Edmund Ferdinand Ball 1905-2000
The concept of “giving back” to society in general and the community in particular was instilled in Edmund (“Ed”) Ferdinand Ball from birth. As the eldest son of Bertha Crosley Ball and Edmund Burke Ball, he witnessed his parents’ generosity as they helped establish Ball Memorial Hospital and Ball Brothers Foundation, as well as nurture the small local teachers college that would become the nationally respected Ball State University. A WWII veteran, he later assumed leadership roles in all three organizations even as he led Ball Corporation, the company his father co-founded.
Ed Ball was a charter member of the National Council for the Humanities, an organizing member of the Public Broadcasting System, and spearheaded the financial drive that brought a public television station to Muncie. He was instrumental in generating funds for visionary projects that would benefit the community for generations to come. Among these is Minnetrista, the imposing cultural center—dedicated to nature, regional history, and the arts—located adjacent to the homes of the original Ball brothers. He also supported the launch of The Community Foundation of Muncie & Delaware County by making a $1 million challenge grant in its first year. His family’s subsequent gifts helped position the public philanthropy as one of the largest community foundations in Indiana.
Virginia Beall Ball 1919-2003
Civic leader, world traveler, cattle rancher, skilled pilot, and patron of the arts, Virginia B. Ball shared her husband’s enthusiasm for philanthropy, with a special passion for efforts on behalf of education and the environment. She was a founding board member for the Indiana Council for the Humanities, trustee emeritus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and was the first woman to serve on the National Wildlife Federation board. In 2000, she established the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry at Ball State University and saw it evolve into an international model for innovative, immersive learning.
Mrs. Ball advocated for lifelong learning and supported projects in two university communities—her alma mater, Baylor University, in her native state of Texas, and Ball State University, in her adoptive state of Indiana. The Balls’ contributions to environmental issues were sizable and have extended beyond their lifetimes. Together they saved an expansive wetlands area when they created the Edmund and Virginia Ball Wetlands Nature Preserve on Lake James in northeastern Indiana.
In his eulogy to Mrs. Ball, the president of Baylor University noted, “She embodied that all-demanding scripture: ‘To whom much is given, shall much be required.’”