Mary Lou Warren Ballard, age 81, died peacefully Thursday, July 14, 2022 at Carolina Village Medical Center.
She was born July 10, 1941 in Tampa, FL to William Henderson Warren and Florence Bishop Warren and spent most of her childhood in Avon Park, Florida where her father was a Coca-Cola bottler. Mary Lou was equally proud of being a deeply rooted Floridian and a long-time Henderson County resident. From childhood she loved the mountains of Western North Carolina, first as a summer visitor and camper.
A graduate of St. Petersburg High School, she received her associate degree from Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri and attended the University of Florida. After living in Florida, Texas and New York with her first husband, Mary Lou moved with her three young daughters to a picturesque 1930s house on Evans Road in 1974.
Volunteering at Helping Hand, a center for children with special needs, led to employment with Hendersonville City Schools as a special education teaching assistant.
As a single mother attending college at night and during summers, she earned a bachelor’s degree in special education, graduating magna cum laude from Western Carolina University. Her mother’s help in raising the family made this possible.
For 22 years she taught special needs children at Hendersonville High School, Hendersonville Middle Grade School and Apple Valley Middle School. Active in Special Olympics, she twice coordinated its statewide bowling tournament. She retired from teaching in 1999.
In 1983 she married Frank C. Ballard, Jr., whom she met through a summer job at Kanuga Conferences, an Episcopal center near her home. Years later, the couple became members of Kanuga’s Board of Visitors after his retirement from employment there.
Always enthusiastic about classical music and especially baroque, Mary Lou was a member of the Carolina Chamber Singers for 15 years. She and her husband enjoyed conviviality for over 30 years in a dinner group, the Mud Creek Eating Society. In retirement she volunteered at the Thrift Shop at her parish, St. James Episcopal Church and as a Pardee Hospital volunteer.
Survivors include her daughters Christina Comrie (George) of Clearmont, WY; Sabrina Burkes of Hendersonville and Melina DePasse (Jeff) of Castle Pines, CO; grandchildren Alina Jagodzinski (David) of Denver, Alyssa DePasse and Nicholas DePasse, of Castle Pines, CO; a sister, Frances Lee George of Coventry, RI; and half sister, Demetria Weaver of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.
A private interment will be held at St. Francis Outdoor Chapel, Kanuga Conferences.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Kanuga Conferences, PO Box 250, Hendersonville, NC 28739 or to St. James Episcopal Church, 766 N. Main St., Hendersonville, NC 28792.