Remembrances: ‘Mr. Bill’ recalled fondly by colleagues

(Oct. 18, 2016) (Editor’s note: Following the Oct. 7 death of William T. Ball Sr., longtime employee of American Farm Publications, his co-workers reflected on experiences and memories of their colleague.)

• Renee Van Pelt, vice president: “I had the pleasure of working with Bill for 25 years. Not only was Bill a great friend but he was a good employee.
We shared lots of laughs and even a few tears together. I can still hear him yelling down the hall while selling ads, ‘I got another one, girls.’
“Bill truly loved his job and this company. The last four years of Bill’s tenure with American Farm Publications, I became his supervisor. It’s hard to be someone’s friend and their boss but Bill made the transition easy for me. He treated me with the utmost respect and always did whatever I asked of him.
“He always had the knack for knowing when I needed a little pick me up. I can still hear him saying, “You know you’re doing a really good job, Sweetie.” You don’t know how many times Bill helped me through a rough spot with just a few kind words. Bill’s family at American Farm Publications is going to miss him.”
• Bruce Hotchkiss, senior editor: “Bill was a devout Christian. He brought Jesus into the office with him. A lay pastor, he often filled in for vacationing pastors at area churches and often, on Monday mornings, he would come into my office to tell me joyously of his church experience the previous day. I am sure he has been welcomed home and certainly into the angelic choir.”
• Sheila Brittingham, advertising account executive: “I worked with Bill during his time here at American Farm Publications. He always had a smile for you and would go out of his way to make your day. He had a love for photography and often framed some of his pieces and brought them to his co-workers as little gifts. He also often bought the ladies in the office a rose or candy for Valentine’s Day or any other thoughtful gift that he thought might bring a smile. He was a selfless, caring man. He loved visiting us after retirement, sometimes joining us for lunch and sometimes just to say “Hello,” but he always brought his smile with him. He will certainly be missed.
• Sean Clougherty, managing editor: “Bill Ball wasn’t my supervisor when I started work at AFP but he met me at the front door my first day and was never any less welcoming or generous with his time while we worked together.
“Rare was the occasion that Bill didn’t visit with everyone each day, curious and genuine about what was happening in his co-workers’ lives. That also went for the many many people he connected with over the phone: Subscribers, advertisers, Weather Watchers and anyone else who happened to hear, “This is Bill,” on the other end of the line.
“Over the years we shared a few long drives to conferences and trade shows and it was always a lot of fun to hear his stories of growing up on Delmarva, his military service in Vietnam and helping people through the church. There’s a lot of stories we didn’t get to but I take comfort in believing that each tale lives on in the many people he knew and loved.
• Kevin George, graphics and design editor: “It’s impossible to think of Bill Ball without also thinking of his smile, which was one of the most disarming and engaging I can ever recall. As soon as he flashed his unassuming grin, you knew you had a lifelong friend.
“That smile was a precursor of his friendliness. He was a genuine, friendly man and he enjoyed conversation to catch up with his friends, and to fill in to others what he had been up to. When the chat was over, both parties were the wiser.
“I was blessed to continue talking to Bill, even in the years after his retirement as he called in regularly to contribute his weekly weather reports for Bozman, Md., and he continued to submit his “Faith of Our Farmers” column — a miniature sermon, of sorts, and obviously a labor of love — for The New Jersey Farmer, a sister publication of The Delmarva Farmer.
“I’ll miss Bill for that smile, the friendliness — just for being a good friend. I’ll miss the opportunities to hear “Hi, partner,” the stories he shared about his Golden Retriever Tye, his wildlife photography excursions and his occasional tales of his service with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He was very nearly struck by a sniper’s bullet, which he claimed to see pass between himself and the steering wheel and the Jeep he was driving.
“I’m thankful that marksman missed those 40-some years ago and I got the opportunity to know Bill for the last 10 years or so of his life. He experienced a lot and he made us all better with his friendship. He will be missed.”
• Tiffany Polly, advertising account executive: “I met Mr. Bill 15 years ago when I first started at The Delmarva Farmer, at the time he was the circulation director. He was the first face you would see in the morning as you made your way up the stairs into the office. There was not a single day that he didn’t greet me with his familiar morning greeting, ‘Why hello there. Good morning, dear.’ Even on a bad day, his cheerful personality took lead. Some time later I began working closer with Mr. Bill when he moved into the sales department. To this day his customers still ask for him often. He made an impact on them and an even bigger one on all of us.”
• Chris Parker, advertising account executive: “I met Mr. Bill in 2005 when I started working at The Delmarva Farmer. I always was impressed that no matter what the day held for him he always seemed happy. He was definitely a people person. When my office was right behind his, I would hear him talk to people on the phone, he seemed to know just about every person that called in and always would have a kind word and many times I heard him give some advice from the good Lord. Mr. Bill took great pride in being the lay leader for the area and would come to work on Monday mornings pumped to tell me of his church experiences from Sunday when he would be a guest preacher or would play music for the churches. He would also share with me dog advice and even when he retired he would call the office and ask me how my ‘girls’ were doing. Even on the days he felt bad, Mr. Bill always asked me how I was and how the ‘girls’ were. I sure will miss those phone calls.
• Megan Messix, circulation marketer: “I had the opportunity to work very closely with Bill when I was fresh out of college. In 2006 while I was taking over the circulation department and he was transitioning back into sales, we worked hand-in-hand during the conversion of our circulation system. Many long days and nights learning the new computer system was daunting, however, Bill always had a positive outlook and gentle words of wisdom. He was definitely my rock during that learning curve.
We could always hear ‘Wild Bill’ (a nickname he picked up from some co-workers ) wheeling and dealing selling ads to his customers on the phone. He always got so excited every time he sold an ad. Even though he did this week after week he always found such excitement in his job. He formed very close relationships with several of his customers. He even kept in touch with many upon his retirement.
Most of what I’ll remember about Bill was his infectious laugh, you couldn’t help but notice it. He always enjoyed each and every day.
Bill had a very strong sense of faith. So I know that Bill is in Heaven. That gives me an overwhelming sense of peace because I know he is happy and enjoying the afterlife.