Joe M. Ball spent his life helping people as a professor, administrator, father and son.
Mr. Ball, who was the founding president of the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville, died Monday at Southwoods Assisted Living Community in Titusville, Pa. He was 93.
Mr. Ball graduated from the University of Texas and received his Ph.D. in general speech with emphasis on speech pathology and audiology at the University of Southern California, where he met his future wife, Norma Schouweiler.
During World War II, he served in the Navy in the Pacific assigned to the USS President Adams from 1943 to 1945, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He received five battle stars and a Letter of Commendation following a landing on Guam, and also saw combat at Luzon, Iwo Jima and Bougainville.
In 1948, he moved to Pittsburgh to accept a position with the University of Pittsburgh's speech department. Mr. Ball quickly rose to a tenured professor in the department and in 1963, he became the founding president of the Titusville campus.
Mr. Ball's work there helped bring world-class higher education to the region, said youngest son George Ball of Richmond, Va.
"He did it with grace, honor and hard work," George Ball said. "He really helped the region and town of Titusville. He gave the opportunity of higher education to people who wouldn't have otherwise had it."
Mr. Ball knew the university's students, faculty and staff and always offered to help, George Ball said. When a secretary was too cold during the winter months because of her desk's location near the door, Mr. Ball personally lifted and moved the desk to a new location.
After his retirement from the university in 1983, the campus' first dorm was named in Mr. Ball's honor.
Other children used to refer to the Ball house as 'Candyland' whenever they came over to the house, as there were no rules, George Ball said.
"[Our parents] kept us out of danger but were not the controlling standard," he said.
Mr. Ball always would threaten to take off his belt as a form of punishment for his children, which he never had to do. But, once at the dinner table, Mr. Ball stood up and took off his belt, only to have his shorts fall off.
"We all, including him, were laughing," George Ball said.
Mr. Ball enjoyed tennis and passed the love for the sport on to his sons. The Southwest Tennis Association named the Ball family the Tennis Family of the Decade in 1980 for more than 700 tournament wins collectively, George Ball said.
"As little as five months ago, we would throw him a tennis ball in his room at the assisted living and he would hit it with a tennis racket," he said.
Mr. Ball also is survived by sons William Ball of Wallingford, Pa., and Joe Ball Jr., of Lake Elsinore, Calif.; daughter Eda Scales of Titusville; 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. today at St. James Memorial Episcopal Church in Titusville.
Memorial donations may be made to St. James Memorial Episcopal Church, 112 E. Main St., Titusville, PA 16354 or to The Titusville Promise c/o Titusville Alumni Association 302 E. Walnut St., Titusville,
Claire Aronson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1964.