Howard Lee Ball, the former editor of Suburban Trends as well as a columnist and member of the Pompton Lakes and West Milford fire departments, died Saturday, June 2, at the New Jersey Firemen's Home in Boonton. Mr. Ball was also chaplain for the Passaic County Fire Academy, as well as for the Riverdale, Bloomingdale, West Milford, and other fire departments.
Born July 3, 1929 in Haskell, he lived most of his life in Pompton Lakes.
Mr. Ball, an award-winning community newspaperman, was the long-time executive editor and a much-beloved columnist for the Suburban Trends newspaper. Generations of readers in northern Passaic and Morris counties relied upon the work of Mr. Ball and his staff as their primary source for news and information about the daily events, large and small, in their hometowns. In his popular "Bits & Pieces" column, he lovingly shared his personal stories about families, friends and neighbors, often noting the birthdays of the waitresses at his favorite eateries, the retirements of school lunch ladies, the kid down the block who did a good deed, etc.
Mr. Ball's influence and contributions to the communities served by Suburban Trends were extensive and the newspaper is actively working on obituary that reflects these contributions.
"Staff members, local firefighters, and the community in general are saddened by the news," Suburban Trends Editor Matt Fagan said Sunday. "I know from experience how well loved and respected Howard was. Nary a month would go by without someone calling the newspaper who would, before hanging up, send his or her regards to Howard."
A dedicated civic and religious leader North Jersey throughout his life, Mr. Ball, was a past president and engine captain of the Pompton Lakes Fire Department, as well as a volunteer firefighter with the Greenwood Forest Fire Company in West Milford. In his retirement, he served as chaplain for the Pompton Lakes Fire Department, Riverdale Fire Department, Bloomingdale Fire Department, West Milford Company 4 "Macopin Blacksheep," Riverdale Police Department, Passaic County Fire Academy and Passaic County Mutual Aid Society.
Mr. Ball also served as executive director of the Upper Passaic County Community Action program where pioneered the Meals-on-Wheels and the Congregate Feeding programs, as well as an Assembly of God minister who led congregations in both Butler and Edgewater, and he was past president of the Butler Rotary Club and Tri-Boro Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and could trace his ancestry to minutemen who fought in the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
A Lifetime Award recipient from the Pompton Lakes Republican Club, confidant and advisor to a diverse range of political leaders including U.S. Representatives Robert A. Roe, a Democrat and Dean Gallo, a Republican. A member of numerous other political and volunteer organizations, Mr. Ball also was 25-year member of the local U.S. Congressional selection committee for the national service academies, and former master sergeant with the Michigan National Guard.
Mr. Ball was a 1947 graduate of Pompton Lakes High School, where he was president of the Cardinals Marching Band and Outstanding Senior Boy. A 1951 graduate of Western Michigan University, he was a member of the Beta Beta Beta fraternity and mentor for the freshman class. While at Western Michigan, he built a built a bootleg radio station in his dorm room, which launched his life-long passion for radio, including turns as "Jeff Lane on the Street of Dreams" at WKMI in Kalamazoo, MI; "Coffee Time With Uncle Howie," broadcast from Lakeview Lanes in West Milford; and various news and entertainment spots on radio stations including WTTM, WCTC, WKER, WNNJ and WGHT.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Richards Funeral Home, 4 Newark Pompton Turnpike, Riverdale. Friends may visit Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at Richards Funeral Home. Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Mr. Ball was the son of Howard L. Ball, Sr. a textile worker and union local vice president in Pompton Lakes, and Harriet V (Stephens) Ball, both predeceased.
He is survived by his five children, Guy D. Ball, Mark Griffith, Diane (Grant) Mone, Patricia Mitchell (Ball) Stephanie Bassler, (Ball), 11 Grandchildren Nicholas, Alexander, Daniel, Debbie, Michael, Erich, Stephen, Kelly, Kim, Thomas and Sara. He had 10 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
- Staff report
Published in Suburban Trends from June 3 to June 4, 2012