Life and ministry of Monroe Ballard, Sr. remembered
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Memphis, Tennessee
Monroe Ballard, Sr. lost his battle with cancer early Friday morning, April 25, at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 69.

Family, friends, colleagues, and countless others mourn the loss of this man and the compassion and education he provided to the underprivileged in Memphis for over 40 years.

Along with his wife, JoeAnn Ballard, Monroe Ballard began Memphis' Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc. (NCC) in 1978. Plans are in motion for a huge celebration this fall to recognize the 30 year anniversary of NCC, in particular the tireless efforts of the Ballards as they have remained at the helm of the organization.

For 30 years, NCC has served the Memphis community, meeting the practical and spiritual needs of approximately 100,000 people each year. The anniversary celebration will now take on new meaning as this one-of-a-kind man is remembered.

“The time is long overdue to honor my parents for the work they’ve done for God in the Memphis community,” says NCC Administrative Director Ephie Ballard-Johnson, who is also the Ballards’ oldest child. “I grew up with other children in my home who my parents treated like their own. While they weren’t our biological siblings, because of the way we saw my parents treat them with so much love; they became our brothers and sisters and still are to this day. All of the foster children are doing well and along with countless others touched by my parents through their work at NCC are serving the community today, continuing the legacy my parents started.”

Monroe Ballard was born on May 4, 1938, in Pocahontas, Mississippi, to Seth and Lucille Ballard. He was one of eight siblings. He developed a compassionate heart by watching how his parents served others in the community and also developed a gift for teaching skills to others through his parents’ encouragement of his curious mind. He would use both of these attributes for the rest of his life.

After attending Piney Woods Country Life School, Ballard earned a Bachelor’s degree from Alcorn State University. He then moved to Memphis in 1961 to begin his teaching career and later earned a master’s degree in special education and rehabilitation from the University of Memphis. Ballard was a devoted educator of inner-city children, teaching science at Douglas Elementary School for 30 years. His students remember him as a loving and innovative teacher who brought science to life through his unique approach. His effective approach was largely due to the fact that he was fascinated by the way things worked and passed on this fascination to his students.

His life’s work was with NCC. Until the time of his death, he was still serving as the organization’s director of operations. The ministry of NCC actually began in the Ballards’ home. Starting in the 1960s as a young married couple, the Ballards brought disadvantaged children into their home and gave them hope, love, and security while teaching them God’s way. Many of the young people who came into the loving home were Monroe Ballard’s students. NCC is modeled on the Ballards’ lifestyle of service, providing compassionate, Christ-centered ministry to the practical and spiritual needs of the poor in Memphis.

Monroe and JoeAnn, whom he married in 1966, had four children of their own: Ephie, Linda, Monroe, Jr., and Justin. In addition to his wife, children, and 75 foster children, Ballard is survived by five biological grandchildren and a host of foster grandchildren who called him “Papaw.”

Memorial donations may be made to Neighborhood Christian Centers, Inc. at 785 Jackson Ave., Memphis, TN 38107 or to the building fund at Friendship Nazarene Church, at 775 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105, a project Ballard was overseeing.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, May 2. For service information, click here.
--Mission Strategy, Church of the Nazarene