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Robert W.D Ball


1930 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Robert W.D Ball Obituary


Robert William Dabney Ball, dearly loved husband of Joanne Dubbs Ball, departed this life on August 21, 2014, at University of Connecticut Health Center, after a courageous struggle with Lewy Body disease. Born on September 1, 1930 in Hartford, he was the son of William Dabney Ball and Emily (Hathaway) Ball. Currently a resident of Simsbury, Bob previously lived at Farmington Woods in Avon. Bob attended West Hartford schools and Mt. Herman Preparatory School. While there, at the age of fifteen, he joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Germany at the end of World War II, thus becoming part of a large group of underage youths throughout the U.S. who, in the fervor of patriotism, did the same. He was part of the military police, until his deception was uncovered and he returned home to complete his education at Mt. Herman. He later attended, and was a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan Univ., during which time he studied at the Univ. of Sorbonne in Paris and traveled throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. On the first day of the Israeli-Palestinian War in 1948 he found himself in Israel where, for a time, he helped to train the newly-formed Israeli troops. Immediately after graduation, as a member of the National Guard, Bob was called into service once again for the Korean conflict. Following that, he re-enlisted and in 1954 became part of Operation Castle during the H-bomb tests at Bikini and Eniwetok Atolls, where he and the men under his command were exposed to considerable amounts of radiation fallout. Upon his return home, he married the late Joyce Schilke. During the ensuing years he was employed by Travelers Insurance Company and also involved in several manufacturing endeavors, including recruiting men throughout the United Kingdom for positions with Connecticut companies. Although no longer associated with them, in his later years Bob was a primary founder and president of JLD Enterprises (now PTR). However, years earlier he found his true calling when he opened Paperback Booksmith in what was then the Farmington Valley Mall in Simsbury. Upon the unfortunate close of that business, Bob went on to write books (as he often said, "When I could no longer sell books, I decided to write them!") He is the author of ten books on such diversified subjects as militaria and firearms, clocks, cowboys, and nautical antiques. Since he had spent the better part of his lifetime studying and collecting them, the achievement of which he was most proud was "Mauser Military Rifles of the World," now in its fifth printing. Several years ago he appeared in a segment on Mauser rifles on the Tales of the Gun series, which aired on The History Channel. Although he would deny it, Bob was, in truth, a military historian and a storehouse of geographical and historical information covering a range of topics from the well-known to the arcane, with a particular interest in the "little wars" like that of the Chaco. Bob's lineage is a distinguished one. He was the seventh great grandson of Colonel William Ball, who was also the great grandfather of President George Washington through Washington's mother Mary Ball. Through Colonel Ball's wife, Hannah Atherton, Bob is also directly descended from many of the early monarchies of Europe, as well as historical figures such as Charlemagne and William the Conqueror. His great-grandfather was Major/Reverend Dabney Ball, who fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War under J.E.B. Stuart, and is referred to in numerous books on that conflict as "the fighting parson." His fourth maternal great grandfather, through his mother Emily Hathaway, was Col. George Claghorn, the builder of the U.S.S. Constitution. Through this line he is also a direct descendant of Michael Pierce, the famed Massachusetts Indian fighter. That same Pierce family at one time ran the famed Mayflower line. William Pierce, Michael Pierce's brother, was a Ships Master, and guided the Mayflower on numerous voyages after the first Mayflower landing, transporting both John Winslow and Roger Williams to the New World. Bob's eighth great grandmother, who married a Pierce, was Hannah Holbrook, the daughter of John Holbrook, also a passenger on one of the Mayflower's later voyages. Both President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush are also direct descendants of Michael Pierce. (Surprisingly, though former First Lady Barbara Bush's maiden name was Pierce, she is not descended through this particular line of the Pierce family.) In addition to his wife of thirty-eight years, Joanne, Bob is survived by his children Terry Henninger of Riverview, FL and Douglas Ball and his wife Denise of Pleasant Valley, his step-daughter Cynthia Clarke of San Ramon, CA and his stepson Brett Clarke of Cincinnati, OH, his wife Adele, and their two sons Elliot and Aidan Clarke, precious grandsons treasured by Bob as his own. In addition to his parents, Bob was predeceased by his sister Carolyn Roedel. He spoke often about his fond memories of their childhood summers spent at Martha's Vineyard where, since the late 1800s, his mother's family, and later his parents, owned gingerbread houses in the historic campgrounds at Oak Bluffs. A patriotic American and proud of our military men and women both past and present, Bob's as yet unfulfilled wish was to see the country he loved return to the glory and prestige it so recently enjoyed and once again become "that shining city on the hill." Admired for his quick wit and intellect, Bob lived an adventurous and full life. He died with acceptance and dignity and was a gentleman to the end. The family gives special thanks and appreciation to the compassionate staff at McLean in Simsbury and the nurses, doctors and Palliative Care team at John Dempsey Hospital, all of whom helped Bob and Joanne through his final earthly journey. His family will receive friends Thursday, August 28, 2014 from 12-1 PM followed by a funeral service at 1 PM, at the Carmon Funeral Home & Family Center, 301 Country Club Road, Avon. Burial with full military honors will follow in Simsbury Cemetery. If you so choose, the family would be most appreciative if your contributions were made in Bob's memory to the Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS, 66675 or to the Avon Free Public Library, 281 Country Club Road, Avon, Ct 06001. For directions or condolences please visit www.carmonfuneralhome.com


Published in The Hartford Courant on Aug. 24, 2014
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