Edgar Lee Ball

November 9, 1926 ~ October 12, 2010

Edgar Lee Ball, Eddie, 83, of Lake Charles died at 5:08 AM on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 in a local hospital.

The working men and women of this country lost a great champion when Edgar Lee Ball "Eddie" was called home. Eddie had a quiet strength and determination. He was exceedingly humble and would be the last to tell you of his incredible history.

Born in Pottsboro, Texas to J. Emmitt and Ethel Ball on November 9, 1926. Eddie had a life-long love of politics. He was a National Debate Champion from Dennison High School and progressed to making speeches for U.S. Rep. Sam Rayburn. He interrupted his political career to serve in World War II in the Army Air Corps, and later received degrees from the University of Texas and the South Texas College of Law.

Eddie practiced labor law with Chris Dixie and helped form the Harris County Democrats in Houston, Texas. He joined the United Steel Workers of America in 1957 as a political and legislative director. He served as a legislative liaison for President Lyndon Johnson and was instrumental in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1976, he was named Director of District 37 over Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. In 1984 he became International Secretary-Treasurer of the USWA. He retired in 1993.

Eddie was not only a labor leader, but a coalition builder and an organizer without peer. He didn't shout, never spoke first but always wound up leading. He was a delegate to several State and three National Democratic Conventions. He served on the Democratic National Committee from 1980-1984. He was appointed by President Carter to the Steel Tripartite Advisory Committee. Eddie's fervent interest in the economic well being of ordinary people led to him being an Executive Board member of the AFL-CIO's Union Label and Service Trade Department; the Advisory Committee of the American Productivity Center; the board of the Southern Labor Institute; the Economic Policy Council of the United Nations Association; and the British North American Committee. He was inducted into the Texas AFL-CIO Hall of Fame in 2002.

After retirement he served as the labor representative on the Board of the LTV Corporation and the Texas Workforce Commission. He also spent many happy hours fishing on the lake with his children, grandchildren and old friends by his side.

Eddie lived and breathed politics and he spent his life fighting tirelessly for worker and human rights, always standing up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves. A man of conscience and principle, he was advisor to five U.S. Presidents, a political leader and a pillar of his union, the United Steelworkers of America. Eddie knew politics as the art of the possible. He felt it was the way to bring fairness and opportunity to working families and to make life better for all Americans. To his family and friends he was unfailingly kind, wise and generous. He was a national treasure and his contributions to society will be long lasting.

Eddie was one of a kind.

The family wishes to thank Dr. Lynn Speight, Dr. Ben Thompson, Lincare and Southern Home Health for their loving care.

Those left to cherish his memory are his loving wife, Sue Ellen Land Ball of Lake Charles; three daughters and husbands, Gale Ball Brown and Conrad of Steamboat Springs, CO, Shelley Goldstein Cox and Tom of Beaumont, TX, and Penny Rigney and Ross of Lake Charles; two sisters, Midge Ball of Denver, CO and Betty Ball of Lake San Marcos, CA; one brother, Dale Ball of De Land, FL; sister and brother in law, Judy and Lloyd Provost, nine grandchildren, Hannah and Connor Brown, Zach Picard, Jordan and Juliet Goldstein, Mac and Jack McHale, and Daisy Jane and Rosco Rigney and nieces and nephew,s Laurie Gross, Dustin Black, Larry Ball, Brandon Ball, Jon Blessing, Paxton Ball, Shannon Provost, and Christopher Provost.

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Cheryl Ball; parents, Jesse Emmitt and Ethel Viola Chesnutt Ball; a brother, Harold Dean Ball; and two former wives, Melba Marie Ramsour Ball and Mary Maravich Ball.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Friday, October 15, 2010 in the Johnson Funeral Home Chapel. Cremation was entrusted to Johnson Funeral Home.

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  1. Dear Ms. Sue:I am extremely sorry to hear about the death of Mr. Ball. I know this is a very special loss for you. I feel very fortunate to have known and worked with both of you. You and Mr. Ball were a great assest to the Workforce Board. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  2. Dear Sue, I was so sorry to read about Eddie's death in the paper. I remember how happy I was for you when you married him. I'm glad that you've had these years. He was a great man and admired by so many people. His accomplishments are astounding. My condolences to you and to all your family. Much love, Anne Maresh Wheeler

  3. Sue,I am very sorry to learn that Eddie has passed away. Sam Dawson called me yesterday with this terrible news. Eddie was a great positive influence and always a force for progessive change to help people. There are literally thousands and thousands of people who have a better life because of Eddie. Please take comfort in knowing that Eddie touched the lives of many and his passing is mourned by many. Sincerely, Bruce Fickman

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