Jack S. Ballard

Jack S. Ballard, 81, of Olathe, KS is singing with the angels as of February 21, 2020.  He was born in Pocahontas, AR to Larkin and Ruth Ballard on December 27, 1938.  He was a music educator for 44 years, having taught at Trumann High School in Trumann, Arkansas; Southern Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas; and at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee, KS from 1970-2005, where he taught choir, voice and guitar.  In 1999, he was the first educator to be selected KMEA Teacher of the Year, and in 2011, he was inducted into the Kansas Music Educator Association’s Hall of Fame.  In 1991, he was named the Shawnee Mission School District Kansas Teacher of the Year nominee.  He is survived by his wife, Mary Ballard, of 38 years.  He is also survived by his four children, Tina Gadwood (Bob) of Olathe, KS, Marci Handley (Chip) of Shawnee, KS, Brendan Gibson of Olathe, KS and Nathan Ballard of Los Angeles, CA.  He is also survived by two grandsons, Ryan and Dylan Handley.  Additionally, he is survived by loving relatives residing in Arkansas.  Jack’s favorite quote as an educator was, “We must inspire before we expire.” 


In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation Jack Ballard Music Scholarship.  Address:  8200 West 71st Street; Shawnee Mission, KS  66204.


A celebration of life and remembrance open house reception will be conducted March 1 from 3-6 p.m. at Thompson Barn:  11184 Lackman Road; Lenexa, KS. 


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Posted in Kansas City Obituaries, Obituaries | on Tuesday, Feb. 25th 2020 | 13 Comments »

13 Comments on “Jack S. Ballard”

  1. Jeff Cook Says:

    Mary, Tina & family:

    We were so saddened to hear of Jack’s passing. We can all take comfort in knowing he is now leading angel choirs in heaven and my mom is there accompanying them. Jack was such a huge part of our family and mom’s wonderful professional life for so many years. We loved him & will miss him. (Jeff & Kim Cook and Larry Cook)

  2. Kevin Peters and Robin Riley Says:

    Mary and family,
    We are so sorry to hear of Jack’s passing. He was a truly great educator who touched thousands of students and encouraged them to reach their highest potential and beyond. It was truly a pleasure knowing him.

  3. Allison Doubleday Cloud Says:

    The ways Mr. Ballard has impacted my life are innumerable. I learned everything I know about music and singing from him… none of my other voice teachers can compare. He cast vision for my life and my abilities like no one else could have, and I am forever grateful for him seeing things in me I couldn’t see myself.

    Mr. Ballard was renowned everywhere we traveled to perform or compete, and I was so proud to be a part of his legendary choirs. He fostered bonds between his students that will last forever, and I’m so glad to still be connected to friends and classmates 25 years after I graduated, all beginning from relationships that began in his classroom.

    He has touched so many and will be dearly missed.

    Allison Doubleday Cloud, class of 1995

  4. April Beaty Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that Mr. Ballard has passed. I was in Acapella choir with him at SM Northwest. I remember all of the events rpthat we sang at. We competed at State and got a ‘1’. Mr. Ballard will be truly missed. And he will be directing the Heavenly choir.
    Prayers to the family.

  5. Kay Heley Says:

    Dear Mary, While I only met Jack once at an Antioch gathering, I heard stories from you and know the amazing influence he had over generations of SMNW music students. You have been a good wife through sickness and in health and we send you peace and energy to get you through. Take care of you! Kay, Bill, Skylar and Logan

  6. Helen Nahrstedt Says:

    Dear Tina, Mary and family,
    I was saddened to read of Jack’s passing. He was a wonderful
    person as well as an outstanding musician. I was so blessed to be in the Leawood Baptist Church choir when he was director. He touched many lives and will be missed. My prayers and thoughts are with your family at this difficult time.
    Love,Helen, Steve and Mike Nahrstedt

  7. Melissa Hemenway Says:

    I’m heartbroken to hear of Mr. Ballard’s passing. He made such an impact on my life while he was my teacher. His constant guidance led my choir class to state multiple times, each time walking away with top scores. He will continue to remain a lasting presence in my life as well as many others.

    My deepest sympathies,
    Melissa (Bernstein) Hemenway, class of 1997

  8. Steven Hein Says:

    Dear Mary and family,

    I am so sorry to hear of Mr. Ballard’s passing. You likely don’t know me but I took guitar lessons from him for a number of years. In addition to helping me learn guitar he taught me to read music, how to sing, and how match pitch by ear. Although I had to stop lessons a number of years ago I will always fondly remember my Wednesday afternoon lessons with him. He always had a positive attitude and a kind word. He will be missed dearly. God bless.

    Steven Hein

  9. Chris Miller Says:

    I’m so thankful for the opportunity to have been able to sing in the Shawnee Mission Northwest High School choir, the last 3 years, before Jack Ballard retired in 2005. He was an amazing man, a great teacher, and an excellent leader. I’m so thankful for the lasting positive impression that he made on my life.

    I know he truly is singing with the angels.

    Chris Miller

  10. Kenneth Swearingen Says:

    A professional yet patient choir leader is missed. He brought the best heart and vocal talent from my two boys, Kent and Jeff Swearingen. His talent made Shawnee Mission choral music one of the best in Kansas. His leadership and commitment to his students made life filled with melody. His Father called him home and we salute with gratitude his noble contribution to put songs in the heart.
    (Kenneth, Jeff and Kent Swearingen)

  11. David Killingsworth Says:

    My wife, Lynn McMillin Killingsworth, and I were in Jack’s choir at SMNW his first two years there, the class of ’73. We met in choir, and have been together ever since. To me, Jack was the epitome of a southern gentleman–always well mannered and well spoken. It was obvious he cared about his students. Even when we needed disciplined, he would begin with, “Listen, my friends…” Such a beautiful voice and an excellent musician and director. I thought I would be majoring in instrumental music in college, but because of Jack’s influence chose vocal music instead. He gave me voice lessons my senior year, and my daughter many years later. I thank God for Jack Ballard, and I know that he has affected thousands of other lives in the same way.

  12. scott Goodson Says:

    Jack Ballard took me from a voice class singing a Jackson Browne song to the Northwest High School a cappella choir singing Vivaldi’s Gloria. He imparted confidence to the vocalist and musical understanding to the singer. His gift to each student was a lifetime love of vocal music. Thank you Mr. Ballard. Rest in peace and rise in glory.

  13. Meri Kay Greenwood Says:

    Mary, Tina and family,
    It’s Meri Kay Burns/Greenwood. My family and I want you to know how truly blessed we were to have known Jack. We will always remember his amazing voice and leadership at Leawood Baptist Church, and then to have been so fortunate to have crossed paths again at Martin Family Dentistry….what a bonus for me. I absolutely loved seeing his name on my schedule. He always asked about my family, each and every one of them by name, with such a loving and caring heart. He will be truly missed.
    With love and prayers for you all,
    Meri Kay Greenwood and the entire Burns Family

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