Jimmy Ballard, business leader, passes away

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By April Wright, Reporter


Jimmy Ballard of Galax, owner of Ballard Real Estate & Insurance and known as a community leader, died on March 24 at age 83.
Ballard had served two terms on Galax City Council from 1968-1976, as chair of the regional Chamber of Commerce, chair of the Twin County Community Hospital Foundation, on the Galax Planning Commission and athletic council for Galax High School, along with various other committees.
As chair of the Twin County Community Hospital Foundation, Ballard helped to get construction of the hospital started. He became chair of the organization in 1990.
“He was not only involved in the community, but also active in his church — First Baptist of Galax. He served as deacon, an usher for 50 years and as chair of the grounds committee....” said his daughter, Nan Ballard. “He felt like the community had given him so much, he wanted to be a contributor instead of a consumer. He was a true blood of Galax.”
Ballard was born and raised in Galax. While at Galax High School, he received a football scholarship to attend William & Mary College. He turned down the scholarship to serve his country. Ballard served in the U.S. Navy for two years during World War II and returned to Galax.
He then became a mail carrier for the city and a real estate broker in 1963.
Ballard had served as co-owner of Virginia Mutual Insurance in downtown Galax for several years, until he purchased the company in 1976, renaming the business and expanding it into Ballard Real Estate and Insurance. It became one of very few real estate companies in the area at the time.
“The owners of Virginia Mutual had heard of his integrity and work ethic and asked him to go into business with them,” said Nan, of how her father became an insurance agent. “He expanded into real estate because he saw an opportunity to better serve the community.”
A new building was constructed for Ballard Real Estate & Insurance in 1976 at 530 E. Stuart Drive in Galax. Ballard worked there with his son, Gary.
“Even though he was recognized as a leader in the community, his greatest accomplishment was being a husband to Margaret and father and the reason he did the things he did was to provide and set an example for his family,” Nan said.
Nan and Gary said Ballard was a well-rounded, civic-minded individual who was interested in promoting the city.
“The things that would characterize my dad is that he was ambitious, tenacious, hardworking, had incredible work ethic and was determined...,” Nan said. “He had a heart the size of Texas.”
She recalls that the family would take trips across the United States, “but some of my favorite memories were just talking to him about my family.”
Nan said she learned about integrity, work ethic and giving back to the community. “He showed me how to be a proactive citizen around the community,” she said.