Thank you, Bern, for your service to our country.
I only met Bern one time, but he certainly sticks out in my memory. My cousin, Chester Spaw, who also worked at the Austin post office for years, caught a ride with Bern to his bay place, and I was invited over to meet him, since I live in Aransas Pass. Bern, Chester and another friend (whose name I forget) came to my home for dinner one of the days they were in the vicinity, and we had a great visit. Bern, like Chester, was just amazing and far outlived our expectations, but not our wishes. My sincere condolences to his family.
My Deepest Sympathy to the family. Bern's coffee friends will miss him.
Margarine G. Beaman, Austin, TX
Bern was a bookkeeper for my grandparent's (Carl and Willie Mae Templeton's) Gulf gas station. He was a loyal friend of our family. More recently, Bern was kind enough to share his World War II experiences with my nephew for his school project. We are sad to hear of his passing. He will always be remembered fondly by us.
My dad, Billy Ballard is the youngest and now, only surviving son of Ralph and Edith Ballard (Pop Ballard and Grandma). Bern was one of several of their sons and daughters, including Melburn, C.T., Erin and Leona (Pickie). Daddy likes to tell the story of how, when Pop Ballard came home to Bern and Pickie's childhood bickering, he would throw one out the front door and the other out the back.
Each of the Ballard sons served proudly in WWII and C.T. lost his life when the plane he volunteered to navigate was shot down over Europe. Bern's illustrious military career was a focal point in his life and is well chronicled in his obituary and on the Purple Heart website at:
Over the course of time, Bern wrote a novel, “On to the Sea” loosely based on his wartime exploits. With the help of his son Scott, he later self-published it.
Pop Ballard and Grandma's family home was on a half block tract along South First Street in South Austin. Pop Ballard's mattress factory was at the bottom of the hill and each of Bern and his siblings had built houses lining Wintergreen lane going up the hill. Early in their respective marriages, they had lived there, but by the time I came along, the houses other than Pop Ballard's were rent houses. My brothers and I learned plumbing, roofing and repairs in the upkeep of those houses and I eventually lived in one of them myself.
As a kid, every Sunday after church, Momma (Jean) and Daddy would take my 2 brothers Stan and Brad and I over to Pop Ballard and Grandma's for fried chicken dinner. Pop Ballard had a chicken coop in the back yard and aside from the chicken dinners, we always went home with fresh eggs. After lunch, the men and boys would settle in front of the black and white TV to watch baseball or Cowboys football under the water cooled window fan and the ladies would visit. Pop Ballard would cut a cigar in half, chew one half and save the other to smoke. His coffee can spittoon sat beside his recliner.
Over the course of the afternoon, we might be joined by Uncle Bern and Aunt Mary with Scott and Harrilyn, Uncle Ollie and Aunt Pickie with Wanda & Glenda, Aunt Erin and Uncle Hugh Lewallen and their families. On Christmas, we all crowded together for a feast and gift opening. I have many happy memories of the family gatherings and our childhood play in the cedar breaks across Wintergreen lane from Pop Ballard's house.
From my perspective as a scrawny kid, Uncle Bern was a big strapping man with a booming voice. He always had a great story to tell about his own exploits and about growing up in and around Austin – I might be privy to it if I hung around the outskirts of the men's conversation.
When I married and had kids of my own, we began hosting birthday parties and special occasions at our own home. Remembering with fondness the family gatherings of my own childhood, I always invited Uncle Bern to yet another generation of Ballard get-togethers. He always graciously attended.
Uncle Bern made an impact in a lot of lives over the extended course of his own. It goes without saying - we'll miss him.