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David Lee Ball

July 25, 1945 ~ August 4, 2018 (age 73)

David L. Ball, 73, of Columbia, MD, passed away Saturday August 4th at home with his wife Sue, son Nathan and daughter Liz by his side.  He had just entered hospice that day after a nine month battle with leukemia. 

David was born July 25, 1945 in Champaign, IL, graduated from Urbana High School and attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, graduating with a degree in Astronomy in 1967.  He started graduate school at the Astronomy Program, University of Maryland, College Park in the fall of 1967.  He met his wife, Sue, in 1969 when she joined the Astronomy program.  They met many of their life-long friends in that program, enjoying the social fun as well as the Astronomy studies.  The gang enjoyed Friday pizza lunches in the department and Tuesday 1/2 price evening dinners at the old Italian Gardens, where a proposal was given and accepted. They were married June 25, 1972, in Lebanon, PA on the Sunday after hurricane Agnes – adding lots of extra excitement to the event.

David enjoyed following, photographing and riding steam trains.  His roommate in Maryland, George Fleming, was a bad influence.  Along with Jim Novaco, another Astronomy/NASA friend who enjoyed following the steam trains, David took many steam trips, often accompanied by Sue, Nathan and Liz.  A favorite of Sue and Dave’s was the 5-day 1973 Independence Limited trip leaving July 4th from Chicago to DC, all behind the steam engine Southern Railway 4501. George was on this trip too.  David and George took the train to Florida for the night launch of Apollo 17, the only night launch of a Saturn V, on December 7, 1972.  The start of Sue and Dave’s wedding was held up a bit because the groom, best man, George, and photographer, Jim, were all checking out the train running on the tracks 1 block from the church.  Someone had to go find them to start the wedding.

Cats have been a part of our family, starting in 1975 with Alcie (short for Alcyone, one of the Pleiades sisters – a star group) who came from the barns at U of MD.  David loved to have a cat on his lap, his favorite way to nap in his chair.  Ball family vacations were usually spent with Sue’s family at a cottage in Canada, swimming, fishing and enjoying good food and fun.  A second week was spent camping with family and friends at Sandy Cove in Ocean View, DE, multiple generations, up to 8 campsites, clamming, cooking, and singing around the camp fire.  Thanksgivings were usually spent with David’s family in Illinois.  There was one memorable trip when the 4 of us took Sue’s parents’ old RV across country in July 1993.  We had lots of challenges including a fire in the console and replacing the transmission in Billings, MT.  Going up mountains required turning the AC off and the heat on, and sometimes we stopped to cool down the engine.  The trip created lots of great memories and we did ride the Denver & Silverton narrow gauge steam railroad both ways.

David started work for Computer Sciences Corporation in 1976, and remained with the same company until he retired in August 2010.  He worked as a computer analyst on many contracts, including NASA in Greenbelt, the Hubble Space Telescope in Baltimore, the Social Security Dept., the Treasury Dept., and the IRS.

He was active in his church, singing in the choir. Sue and Dave took their first Disciple Bible Study series at their church, Mt. Zion UMC in Highland.  He gravitated to the study and preparation, teaching all of the 5 different Disciple studies, some multiple times.  David realized he had a problem with alcohol and had been alcohol free for 8+ years.  He loved the fellowship at the Alano Club in Columbia; he felt a spiritual presence there.  Attending the Saturday 10 am meeting was his goal every week for the last 3 months.

He always enjoyed watching sports, in later years this included the Washington Capitals and all women’s sports, as he was stuck watching what his wife put on the TV.  For a few years they had season tickets to the Lady Terps championship basketball team, even attending one of the ACC championships in Greensboro, NC.  He watched the last game of the Stanley Cup from his hospital bed the last time he was admitted.  During his last few weeks, he wore a Caps shirt almost every day, and his new championship Caps hat. 

David is survived by his wife Susan (Sue) Brewer Ball of 46 years, son Nathan M. Ball of Columbia, MD, daughter Elizabeth A. Ball (Paul-Dominick Foisy) of Miami, FL, grandchildren Alex P. Ball and Abigail J. Ball of Frederick, MD, and his sister Sharon (Sis) Hyland of Savoy, IL.  His older brother Ronald Ball (Bonnie) of Savoy, IL passed away just 5 weeks earlier.

In lieu of flowers, donations (especially blood donations) can be made to the Red Cross or the Jimmie V Foundation for Cancer Research [].  David’s life was extended because of the donations of blood and platelets.  The family thanks all blood donors.

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