Kenneth R. Ballard, 79, of Orange, passed away Nov. 25, peacefully at his home surrounded by his family after a brief illness which he fought with the same courage, strength, and unabashed grit that was so characteristic of how he lived his life.

An informal memorial gathering for fellowship of friends and sharing of stories will be hosted by the family from 4:00-6:00 pm, Friday, Nov. 27, at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange. Always a generous man and a strong proponent of education, he willed that his remains be donated to the teaching hospital at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston for the advancement of medical study by UTHealth students.

Born in Gladewater, Aug. 1, 1936, Kenneth was the son of Lester Ballard and Aleita (Etzel) Ballard. He graduated from Stark High School in 1954. After working for A. Schulman Corporation for 22 years, he left the company’s Orange plant as its maintenance foreman in 1978 to start his own business. As owner of IH-10 Auto Salvage, Inc. for 37 years, he built and ran a successful business (with no bailouts, he always enjoyed noting) that was one of the numerous lifetime accomplishments that made him so proud. His trusted word and a handshake often operated as his bond in business deals, and countless friendships developed out of business relationships.

A beloved husband, dad, grandfather, brother, uncle, and cousin, he was a great family man who always enjoyed spending time with friends and family; he did everything he could for those around him. His unforgettable sense of humor and sharp wit made him a joy to be around regardless of the time or place. He and his loving wife of 38 years, Mary, enjoyed many favorite past-times together, including travelling for sport and leisure, going dancing at any number of venues around Southeast Texas, and driving across the Sabine River to gamble in Lake Charles. He was an avid outdoorsman from the time he was an adolescent and was a longtime member and supporter of Ducks Unlimited, once being named Sportsman of the Year by the organization’s Sabine Chapter. His passion for hunting and fishing played a central role in his relationships with all of his grandsons, who loved and admired him as their “BigPaw;” he enjoyed many such trips with them, and he was most proud of being with each of his grandsons both when they caught their first fish and when they shot their first deer. Although he was unable to go to college himself, he believed strongly in the importance of young adults furthering their education beyond high school and was always there to support his children and grandsons however he could in their educational endeavors. His belief in the value of higher education led him and Mary to provide college scholarships for the past several years to graduating seniors at Orangefield High School. He was a great man who was highly respected by colleagues, friends, and family alike. His humor, love, and generosity will be remembered by all who knew him.

He is preceded in death by his parents; brother, L.G. Ballard and his sisters, Kay Jones and Reba Gearhart.

Those left to cherish his memory include his loving wife, Mary Belle (MacMillon) Ballard; two daughters, Melissa R. Pousson and husband Ray and Joy L. Richard, both of Orange; two step-children: Leslie Simon and husband Mike Miller, of Houston and Sammy Simon and his brother, Doyle Ballard and wife Norma, all of Orange. He also leaves behind what he considered to be a principal part of his legacy, his four grandsons: Benjamin R. Pousson of Orange, Taylor R. Pousson of Austin, Matthew L. Richard and wife Michelle, of Gatesville and Cody M. Richard of Houston; two step-grandsons, Eric Simon of Orange and Danny Simon of Houston and his two beloved great-grandchildren, Emily and Luke Richard of Gatesville. He is also survived by his longtime boss, Tom E. Royston, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and countless friends, all of whom mourn his passing while relishing in the memories and legacy he leaves behind.

The family would like to extend its sincerest heartfelt gratitude to caregivers Joan Williams, Angie Townsend, Debbie Courtney and his favorite cousin, Rosalie Scott, all of whom provided such exceptional and personal care during his illness while going along with his jokes and other usual shenanigans.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that anyone wishing to honor his memory make a donation to Answered Prayer, 602 Azalea Avenue, Orange, Texas 77630.