Joyce Ballard, 91

Published 7:23 am Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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Joyce Ann Baber Ballard, formerly of Winchester, Kentucky and of Chatham and Mantoloking, New Jersey, passed away peacefully at home in Mystic, Connecticut on Maundy Thursday, March 28, 2024 at the age of 91. She was filled with the love of her family.

Joyce was born and raised in Winchester, Kentucky, the daughter of Nelson Howell Baber and Nannie Belle Johnson Baber, in a home she often described as joyful. Gifted with a brilliant mind, boundless energy, and unflinching discipline, Joyce was the consummate scholar and leader. After graduating as valedictorian from Winchester High School, she continued earning the highest academic honors at every university she attended-University of Kentucky, University of Maryland, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Rutgers University. Finally, at Oxford University, England, she studied with scholars from around the world in pursuit of excellence, equality, and diversity in curriculum and instruction.

A formidable teacher of English, literature, and creative writing, she ushered over 2000 students through honors-level classes at Madison High School in New Jersey from the mid-1970’s until her retirement in 1991. During her tenure, she championed the Great Books curriculum and Glyphs, a creative writing magazine. For this work, her students earned major awards from Columbia Schlolastic Press Association and commendation from the Governor of New Jersey. A prodigious reader and lover of the written word in every form, she did not believe in banning books.

Joyce was as generous outside the classroom as she was with her students. When committing her time and talents to any organization, she often rose to lead it, whether PTA, NJEA, DAR, and Holly Rood; Fortnightly, Fine Arts, Music, and Garden Clubs; or in a multitude of roles for the United Methodist Church. She was also a clever bridge partner, spending many afternoons playing at Winchester Country Club.

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Joyce cherished her family above all. Her marriage to John Edward Ballard was a true partnership of equals, infused with deep respect and unconditional love. Lifelong, faithful members of the Methodist church, Joyce and John married in 1951 at First United Methodist Church in Winchester, where Joyce had played piano for Sunday services throughout her youth and sang in the choir in her retirement years. In their 68 years together, they moved across the country and traveled around the world, sharing the duties of building homes and raising a family while each worked to further their own education and profession.

In addition to John, who predeceased Joyce in 2019, Joyce is survived by her two daughters, Joyce Kimberly Ballard, of Edina, Minnesota and Mary Ballard Ward (Michael) of Shelter Island, New York; her grandchildren, Kimberly Anne McNulty of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Amy Elizabeth Sacks (Tyler Parker) of Martinsburg, West Virginia, Elisabeth Ballard Ward (Skylar Albertson) of New Haven, Connecticut, and Edwin Michael Ward III (Lou) of Durham, North Carolina; and her great-grandchildren Aiden and Asher Sacks. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her sister, Helen Baber Ladson of Winchester and her brother Paul Ishmael Baber of Madisonville.

A service in celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, April 6 at 1:00 pm at First United Methodist Church in Winchester, Kentucky with visitation beginning at noon.

The family wishes to thank all of the nurses and caregivers who brought Joyce comfort and companionship in her last years, both at Rose Mary Brooks Place in Winchester and at Academy Point in Mystic, Connecticut. In lieu of flowers, please offer donations to The Fresh Air Fund, 633 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10017; First United Methodist Church, 204 Main Street, Winchester, KY 40391; or a charity of your choice.