Lo­cal leg­end will be sorely missed

Billy Bal­lard well-known in Grand Falls-Wind­sor for keep­ing the com­mu­nity clean

The Central Voice - - Front Page - BY SARAH LADIK

If you spent any time at all in Grand Falls-Wind­sor in the last 30-odd years, the sight of Billy Bal­lard with his bike and cart is a fa­mil­iar one.

Fa­mous lo­cally for his work to keep the com­mu­nity clean, Bal­lard died peace­fully Sept. 2 af­ter a bat­tle with pneu­mo­nia. He was 75.

“Billy was a sweet­heart. Very kind-hearted,” said his youngest sis­ter, Deb­bie But­ler. “When I was two or three years old, he used to cut wood with Dad, and Billy Bal­lard is de­scribed by his loved ones as kind-hearted, gen­er­ous, and a nat­u­ral co­me­dian What­ever came his way, he greeted it with a ge­nial, “Not bad, is it b’y?” he saved his money and bought me a wooden rock­ing chair.”

That was not the only time Bal­lard went out of his way to help one of his 11 sib­lings. As the el­dest of them, he was a con­stant through­out their lives. But­ler said when their brother Tony went to school to be an oral sur­geon, Billy worked cut­ting wood, saved up, and helped pay his first year of univer­sity.

“Who can say that about a brother that’s men­tally chal­lenged? Not too many peo­ple,” she said. “He had a re­ally big heart.”

Both Shirley Mercer and Tonya Stroud – a mother and daugh­ter who be­tween them worked as Billy’s home-care aides for close to 20 years – can attest not only to his heart, but to his mind as well.

“He never for­got any­body,” Mercer said. “If he seen you once and met you, he would never for­get you.”

Stroud would of­ten go see Billy with her mother in the evenings, and al­though she would later take him on as a client her­self, she would al­ways see him as part of the fam­ily.

“I con­sid­ered him as my great-un­cle, I would say,” Stroud told The Cen­tral Voice.

“Like fam­ily. He was one of a kind, and he will be missed.”

Ded­i­cated as he was to col­lect­ing re­cy­clables and clean­ing up garbage, Stroud would of­ten go with Billy to help bring bot­tles to the re­cy­cling plant. A sorter there named Lloyd Brake re­mem­bers Billy as “a good old soul.”

“I knew him since I was that high,” Brake said, in­di­cat­ing about three feet off the ground. “Ev­ery­body knew him. He got a mil­lion miles on his legs from 50 years of clean­ing up.”

While Brake sus­pects Billy col­lected re­cy­clables and cleaned up garbage for the value of the work it­self and not for the ac­co­lades, he was in­deed rec­og­nized with the Mayor’s Award for his ef­forts re­cently.

“He re­ally made a huge con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­nity through that work. Billy was a leg­end, re­ally,” said Mayor Barry Manuel, who also of­fered con­do­lences to the fam­ily on be­half of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“He had what I would say is this un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion when it came to his craft. Grow­ing up here, I would see him quite reg­u­larly, and it didn’t have to be a nice sunny day for him to be out do­ing what he did. It could be the dead of win­ter and you would see him out on his bi­cy­cle.”

Af­ter decades of go­ing out in search of what oth­ers left be­hind, Billy was beloved by many and a role model for all when it came to civic pride and pitch­ing in. In the last year or so, his health de­te­ri­o­rated and he was not able to be out do­ing his work as much, but that didn’t stop him.

“Peo­ple were al­ways bring­ing bot­tles to him. You wouldn’t be­lieve how he lit up when­ever peo­ple brought bot­tles,” But­ler said.

“What does that tell you about this town? It tells you that Billy had a big heart and that peo­ple in this town had big hearts too.”

In lieu of flow­ers, do­na­tions can be made to the Billy Bal­lard memo­rial fund through Hoskins Fu­neral Home. The in­tent is to cre­ate some kind of memo­rial, though as of press time, the ex­act de­tails were un­de­cided.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

SARAH LADIK-THE CEN­TRAL VOICE

Billy Bal­lard was most known around Grand Falls-Wind­sor for his mis­sion to col­lect re­cy­clables and pick up garbage, which he put in his cart hitched to his bi­cy­cle. He con­tin­ued this work for decades.

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