John W. Ballard


John and Helen Ballard

John William Ballard was born in the first decade of the Twentieth Century in the farming community of Haubstadt, Indiana, and spent his childhood there. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Evansville College (now University) in Indiana and his law degree at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. After serving in the Armed Services during World War II, he resumed courting Helen McConnell and they were married in 1948.

John joined his uncle’s law firm in Princeton, Indiana, and spent most of his professional life probating wills. When his uncle died, John took over the law firm.

John and Helen, a former fourth grade teacher, loved children, but had none of their own. They both enjoyed spending time with their six nieces and nephews, regaling them with family stories and jokes. When it was time for them to go to college, John provided an incentive to study hard, promising a gold watch to any of the nieces and nephews who made Phi Beta Kappa.

John had simple tastes, enjoying squirrel hunting, especially keeping his guns polished and cleaned to perfection, and rooting for his favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals. He did have one luxury, his Mercedes Benz, kept in the garage during the week while he walked to work, but used on Sundays to attend church. John’s faith in God prompted him to teach the adult Sunday School class at the Methodist church in Princeton, where he and Helen were members throughout their marriage.

At Thanksgiving Helen and John, along with her two brothers and sister and their families, gathered at her mother’s house for dinner throughout the late 1940’s and ’50’s. After all the brothers and sisters had taken their turns hosting the dinner, someone suggested going to the Boone Tavern Hotel instead and from the mid-1960’s through the early 1970’s everyone enjoyed coming to Berea. Happy memories of those family get-togethers and a desire to help children further their education prompted John to establish a scholarship fund at Berea College.

At John’s death his will provided that a Scholarship Fund be established in memory of his wife Helen (who had died a few years earlier in 1972) and in honor of her family. The Ballard-McConnell-Willis Scholarship Fund allows top mathematics students to enhance their Berea learning experience.