Longtime Baylor Benefactor Virginia Beall Ball Dies

Dec. 2, 2003
News Photo 1674Virginia Beall Ball received an honorary doctor of humane letters from Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. during commencement ceremonies in May 2003.

Longtime Baylor University supporter and Indiana philanthropist Virginia Beall Ball passed away Monday, Dec. 1, in a Miami hospital. Funeral services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at First Presbyterian Church in Muncie, Ind.

"Virginia Ball possessed a brilliant mind and generosity of spirit," said Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. "She embodied that all demanding Scripture: 'To whom much is given, of him [or her] shall much be required.' Her legacy has enriched and empowered our lives. And what she has so richly given, hundreds of thousands of both young and old will keep."

Born in Jacksonville, Texas, in 1919, Ball graduated from Baylor in 1940 with a degree in English, then worked for two years on the alumni affairs and public relations staff at Baylor. She married Edmund F. Ball, a Yale graduate, in 1952.

A civic leader, world traveler, pilot and patron of arts and sciences, she and her husband founded the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. Additionally, she served on the board of directors of the Ball Brothers Foundation and was Trustee Emeritus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts. For three years, she chaired the board of trustees of the National Wildlife Endowment and served on the Indiana Commission on the Humanities and the International Woman's Forum. She also was a member of the board of the Ball State University Foundation and founded the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry at Ball State.

Ball also served her alma mater in many capacities. A tireless advocate for the arts, she endowed at Baylor the Beall-Russell Lecture Series in 1982 to honor her mother, DeLouise McClelland Beall, and Lily Russell, former dean of women at Baylor. She also established the Beall Poetry Festival in 1994 to honor her parents and to encourage the writing and appreciation of poetry.

She also served on the board of advisers of the College of Arts and Sciences, was a life member of the Baylor Alumni Association, a patron of Armstrong Browning Library and a charter member of the Old Main Society. In 1989, she was named a Baylor Distinguished Alumna, and in 2003, she was presented an honorary doctor of humane letters from Baylor.

For her civic work, Ball received the Medal of Distinction from Ball State University, the Indiana Achievement Award and the prestigious Sagamore of Wabash Award by the Governor of Indiana. She also held three honorary doctorates from other universities.

She is survived by her children: Frank E. Ball of Muncie, Ind., Marilyn Ball Heaton of Barrington, Ill., Fred C. Ball of Harbor Springs, Mich., Robert B. Ball of Traverse City, Mich., and Nancy Ball Keilty of Cedar, Mich.

The First Presbyterian Church of Muncie, Ind., is located at 1400 W. Riverside Ave. Meeks Mortuary, 415 E. Washington St., is in charge of arrangements.

Memorial notifications can be sent to:

Kris Gross

Ball Associates

P.O. Box 1408

Muncie, IN


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