A lifelong passion for bettering lives
Just before his 70th birthday, Bill Ball happened to attend a chamber concert performed by the Sarasota Orchestra Symphony. He was so moved by the performance and was particularly struck by the beautiful play of the principal flautist.
Now 86, Bill has decided to learn the piano… on his own. He and his wife of 63 years, Eva, have a piano in their apartment that Bill practices on each day. He is especially motivated to build his skills because he belongs to the Willows Piano Club. “We meet monthly and we always try to play a piece for the rest of the club members.” Bill is also involved in making videos and photos of many of the Willows activities as well as being a technical helper on computer problems for many of the residents.
Eva, 87, is a talented person in her own right; although she is quick to point out that her talent lies elsewhere than music. “There was a time when I wanted to be a folk singer. I tried to play the guitar and sing. My little poodle actually covered her ears,” She laughed. “That was when I decided to find a different way of expressing myself.”
Express herself she did… all during the annual talent shows at the Willows; as Dolly Parton, Ernestine from the old “Laugh In” TV show, Diana Ross, Marlene Dietrich and even Sonny Bono, with Bill at her side as Cher. “I never really performed in front of other people until we moved to the Willows. Because we are among our friends now, I really enjoy it!”
Eva added, “It is such a nice way of doing something you enjoy with people you care about. We really are like a family at the Willows.”
“There is always more to learn,” said Bill. “The Willows gives you the opportunity and encourages you to try new things. For me, that’s the great thing about music. There is always room to improve. Many of my friends pick up instruments that they haven’t touched since high school and it is a way to reconnect with the past to better yourself now and for the future.”
Eva and Bill are also deeply committed to bettering the lives of others. “We believe in the goals of St. Andrew’s,” Bill said. “In many ways, society is failing people who need support. This is why we give to the St. Andrew’s Charitable Foundation. More and more people in our age group need financial assistance in order to live where they are and get the care they need.”
This spirit of philanthropy can be traced back to important childhood influences for both Bill and Eva. As an eight year-old girl, Eva and her family left their home in Frankfurt, Germany in 1938 as Adolph Hitler was coming to power. “My father could see what was coming and was wise enough to get us out,” she said. “Our immediate family made it out, but so many of our other family members, we just never heard from them again.”
Bill’s grandparents helped raise him during the years his father was enlisted during World War II. It was their influence on his young life that helped inspire Bill to pursue a degree in engineering at Washington University, a career at Monsanto and eventually a return to Washington University as a faculty member in what was to become a very successful Department of Computer Science.
The Balls are proud parents of a daughter and son and never tire of bragging about their Mizzou Sophomore grandson.
“Although we no longer travel like we once did, we will continue to remain active as we age. We have more to do,” said Eva.
St. Andrew’s is grateful for the Balls and their love of humanity. Bill was recognized by St. Andrew’s in 2012 as one of its “Ageless Remarkable St. Louisans.” To read more about St. Andrew’s and the Ageless, Remarkable St. Louisans, or to make a donation, please visit us online at: www.standrews1.com.