For him, it was an exercise in both joy and responsibility.
“He took his profession very seriously,” said Dr. J. Patrick Stewart, Ballard’s former partner in their medical practice.
Ballard, founder of Anniston OB-GYN Associates, died early Wednesday morning. He was 77.
During his professional lifetime, it is estimated Ballard delivered nearly 10,000 babies.
Dr. Charles Brockwell, who worked with him for 27 years, said Ballard practiced obstetrics most of his life.
“His patients always thought well of him,” Brockwell said.
He said his friend of 35 years “thoroughly enjoyed playing golf.”
“And we watched a lot of Alabama football games together.”
Stewart, Ballard’s partner for 37 years before Ballard retired in 2004, agreed that Ballard always enjoyed a good round of golf. But whether he was on the course or in the office, Ballard was always in good spirits, Stewart said.
“He was always a very nice person and kind to everybody, rich or poor, to everybody,” he said.
Stewart added that Ballard always managed to keep the mood light at work.
“In a business like this, you have to laugh a little bit,” Stewart said.
Ballard was born and raised in Birmingham. He was a graduate of Minor High School, the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Ballard came to Anniston with his family in 1965 to start a medical practice in obstetrics and gynecology. Besides founding Anniston OB-GYN, Ballard was a past president of the Alabama state section of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also served several times as the section chief of the OB-GYN department at Regional Medical Center.
Brockwell said Ballard was also a strong family man.
“He was very close with his family,” Brockwell said. “His daughter went into practice with him.”
In a 2004 article in The Star covering Ballard’s retirement, his daughter, Dr. Lucy Ballard Wiedmer, explained why she followed her father’s footsteps into the same medical field. She said that while working with her father, she not only learned about medicine, but also about how much compassion he had for his patients.
“With all the thousands of babies he’s delivered, every time he delivers yours it’s almost like the first time for him,” she said. “It’s still magical. It’s still miraculous and they can see that.”
To Brockwell, the loss of Ballard is a major loss for the entire community.
“It was a loss for Anniston because he had to retire, but now it’s a loss to all of us now,” Brockwell said.
Ballard is survived by his wife, Wynelle Ballard, his daughter, three sons and a brother.
A memorial service for Ballard will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the First United Methodist Church of Anniston.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.