BFAA Founders

The Ballew Association of America, Inc. was established in May of 1980 by Tom Ballew, Paul Ballew, Harold C. Ballew, and William Aden (Bill) Ballew.

 

William Aden (Bill) Ballew, Cofounder, Dedication, by Harold C. Ballew

We are here to celebrate the life of William Ballew, a close friend and co-founder of The Ballew Family Association of America.  Bill was born in Greenville, South Carolina and my family settled in Greenville also.  In fact, we were double second cousins; his grandmother Lucyann Sarah Ballew and my grandmother Harriett Louise Ballew were sisters.  Their father was Reason Anderson Ballew.

Our families visited often in my early years and one of my earliest memories of Bill is when I was 11 years old, Bill’s family had been visiting my family for several days when Bill’s father Turner pointed at a big tree and asked, “Do you think I can climb that tree backwards?”  We didn’t think he could, but he was a spry fella and proceeded to climb the tree.  When he was done, Bill asked the same question and he also went up the tree backwards.

Bill’s family moved away to Georgia where he grew up.  During World War II he served in the Army with Merrill’s Marauders in the China-Burma-India Theatre of War for 38 months.  He was his own man and spoke his mind so he earned stripes and then lost stripes.  After his discharge, he married Frances Frazier in 1946 and they had four daughters, Sandra, Barbara, Jeanie and Ginger.

Professionally, Bill manufactured aluminum products i.e. carports and awnings and was President of the National Awning Inc. for 42 years.  When my brother Clinton decided to start an awning business in Greenville, he sought advice from Bill who encouraged him to do it.  Clint founded The Palmetto State Awning Company and today his son Ray continues their nation-wide aluminum products manufacturing business.

For years Bill taught dancing at Kennesaw State College, Clayton State College and Dekalb College.  Besides dancing, Bill was also a Master Bridge player and enjoyed golf with his friends.  He loved people and enjoyed traveling and visiting friends and relatives.  He was very proud of the Ballew name and wanted to learn more about his ancestors.

After a trip to France in 1980, Bill conceived the idea for The Ballew Family Association of America.  He called Tom Ballew, Paul Ballew and me to ask for our help in searching our family tree.  We held many meetings, recruited members by phone calls and letters, registered our name with the Secretary of State’s office and elected one another to the essential offices.  Tom Ballew was President, Bill Ballew was Vice President & Membership Chairman, Harold Ballew was Secretary and Paul Ballew was Treasurer.  Our first reunion was in Clarkesville, Georgia in August 1981 and we published our first Journal in 1982; Sandra Ballew McMillan was the first Journal editor and Barron Ballew was appointed Genealogist.  Many meetings and workshops followed and the Association membership grew.

In 1984, Paul, Frances and Bill toured Ireland and visited Lord Bryan and Lady Rosemary Bellew who live in Barmeath Castle.  They toured again in 1989 with a group of thirty people.  Lord Bryan gave Bill the name of Gertrude Ballou Dunbar (Dixie) who had visited his father years earlier and gathered a lot of genealogical information for a book she was writing.  When Bill contacted Dixie, she was trying to get her work published; therefore, the Ballew Association agreed to help her with it.

After meeting with Dixie, she decided to move from her Charlottesville, Virginia home to Atlanta where she could work on the publication of her life-long work.  Bill and I drove up to her home in one day.  Bill as always charmed her with a dozen roses and he left me there to supervise the packing of the moving van.  I spent the night and then drove Dixie’s car to Atlanta and we got her settled in a nearby apartment.  She enjoyed discussing genealogy with Bill, Tom, Paul and myself.

It took months to collate the handwritten manuscript using early computer technology, but the work was completed and published into three volumes.  Ancient Ancestors and Their Descendants contains thousands of family lineages originating in Great Britain and Europe, chronologically covering more than 1,500 years and is still available through the Ballew Family Association of America.  Every serious genealogist could benefit from these informative books while they last.

Bill was such an out-going, unpredictable man; he and Frances came to our daughter’s senior piano recital at Dekalb College and presented her with a dozen roses.  He had a million ideas for getting jobs done, not all of them proved reliable.  One time he rented some goats since he had heard they would eat anything, and put them on his back lot to clear away the brush.  He came out one day to find one of the goats standing on top of his Cadillac so he got rid of the goat idea.  I’m sure you have a lot of stories you could share, and we want to celebrate his life and be grateful for the memories we have of the time we had with him.