Ballard dies at 83 after illness

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Special to the Reporter

A Shelby County resident, former county commissioner, local businessman and one of the founders of Brookwood Hospital died June 15, 2003, after an extended illness. Doug Ballard Sr. was 83.

Ballard is the father of current Shelby County Coroner Doug Ballard Jr., who said his father conceived the idea to build Brookwood Hospital in Homewood, and through his efforts it came into fruition.

Garry Gause, president and chief executive officer of Brookwood Medical Center, commented on Ballard’s role in the hospital’s beginning.

&uot;Douglas Ballard Sr. was one of the founding fathers of Brookwood Medical Center. He will be remembered for his vision, leadership and commitment to providing excellent healthcare to our community,&uot; Gause said.

&uot;His expertise and guidance was invaluable to Brookwood.&uot;

Prior to the construction of the hospital, Ballard enlisted help from an architect, a local realtor and a lawyer, his son said.

These four businessmen served as the steering committee known as the Valley Center Development Corporation. The Valley Center Development Corporation was formed to obtain financing, sell stock and construct the hospital &045; Brookwood.

Ballard personally paid for a bulldozer to begin clearing the property on Shades Mountain as well as for a sign to be placed on the property, in an effort to demonstrate to the public, and to prospective stockholders, that a hospital would be built on the site.

He was also instrumental in securing financial backing from the Small Business Administration.

This backing, the first in the SBA’s history for a private hospital, led the way for other financial institutions to loan the fledgling corporation the money needed to begin construction and operation.

Ballard was responsible for enlisting more than 300 local physicians and businessmen as stockholders in the corporation.

Thus, Brookwood Hospital became the &uot;Doctor’s Hospital,&uot; with new innovations, facilities and services, operated by and under the guidance and overview of the doctors and staff.

&uot;Mr. Ballard worked diligently to ensure that Brookwood had the very best technology available, even from our very beginning,&uot; Gause said.

Ballard served as president of the Valley Center Development Corporation and a member of the building committee who oversaw the actual construction of the hospital.

He served as a board member of the Brookwood Medical Center Hospital Corporation and as chairman of the audit committee, until the corporation was sold to American Medical International Corporation of California in 1980. He was then one of the major stockholders in AMI for many years.

Ballard was born in Pratt City, Ala., in November 1919.

He attended Pratt City schools until 1934 and graduated from Ensley High School with the class of 1938.

He served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II and was a charter member of the post-war &uot;Victory Class,&uot; organized at Ensley First Methodist Church in Ensley, where he also served on the Administrative Board.

Ballard’s employment began with Russell Photographic Studio in Ensley.

He then worked with Buckeye Feed and Grain of Birmingham, Tennessee Coal Iron and Railroad’s electric shop in Ensley and then with the United States Steel engineering department’s electrical laboratory in Fairfield.

His boss at U.S. Steel forced him to go to an interview with General Electric’s Medical X-ray division, his son said, where he began his medical equipment career.

He worked with GE X-ray for six years and then moved to Picker X-ray Corporation, with whom he worked for 11 years.

In 1959, he organized his own company, X-Ray Service and Sales Company, and later Ballard X-Ray Company, which he owned and operated.

He was a member of the Alabama Society of Radiological Technologists, and was, at one time, named &uot;Mr. X-Ray of Alabama.&uot;

He was the co-founder of Shelby State Bank and served as chairman of the board of directors. Shelby State Bank later became part of the Regions Bank Corporation.

Ballard lived on his Flying X Ranch in Montevallo, where he had a private airstrip from which he flew his plane, one of his great interests. He was chairman of Shelby County’s first Airport Authority.

Ballard’s foresight and forward thinking was evident in his farming activities as well.

He introduced the first Landrace pigs in Alabama in the late 1950s as well as some of the first Brahman, Charlais and Charbray cattle in the state.

The two lakes on his Montevallo ranch are home to some of the largest flocks of Mute Swans in Alabama as well as numerous species of other migrating waterfowl.

Ballard was elected as a Shelby County Commissioner in 1974, vowing to serve only one term as an &uot;honest politician.&uot;

Ballard also served on the Shelby Medical Center Board of Directors, once holding the position of chairman.

He was the interim administrator of the hospital for a short time as well.

Ballard was a member of the Montevallo First United Methodist Church, where he served on many different committees.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Betty Wesley Ballard; his son, Doug (Nancy) Ballard Jr. of Montevallo; three grandsons, Doug Ballard III (Tres) of Key Largo, Fla., Christopher Ballard of Montevallo and Andrew Ballard of Asheville, N.C.; and two great-grandchildren, Marceline and Hayden Ballard of Alabaster.

Preceding him in death were his mother, Hazel Dell Ballard, and his father, Daniel E. Ballard of Greenwood Springs, Miss.; his sister, Glen Cora Ballard; and his stepmother, Carolyn Varnon Ballard Kirkland.

Services for Ballard will be today at 2 p.m. at Southern Heritage Funeral Home with burial following at Southern Heritage Cemetery, Ridout’s directing.

The family has requested that memorial donations be sent to the Montevallo First United Methodist Church, 861 Mildred Street, Montevallo, AL 35115