Thursday, April 20, 2023

Charles Arthur "Chuck" Ballard, 1931-2023

Charles Ballard, November 11, 1931 - April 14, 2023

DIXON — Charles Arthur “Chuck” Ballard, 91, passed away on Friday, April 14, 2023, from complications following hip surgery. He was born on Nov. 11, 1931, to Arthur and Myrtle (Phillips) Ballard near Leaf River, Ill. His parents were farmers and lived on various farms that his dad managed in western Ogle County. He was raised on an old-school farm where everyone pitched in and did their part.

While there, he attended a one-room schoolhouse in Pine Creek Township, then went on to graduate from Leaf River High School. He entered the U.S. Navy and served as a medic on the aircraft carrier USS Gilbert Islands, a Commencement Bay-Class escort carrier. He then attended the University of Illinois, College of ACES, graduating with degrees in horticulture and business management. He studied in the famous Morrow Plots and was voted Most Eligible Bachelor of the entire university. His career began with Del Monte, which took him to Rochelle, IL. While there he met his wife, Jacqueline (nee Kilfoil), who fixed him up with a friend of hers, but it was his post-date conversations over coffee with Jackie that led them to start courting. They were married on Labor Day Weekend, 1960, in Franklin Grove, IL. Jackie was seven years his senior and Chuck became an instant dad to her children, Billie Duncan and Tom Duncan.

His career with Del Monte took them to Indiana, living in Frankton, Frankfort and Fort Wayne, before taking a position as the store manager at the Sears Catalog Store back in Rochelle. In 1967, he became the first director of the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District, which initially ran out of their dining room. While establishing the park district he met his lifelong friend, Phil Nye, Jr., and those two created thousands of memories together hunting, fishing, dinners with their wives and a trip out west in 2021 that was one for the books. His next career move was to White Pines State Park in Oregon, IL to serve as its head ranger. There are so many wonderful family memories at The Pines while they lived in the park. He then was promoted to Assistant Regional Manager with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, he was involved in everything to do with the state parks, from managing the staff to securing equipment and working on projects.

He and Jackie lived life to the fullest, always a spark and laughter when they were around. He taught all his granddaughters to fish and lessons such as what a poison ivy plant looks like, that came in handy. They always lived at a house with a fantastic sledding hill for the granddaughters, and he would walk outside barefoot in the winter to greet guests. He and Jackie split their time between Dixon, Florida and Wisconsin, no one ever truly knew where they were at any given time, but we knew they were having a ball. Their cabin in Mauston, WI was a woodsy gathering place for family and friends, fishing was always on the agenda. Chuck spent much of his spare time outdoors, hunting and fishing, he was an excellent shot and holidays always included something he’d bagged during hunting season. Jackie wasn’t the best gamecook, but we all ate it anyway.

He was a patient teacher and guide, a fair leader and devoted to his family and friends, and he loved ice cream more than anyone we knew. Charlie could spin a tale like no other, he was an incredible storyteller. Many times he’d say, “did I tell you about the time …” and we all knew we were in for a treat. He was always positive, pleasant and content, even while enduring sorrowful losses and facing the challenges of aging.

Chuck is survived by his son, Tom Ballard of Byron; son-in-law, Neil O’Malley of Belvidere; niece, Barbara Ballard of Dixon; five granddaughters: Cathy (Mike) Dummer of Middleton, WI, Colleen (Gregg) Petrosky of Sterling, IL, Mary (Greg) Pippert of Buffalo, MN, Ellen O’Malley of Rochelle and Jenny (Dan) Pakenham of Rochelle; grandson-in-law, Scott (Kate) Loos of Kronenwetter, WI; great-grandchildren: Abby (Kevin) Martin of Decatur, IL, Patrick (Kailee) Petrosky of St. Paul, MN, David Dummer of Scottsdale, AZ, Taylor Renner of Rochelle, Molly Petry of Rochelle, Katelyn Dummer of Middleton, WI, Mitchell Petrosky of Dubuque, IA, Margaret Pippert of Minneapolis, MN, Nora Petry of Normal, IL, Eliza Petry of Urbana, IL, Isaac Pippert of St. Cloud, MN and Logan Loos of Kronenwetter, WI as well as great-great-granddaughter, Aria Brake of Rochelle.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Jackie, in September of 2010; his daughter, Billie O’Malley of Belvidere, IL in May of 2020; his parents, Arthur and Myrtle Ballard of Oregon, IL; his brother and sister-in-law, Phil and Shirley Ballard of Oregon, IL; and his granddaughter, Jane O’Malley Loos of Kronenwetter, WI.

A visitation will be held on Sunday, April 23, 2023 from 1-4 p.m. at Unger-Horner Funeral Home, 400 N. Sixth St., Rochelle. A burial with military honors will be on Monday, April 24 at 10 a.m. at Plainview Cemetery in Mount Morris. A luncheon and celebration of life will be hosted by the family at noon at the VFW in Rochelle. Bring your funny stories because we’re going to celebrate a wonderful man. Memorials may be made to the American Parkinson’s Disease Association or Rochelle VFW Post 3878. Visit to sign the online guest book. Obituary | Charles Ballard | Unger-Horner Funeral Home & Cremation Service (

Chuck was my father's cousin. September 2018.
We met in 1959 when students at U. of I. 

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