Ballenger

J.D. Ballenger passed away peacefully at 6:58 a.m. on October 3, 2020.    

Friends are welcomed to sign the register and view the body at Rader Funeral Home in Kilgore, Texas.

Considering COVID-19 safety concerns, private graveside services will be held with immediate family only.

James Dan Ballenger was born in Henderson, Texas on July 19, 1926, to Robert Turner Ballenger and Ivy D Whittington Ballenger. He was the youngest of six children. Dan’s father died from lung disease at the age of 44 years in the midst of the Great Depression when Dan was 8 years old.  After her husband’s death, Ivy D entered the field of real estate and was one of the first licensed female realtors in the state of Texas.  She managed the family farm, practiced real estate and put her four children through college. She died at the age of 91 years. 

After graduating from Henderson High School in 1943, Dan attended Kilgore Jr. College for one year.  Like many young men of that generation, he served his country in in the U.S. Army during World War II serving for two years. He traveled to Europe without ever having been out of Texas.  During his first days in Europe, he was diagnosed with Scarlett fever and quarantined for 21 days:  just as he thought—he was not sick.  It was the man next to him.

It was then, he said, “I learned to laugh…some things you have no control over.” 

After the war, Dan completed his A.A. degree from Kilgore College and attended the University of Texas.   While he was home for the summer in 1948, he met Joyce Thomasson in front of the Hayden Brown drugstore in downtown Henderson, Texas.  Joyce had recently graduated from Baylor University and was teaching at Henderson High School. They fell in love. Joyce encouraged Dan to complete his education prior to their marriage.

Dan graduated from the University of Texas in 1949 with a B.B.A. in accounting. He came to Kilgore to visit with local CPA Byron Bronstad about employment.  Although Byron didn’t have a position in his accounting firm, he was able to place Dan as chief of accounting of a newly incorporated plumbing fixture manufacturer in Kilgore. In fact, it was so new, it wasn’t even in production.  

On June 6, 1949 Dan began his life-long career at Kilgore Ceramics Corporation. In 1952, Dan was promoted to Vice-President.  Dan was a member of The American Ceramic Society for many years and served as a board member on the Kilgore Industrial Foundation.  Upon the retirement of Dayton Walkup and sale of Ceramics in 1982 to Armitage Shanks of England, Dan became President and Director of Kilgore Plumbing Products.  In that capacity he also served in many roles as an Officer and Director of several subsidiary companies. Dan remained in that position when Armitage Shanks later sold the company to Mansfield Plumbing of Ohio. Dan retired in February of 1989 and was retained as a consultant for the company for a transition period.  Dan was a dedicated employee and enjoyed working with his fellow business associates. He had a wonderful relationship with Dayton Walkup, Edwin Slayter and Pete Keiser along with the other officers and directors and employees of Kilgore Ceramics Corporation/Kilgore Plumbing Products.   Dan remarked at a banquet in his honor saying “I thoroughly enjoyed working with the best bunch of folks anyone could ever have the opportunity to work with”.  Those words were heartfelt.

In 1950 Dan married Joyce Thomasson, a native of Crockett, in Crockett, Texas.  She was the love of his life. Their daughters, Brynda Joyce and Nancy Diane, brought much joy to their lives. On Christmas Day 2006, after having gone to bed, Joyce had what would later be determined to be a stroke. She was life-flighted to Mother Frances in Tyler where she later died. Earlier that day, the entire immediate family had been at Joyce and Dan’s for Christmas dinner and celebration. Christmas was Joyce’s favorite time of the year.  Dan’s church, many friends, loving family, Tuesday Night Ceramics Supper group and Thursday Night Roundtable Dinner group helped him through this very difficult time.  

Dan was an active member and elder of First Christian Church in Kilgore where he served as Sunday School Superintendent for many years. He was never in the choir, but he loved to sing the hymns of his faith. Additionally, he served as treasurer for the Peatown Christian Church Cemetery Association.

Dan enjoyed running a few cattle at the Ballenger Family Farm in Henderson, TX for over 50 years. He was a member of Texas Southwestern Cattle Raiser’s Association since 1960, and member and former President of the Oil Belt Farm & Ranch Club.  He was supportive of the Kilgore Future Farmers of America.   

Community service included serving as a Board Member of the Kilgore Economic Development Corporation and a City Commissioner for the city of Kilgore from 1963-1967. He also served as Director of and Vice -President of the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce and was appointed to the Regional Advisory Council for the Small Business Association.

Dan served as a Director of the Kilgore First National Bank from 1969-1981 and Director of City National Bank from 1982-1985.

Dan’s membership in the Kilgore Rotary Club included perfect attendance for over 40 years.  This was achieved by visiting other area clubs if he missed his local club meeting.  He served as a former Vice-President and was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary. He was an active and dedicated member Rotary’s flag program putting out flags until his auto accident in 2012 when he was 85 years old. 

Although his wife Joyce graduated from Baylor University, his daughter Brynda graduated from Texas Christian University and his daughter Nancy graduated from Texas A&M University, Dan was proud to be a graduate of The University of Texas. When Nancy chose to attend A&M, Dan deposited money into a special account for her so that he would not be writing any checks to that school.  When Nancy, Dan and Joyce attended Parent’s Orientation at A&M’s Rudder Tower Dan had a “conversation” with an ATM Yell Leader. When the Aggie War Hymn was “taught,” Dan refused to participate and continued to sit in his chair in the auditorium…the Yell Leader approached Dan and kindly asked him to stand.  Dan kindly sat and told him he was just fine. He bled orange. He was a life-long donor to The University of Texas and Life Member of Texas Exes.

Dan was a gentle man and a gentleman.  He was also very tenacious.  He learned to walk again twice in his eighties:  once, after he suffered a broken back when his truck rolled in 2012, and again in 2015 when he suffered a broken neck.  He was determined to be on his feet again going out to dinner with family and friends and attending Sunday services at First Christian Church.

Many caregivers have helped Dan since 2012.  The management and staff at Longview Good Shepherd Hospital, the management and staff of Arabella of Kilgore, the members and staff of Kilgore First Christian Church, Kevin Crutchfield and staff of Elite Care, Highland Park Home Health and Encompass Home Health were all instrumental in his care. 

The family appreciates and thanks everyone who supported and cared for Dan during the past eight years.

We are especially grateful to our neighbors Dody Keiser and the late Miriam Burton who helped us so much with so many things.  In addition, we are grateful to Patti and Bruce Cunyus for their support and the elders of First Christian Church who served communion to Dan each week that he could not attend Church.

Family was very important to Dan. He was predeceased by his wife Joyce, her parents Russell and Opal Thomasson and his own parents.  He was also predeceased by two infant brothers, his brother-in-law and sister Will and Francys Ballenger Walls and their son Bill Walls; his brother Robert (Bob) Ballenger and his daughter Lynda Ballenger Glass, his brother and sister-in-law Max and Jean Ballenger; as well as Joyce’s brother and his wife Dr. Lyle and Elizabeth Thomasson.

His survivors include his daughters and their families: John and Brynda McNey, John W. McNey, Katy McNey and her fiancé’, Clay Sampson; Dr. Matt and Nancy Roberts, Joseph Roberts, Dr. Matthew and Joanie Roberts, Luke and Ben.  Other survivors are his nieces and nephews and their spouses:  Larry Glass, David and Barba Ballenger Keene, Francys Ann Ballenger, David and Mary Walls Somerville, Sandy Walls, Randy and Babs Ballenger Kersh, Greg and Beth Ballenger Welch, Tom and Jan Thomasson Leavesly, Lyle and Maggie Thomasson and John Russell and Elizabeth Thomasson as well as numerous great nieces and nephews.

Honorary Pallbearers include Rev. John Burton, Bruce Cunyus, George Cunyus, Bill Hale, Howell Hale, Peter Keiser, Edwin Slayter and Joe Watson.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Kilgore First Christian Church Scholarship Fund, 609 East Main Street, Kilgore, TX 75662 or Kilgore Rotary Flag Program, P.O Box   434, Kilgore, TX 75663.

Online condolences may be left at www.raderfuneralhome.com