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Merlene L. Ballard

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Merlene L. BALLARD Merlene Lenore Ballard 'Nona' was born February 5, 1918 in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. She passed away on May 8, 2011 on Mother's Day. She was preceded in death by her parents Lucille and Ralph Cox, and her sister Audine Cantwell. Merlene graduated From Northeastern State Teachers College in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She taught elementary school, married a young doctor and together as Methodist Church missionaries they took their three young children to Pakistan. In Pakistan and then India they added two more children to their family. A busy mother, she raised the five children in the Burien area. Merlene's next career started in 1965 when returning from a European vacation; she became a travel agent for the Holiday House Travel, specializing in European travel. She enjoyed seeing the world, taking notes wherever she went so she could add special experiences to personalize her clients' trips. Merlene enjoyed a rich life that touched so many. When grand-children came along she became 'Nona' to all and was happiest when surrounded by generations of family during gatherings at Judy and Bruce Clibborn's Mercer Island home. Another great joy in her life was her cat Koshka. Over the years, she was a member at Fauntleroy, Normandy Park, and Plymouth Congregational Churches, serving variously as Sunday School Superintendent, secretary of the Plymouth Library Committee and supporter of the Housing Fund. Merlene loved the performing arts. She was active with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Volunteer Corps for many years, enjoyed the Act Theatre, Seattle Rep, Symphony and Pops. She was influential in her children's and grandchildren's appreciation of the performing arts. She is survived by her five children, daughter Judy Clibborn and her husband Bruce, son Bruce and his wife Patrice Kettner, son Paul 'Randy' and his wife Nina Morris, son Jack and his wife Barbara, daughter Jan and her partner Dan Graham, and thirteen grandchildren Matt Rohde, Heather (James), Lisa (Tim), Andrea (David), Erica, Chad (Lindsey), Collin, Dustin, Marc (Emily), Matt Gall, Mikaela, Nicole, Sophia and Anika. She is survived by seven great grandchildren Isaiah, Lilly, Whitney, Blake, Owen, Milo and Fritz. Also surviving are her beloved nephew Larry Cantwell-Cox and niece Patty Fulbright. Merlene was also 'Mom' to many exchange students over the years as she raised her family. Eric Dorff of Germany and Ingemar Blomgren of Sweden are two who have remained family friends for over 40 years. Many thanks to Alice Nelson who was a good friend looking out for Nona and Koshka at Exeter House. The family also wishes to thank the staff of Exeter House and Evergreen Hospice. A celebration of Nona's life will be held at 2pm on Saturday May 21, 2011 at Exeter House, 720 Seneca Street, Seattle. At her request her son Jack will sing Amazing Grace and we will drink root beer floats. Nona we love you, we will miss you and we will carry your stories and spirit for generations to come. Memorials may be made to: PRCN Foundation, Exeter House Employee Education Grant Program, Attention: Ami Turcotte, Exeter House, 720 Seneca Street, Seattle, WA 98101.
Published in The Seattle Times from May 14 to May 20, 2011
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