- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

RICHMOND (AP) — Former Delegate Robert Bates Ball Sr., who was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee for five years, died Sept. 2 at his Henrico County home. He was 88.

Mr. Ball, a Democrat who served in the House of Delegates for 24 years, had been in failing health for some time.

As the leader of the House budget-writing panel, Mr. Ball was instrumental in securing funding for downtown Richmond’s biotechnology research park. He also led the move to locate the Library of Virginia on the north side of Broad Street and was honored as state library president emeritus.

Shortly after he became chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a shower was installed in his office in the General Assembly Building at taxpayer expense. Mr. Ball blamed his predecessor.

Mr. Ball was defeated in a Democratic primary in 1995 by A. Donald McEachin, a Henrico lawyer.

Born in Caroline County and raised in Richmond, Mr. Ball dropped out after junior high school and went to work because of the Great Depression. He began working as a butcher at a Safeway supermarket in 1936 and became manager of the store four years later.

He remained with Safeway for 16 years, except for four years spent as a Marine Corps drill instructor at Parris Island, S.C., during World War II. He also was a Virginia Army National Guard veteran.

Mr. Ball began investing in real estate in 1952, buying a 20-unit motel on U.S. 1 north of Richmond. As president of Ball Realty Corp., he expanded into land and hotel development and was instrumental in converting the William Byrd Hotel into affordable housing for the elderly.

He served on the Henrico County Planning Commission and then the Board of Supervisors before being elected to the House in 1971.

Delegate Franklin P. Hall, Richmond Democrat, said Mr. Ball took a special interest in Virginia’s public libraries.

“He was clearly one of their primary advocates for many years,” Mr. Hall said.

Survivors include a daughter, Roberta Lee Rivers of Richmond; a son, Robert B. “Burch” Ball Jr. of Hanover County; three sisters, Ceilly Titmus, Iva Brannan and Mary Kirkland, all of Richmond; and four grandchildren. His wife, Edna Henry Hurt Ball, died in February.

A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Chamberlayne Baptist Church. Burial will be in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

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