May 23, 1915 - Jan. 1, 2012
George Hudson Ball, 96, died at home on New Year's Day. He was born in Australia to Methodist missionary parents, and was 11 years old when they returned to New York state. He spent most of his first 35 years in school (A.B., LL.B - Cornell; B.D., S.T.M., Ph.D.-Yale University), taking time out to serve as a chaplain and ambulance driver in Gen. Patton's 3rd army in World War II (305th Medical Battalion, 1942-1946).
Although he was an ordained Methodist minister and a member of the New York State Bar, George found his real calling as a teacher, initially at Oberlin College and Hamline University, and then his true home at Whitman College, where in 1960 he established the Department of Religion and taught religion, theology and ethics. After retiring from the Religion Department in 1980, he taught in the interdisciplinary General Studies Programs until 2004 and continued throughout his professional life as a counselor until his final retirement in 2006, at the age of 91.
Regarded as something of an inspiration for generations of Whitman students and others lucky enough to witness his optimism and belief in the potential good in all of us, he was the recipient of Whitman's first Distinguished Teaching Award in 1979. He performed more than 200 weddings for his Whitman and Walla Walla friends, including those of his children and a grandson. George loved sports, and was an unofficial booster, especially for the Whitman tennis team. Respected by many as something of an institutional conscience, he worked to oppose McCarthyism and the Vietnam War, and promote civil rights long before those positions became popular.
On Sept. 24,1949, he married his wife of 62 years, Nancy Ann Cronon, who survives him along with four children and their families: Alan (Colleen Dooling) and granddaughters Carolyn and Laura; Sarah (Ken Teslik) and grandsons William and Lee; Larry; and Eric (Candace Dorrough) and step-granddaughters Helen and Eva. A sister, Dorothy Lewis, also survives him. He was preceded in death by his parents, Frederick J. and Anna (Shultes) Ball; a sister, Kathryn Smiley; and a brother, Fred Ball.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, at 2:30 p.m. in Cordiner Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Whitman College or the philanthropy of your choice.
"Someone will depend upon the care with which all our work is done.
Someone will need the kindness with which all our words could be spoken.
Someone will be fulfilled by the love which all our acts might manifest."
- George Ball,
Whitman commencement address, 1978 xx