An American Success Story: Jack Ballard Remembered

March 21, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Born March 30, 1927, in Mason City, Iowa, Jack Ballard graduated from University City High School in St Louis, Missouri. An all-state Linebacker, he was an Order of the Arrow Eagle Scout who was honored to escort Sir Winston Churchill around St. Louis during a visit to the U.S. during World War II. Upon graduation, Ballard enlisted and served in the U.S. Navy and was offered an athletic scholarship to attend the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Instead he accepted an academic scholarship at Princeton University. In 1950 he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in International Affairs, then completed his graduate studies at Columbia University Business School, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Economics.

Ballard had a 30-year career with Mobil Oil International, during which he held executive positions in the fields of human resources and energy economics. In 1971, as a personnel manager overseeing 3,000 executives in 100 countries, he assigned himself the “Human Resources Manager” title – making him one of the first in corporate America to use the term. His innovative style later gave him the opportunity to head up a landmark project to train Saudi Arabian workers to take over all refinery operations from foreign workers.

Jack met his wife Phoebe on a blind date, and soon began a marriage that lasted 55 years. Ballard’s career took him and his family to over 40 countries and every continent around the world. After retiring, he worked for Mobil as a consultant and trainer, educating mid-level managers worldwide in the economics of the oil industry. Ballard also spent two years “on loan” to the New York Urban Coalition, where he was responsible for personnel and finance. While at the Coalition, he started an innovative program to allow Harlem residents to own their homes, but soon became disillusioned with the politics that prevented the program from expanding.

During the 50’s the Ballards became involved in the Laymen’s Movement; a group of spiritually-minded businessmen who influenced business leaders to apply their highest values in everyday work. The Receptive Listening Course at Wainwright House was a formative experience for them, where participants quickly discovered that a listener is much more effective if he or she has self-understanding (to listen to another we first need to listen to ourselves). For the next twenty five years, the Ballards were an integral part of Wainwright House. Phoebe served as Assistant Director for years. In 1968 Jack was a trainer in the Innovative Management Program, to “help the individual manager to become a more mature, creative person who can in turn help others to develop”.

1n 1984, Jack and Phoebe introduced the Turning Points companies - authoring and leading the Third Half of Life (THL) seminars, starting with the "Going for the Gold" life transition workshop. These intensive seminars used narrative assessments and receptive listening exercises to help retiring professionals and their spouses make decisions about how they would live in their golden years. During the 1980's, the Ballards trained over 400 individuals. They wrote and self-published 2 books, Beating the Age Game - Redefining Retirement and Turning Points - Create Your Path Through Uncertainly and Change. “They were visible examples, “pioneers” I called them, of living lives of purpose and meaning, paving the way for their own generation and for the larger cohort of baby-boomers that would follow.” said former Turning Points CEO Steve Ristau, recalling the first time he met Jack & Phoebe Ballard.

More than 20 years after they began, the world has caught up with Phoebe and Jack Ballard. Turning Points is now on the internet, publishing a new edition of the Turning Points book, and rolling out a national network of providers. Their vision is finally coming true. Meg Newhouse is a life coach in Boston, who said of Jack Ballard: “He had… a wonderful life and very positively impacted a lot of people, including me.” In 2002, Jack and Phoebe’s son Mike took over management of the company. Under his leadership, Turning Points recently completed the Turning Points Navigator™ and Career Navigator™ online products. When word of Ballard’s death went out, many Turning Points students sent emails, including CU Alumna Myria Crawford, who wrote: “…Your father has left a great legacy in the Turning Points Program.”

In the next 5 years, millions of Americans will reach turning points in their lives, and Turning Points providers nationwide will be positioned to assist them. A new version of the Turning Points book will be out soon, revised and edited to speak to a wider range of adults. College and university career centers continue to add Career Navigator™ assessments and workshops to their counseling and course offerings. More students, alumni, and professionals will subscribe to Turning Points Navigator™ in order to build the foundation for discovering the meaning and purpose of their lives.

Jack Ballard is survived by his beloved wife Phoebe, three sons, a daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by family and friends alike. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:30am on May 13, 2006 at Round Hill Church in Greenwich, Connecticut to honor the life of a man who dedicated his life to the development of human potential.