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Gerald (Jerry) Lynn Ballard, passed away peacefully on June 8,2022 in Grand Junction, CO at the age of 81. With his larger-than-life personality, Jerry never met a stranger, treasured his life-long friendships, and always found a way to make you smile.
Jerry was born in Oxford, Mi to Harold and Dorothy (Rogers) Ballard on April 29, 1941. He grew up in Belleville, Il, where he developed friendships that stood the test of time. He graduated Belleville Township High School in 1960. On February 6, 1966, he married Cathleen Irma Huber and together they had three daughters, Julie, Connie, and Beckie, who were the light of his life.
Growing up in his mother’s beauty shop, it was no surprise that he became a barber where he learned to appreciate the value of good quality clippers. Although trained as a barber, he spent most of his career as a power plant engineer for Washington University, Royal Packing Company, and General Motors, where he served for 31 years. He retired in 2004 and moved to Glade Park, Colorado where he continued to serve the community as a ditch rider for the Price Ditch in Palisade.
Jerry was a strong, loving, and devoted father. From the minute he came home from work, he was immersed in kids’ activities; from practicing sports in the backyard, attending games, dance recitals, and band concerts; helping with homework, projects, and book reports; to fixing broken toys and flat tires. It was important to teach his girls skills that enabled them to get out of trouble or help others in need. One skill tested every ounce of his patience; how to drive a stick shift. Imagine stopping and starting on a dead-end street with a hill. Tears flowed and attitudes flared, but in the end, each persevered and received their license. He was a proud dad.
Jerry enriched his family and grew his circle of friends through his love of various hobbies and interests. There were cars. Dirt track or drag racing strip, loud and fast, he and his friends couldn’t get enough. He also built and restored old cars. He was particularly fond of his 37 Chevy. Many summers were spent camping, boating, and fishing mostly at Carlyle Lake where he thrived on sailing his Hobie Cat on one pontoon and taking trips to Kentucky Lake visiting his parents where his dad was a fishing guide. He also enjoyed bicycling. Believe it or not, big Jerry could whoop it up on a skinny tire road bike. From 30 to 75 miles, alone or with a group, it didn’t matter. He was having fun. Then there were model planes and trains. He spent countless hours building, flying, and repairing small and large planes, getting the biggest kick out of making pilots with funny faces and gestures. And each Christmas brought a bigger, more complex model train display under the tree featuring his collection of steam engine locomotives. How about motorcycles? He rode dirt bikes in his early years but found pure enjoyment touring the country on multiple trips throughout the years with his friends far and wide. And in Colorado, he filled his cup with everything it offered, from tractors to RVs to ATVs, nothing was left unturned. Finally, above all else and with all his being, he loved his John Wayne movies.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Harold and Dorothy, his daughter, Julie L. Ballard and his beloved dog, Hatch. Jerry is survived by his daughters; Connie (Darin) Mack of Grand Junction, CO, and Beckie (Robert) Ploof of Collinsville, Il, his wife, Cathy (nee Huber) of Belleville, Il, grandsons Peyton and Tyler Mack, brother Tom (Vickie) Ballard of Delta, CO, nephew Broc (Lanni) Ballard of Delta, CO, and nieces Amy (Ryan) Lantz of Aurora, CO, and Cian (Sam) Hogue of Breese, Il and countless friends and acquaintances.
Jerry was a big man with a big personality and an even bigger heart. He was always willing to give a helping hand, no questions asked. His greatest joy was watching his daughters, and eventually his grandsons, play sports.
The family would like to express special thanks to the amazing staff at Beehive Homes and the care teams at Grand Valley Internal Medicine and Community Hospital. As per his wishes, Jerry was cremated, and his ashes will be divided amongst his family and spread on the Monument he so loved.
A celebration of life event will take place in Belleville, Illinois. We invite you to remember Jerry as he lived, big, bold, and full of laughter and joy.
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