Alto resident Jim Ballard suffered a serious bicycle accident near his home Sunday, May 19, breaking his back in multiple places and fracturing many other bones in his upper body. He was medevac'd to University Medical Center Trauma Unit in El Paso, TX. Although a 12-hour surgery on Tuesday successfully stabilized his spine, his heart began failing Thursday evening and he passed away Sunday, May 26, minutes after his son arrived at his side from Afghanistan.
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Since moving to Alto from Steamboat Springs, CO in 2008, Jim, as well as his wife Jean, had been active in the Alto community. They are members of Community United Methodist Church, where Jim was past treasurer and member of the Finance Committee. He also was treasurer and past president of the Ruidoso Noon Lions Club, and volunteered in numerous activities.
During his 10 years in Steamboat Springs, Jim helped organize and chaired the community's first Habitat for Humanity chapter to address the critical need for low cost housing. He was also active in the Ski Town Lions Club.
Prior to moving to Colorado, Jim built a successful financial planning and insurance business in Northern Virginia, his home. He had earned a Masters in Finance from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 after serving two years as a Lt. JG in the Navy. Graduating with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Notre Dame University in 1966, Jim worked on the DuPont team that developed Teflon II.
In Alto, Jim took up golf and was shooting in the mid-eighties and lower nineties this spring. He also skied at every chance, hiked with the Trail Snails, and loved to ride horses.
He was an avid fan as well, following virtually every Notre Dame sports team, and the Washington Redskins, Nationals and Wizards.
Jim was born James Hilary Ballard, Jr. He was the oldest of eight children and helped support the family by working virtually every odd job a minor could perform: mowing lawns, washing windows, picking strawberries, baby-sitting, delivering newspapers, and selling magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Once he reached 15, he worked construction every summer and school holidays through college.
He is survived by his wife Jean Atkins Ballard; son 1LT Curtis Ballard, USA, of Sacketts Harbor, NY; daughter Paula Puckett (from his first marriage) and grandchildren Erica, Hanna, and Zach Puckett, Fairfax, VA; siblings Michael Ballard, Mary Postma, Ruth Warren, Margaret Bebe Palin, Catherine Coggins, Teresa Fares, and Rosemary Law.
The funeral service was held at Central United Methodist Church. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Central United Methodist Church or the Wounded Warrior Project, www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
Published in Ruidoso News from June 7 to June 28, 2013