Remembering Raymond J. Ballard

RJ Ballard ovalCommunity must be spelled with a J. for the way Raymond Ballard lived his life, community was his middle name. He was born in North Carolina, but found destiny in New York City. He moved to Harlem in 1960 with his high school sweetheart and wife. They had four children: Cynthia, Anthony, Sharon, and Adriane.

The mid-sixties found the Ballard family moving to Sumner Houses in Williamsburg.  He began working with the Boy Scouts and this ignited his community service drive. He ran for president of Sumner Houses Tenants Association and won. He served in this role for thirty-two years, until his passing.  During his leadership, a senior center was created, which provided meals, exercise programs, arts & crafts, sewing lessons, and occasional trips outside of the city. He also established a food pantry, a nutritional program, and a library to assist lower income tenants.

Although his glaucoma advanced to a state where he was legally blind in the 1980s, he saw no obstacle to his community service. He retired from his work as a shipping clerk at August Thomsen after over twenty years of giving exemplary service. He then dedicated himself full-time to the community. He spoke out on the stigma attached to public housing residents and rejected the stereotypes used to keep his community down. He set about setting a standard that other housing developments would follow.

Among the numerous accolades Mr. Ballard received was the New York Daily News featured him as part of their “A Stand Up New Yorker” series.  He was a master negotiator, for instance he wouldn’t allow a business to open in the community unless it benefited the residents.  He worked with sponsors and elected representatives to help fund community services.

 

Mr. Ballard was called home on May 9, 2019, just two weeks shy of his 79th birthday.  He is survived by his children: Cynthia, Anthony, Sharon, and Adriane; his grandchildren Tyrell and Taylor; his sister, Mary; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Author: The Greenline

Your monthly source for North Brooklyn community news covering Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. Currently 13,000 copies are distributed throughout the community free of charge.

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