Cover photo for Joe Ball's Obituary
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1933 Joe 2021

Joe Ball

November 8, 1933 — October 18, 2021

Leon D. “Joe” Ball, 87 of Pump House Road, Somerset passed away on Monday, October 18th at home in the care of his wife of 65 years, Doris B. Ball. Joe was born in Henry County, KY in 1933 to L.C. and Mary Katherine Jenkins Ball, lived his early years in Harlan where he met and married his sweetheart of 65 years, Doris Blair Ball. They raised two sons, Kenton and Todd, and one daughter, Irris.
He received his B.S. in agriculture from the University of Kentucky in 1955 and his Masters in adult education from North Carolina State in 1965. He spent 26 years working to improve the lives of rural Kentuckians working first as a 4-H agent and later as a community development specialist with UK College of Agriculture Extension Service before retiring in 1983. Joe’s work reflected his values, believing the community is enriched when integrity guides actions, actions benefit everyone regardless of wealth, and who gets credit is not important. Joe had many unheralded successes establishing rural water districts, funding solid waste collection and rural fire departments, and working with Milton Beattie and Mayor Whitaker to build the 80 mile natural gas pipeline that, 40 years later, brings continuing economic security to the people of Somerset.
Joe spent the next 38 years of “retirement” managing the farm on Pump House Road and embracing the role of tree farmer on his and Doris’ properties Pulaski, Wayne, and McCreary Counties and Pall Mall, TN. Joe loved the land and believed in being a good steward of what God entrusted to him, caring little for who received the benefits of the trees planted, timber stands improved or access trails built for better management and enjoyment of the land. His work was innovative in how the roads and trails he built made forest management and selective logging efficient and sustainable. In 1999 Joe was named Kentucky Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year for his leadership and innovation.
His love of the land was on full display if you ever joined him and Doris on their annual spring wildflower walk, spring and fall camping trips, or any other occasion that drew you into his happy place where the beauty of God’s nature and Joe’s handiwork came together in Pall Mall. He loved sharing it and making the memories of fireside meals, hiking, and great conversations with his friends, children, grandchildren and grandchildren’s friends.
Joe’s commitment to his community began at his church. He was a deacon at First Baptist Church for over 40 years, led the youth group with Doris in the 1960’s, and taught a men’s Sunday school class for over 20 years. Later he became an Elder at the First Presbyterian Church where he served and worshiped until his last days. As a Rotarian for over 60 years and club president in 1983, he believed the fabric of any community needed strengthening through service and embraced the Rotary motto: “Service above self”.
Joe was given the gift of life and was ever grateful to God for the blessings that came to him and his family. In difficulty, he faced his illnesses directly and without complaint. When the cancer recurred, he decided to spend his time on the land he loved, in the embrace of family and friends, and being joyful about having had a full life that exceeded all his expectations.
Joe is survived by his wife, Doris; two sons Kenton (Fred Hoskins) and Todd (Sherri Allen) both of Lexington and one daughter, Irris Ball Boaz (Brett) of Wilmette, IL; three granddaughters, Mary Kathryn Ball of Louisville, Leighann Allen Ball of Lexington and Campbell Blair Boaz of Wilmette; nieces and nephews Larry and Jeff Creech, Priscilla Ball Morris and Byron Ball, Denise and Robin Blair, Sam Blair and Tammy Blair Moore; special helpmate and all-around great guy Bobby Goodin who extended Joe and Doris’ years on the farm and in the woods along with the extraordinary Australian Shepard, Russell.

The family will receive friends on Friday, October 29th from 5:00 to 7:00 PM EDT at Pulaski Funeral Home, 165 KY-2227, Somerset, KY.
A memorial service will be on Saturday, October 30th at 11:00 AM EDT at First Presbyterian Church, 200 North Vine Street, Somerset, KY.
Lunch reception celebrating Joe’s life on Saturday, October 30th at 12:00 PM EDT following Saturday’s service at the First Presbyterian Church fellowship hall.
Please RSVP to [email protected] if you can join the family for Saturday’s lunch and a time of sharing the joys of Joe’s life.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to:

First Presbyterian Church
200 North Vine Street
Somerset, Kentucky, 42501 or

Kentucky Educational Television
560 Cooper Drive
Lexington, KY 40502
or online

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joe Ball, please visit our flower store.


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