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James "Sandy" Thomas Ball, Jr.

2022-09-14

This world lost another horse-whisperer and ardent animal-lover this week when James T. (Jim) Ball, Jr. passed away quietly on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, at his home in Fernandina Beach, FL. It was exactly a week after his 92nd birthday.

Jim was born on September 7, 1930, in Newark, New Jersey the son of James T. Sr. and Olive Jones Ball. He grew up there and was educated at Newark Academy and The Clark School at Hanover, NH before becoming a student of engineering at the University of Virginia. His formal education was interrupted when he joined the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean conflict. He spent most of his Army duty in Newfoundland working on the construction at Ernest Harmon Air Force Base, where he developed a keen interest in aviation. Upon his honorable discharge in 1953, he promptly began his long-term commitment to flight training and aircraft maintenance.

Jim had been an accomplished equestrian, but now added aviator to his list of skills and pursuits. His uncanny rapport with all things mechanical -- and his ability to fix almost anything -- directed his entire life. He loved to tinker. He honed his talents to become an auto and airplane mechanic, later a charter pilot as well as building contractor.

By 1959 he had relocated to Winhall, Vermont where he built houses in the summer and worked as a professional ski patrolman during the winter in between flying, sailing, and golfing. He was a true Bon Vivant, known for his ebullient good humor, quick wit, and acute sense of the absurd. He could find the amusing aspect in all but the most dire situations, and he always had a funny tale to share. His adventurous life followed his many varied interests and avocations, wherever they led him, all with conviviality and geniality.

Jim leaves behind Nancy, his wife of 32 years, two daughters from a previous marriage: Jennifer (Andy) Shaw of Manchester, VT, and Susan Ball of Bangor, ME; stepson Thomas (Molly) Aitken of Wellesley, MA; two grands Calvin and Emily Shaw also of Manchester VT; and three step-grands: Jack (Daphne) Aitken, and Lindsay Aitken, both of New York City; and Christopher Aitken of Wellesley, MA; as well as nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his parents and his sister, Jane Ball Horner, and by stepson John (Barbara) Aitken of Fernandina Beach.

Jim's cremains will be returned to Vermont, the state he called home. Plans for a memorial service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Nassau Humane Society, 639 Airport Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034, or Londonderry Volunteer Rescue Squad (LVRS), P.O. Box 911, Londonderry, VT 05148.

Jim will be missed by all who knew and loved him, and his ultimate destination in the afterlife will be a much livelier and light-hearted place for having him there.

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