Earl died peacefully on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, surrounded by loved ones. He was born in February 1928, in Homer, Michigan, the son of Ray and Mary (Sherman) Ball. The youngest of eight, he was always the baby to his sisters. On the farm, he learned the value of hard work and the meaning of a penny (they didn’t have many dollars). He was a lifelong resident of the area graduating from Homer High School in 1946. While training for the U.S. Air Force in Colorado, he met Betty Krieger. They married in December 1950. She preceded him in death in 2012. He proudly served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. He had a 38-year long career with the National Guard in purchasing, retiring as a Senior Master Sergeant, a senior noncommissioned officer. Earl was a 30-year member of the Motion Picture and Stage Hand Union. The only benefits the job offered were free movies for the family and bringing home garbage bags full of popcorn after close. In the little amount of spare time he had, you could find him outside on his John Deere tractor mowing, gardening and snow plowing. In the evenings, he would sit with Betty having a cocktail watching Johnny Carson and M*A*S*H. He could relate to the scenes on diverting supplies from the brass to the front lines, which he once did during his stint in Korea with an ice cream maker.
Earl and Betty were active members of Westlake Presbyterian Church. They cherished lifelong friendships with many members. Earl was a founding member of the volunteers who made Zoo Lights at Binder Park an annual event. In 2014, he created a fund at Binder Park Zoo for the continuing education of the animal care staff. It’s been used to send keepers to leadership, animal husbandry and welfare courses and was used to purchase a training platform that is used for all staff. After retirement, his focus was his many volunteer activities at Fort Custer National Cemetery, Salvation Army Soup Kitchen and the food pantry. He was a life member in the VFW, American Legion, Air Force Sergeants Association and the Korean War Veteran’s Association. Earl & Beth were able to celebrate his many years of military service by taking the Talons Out Honor Flight to Washington DC in 2017. Earl was a friend to everyone that he met. He never rested and was always willing to lend a helping hand. His wish as he aged was to stay in his home. He fulfilled this desire until his final days with the support of long-time friend and caregiver Heather Harris, family friend Karla Roberts, Dawn Applegate, PA-C of Day One Family Healthcare, and the caring staff from Home Care Transitions. They kindly put up with a very loud tv, a very high thermostat and made sure he was safe, comfortable and had a sugary treat everyday. Surviving are his daughter Beth and her husband David Clark of Hudsonville, MI. Burial with full military honors at Fort Custer National Cemetery will be held on Friday, June 10 at 3pm. Memorials may be made to Binder Park Zoo. Arrangements by the Richard A. Henry Funeral Home. www.henryfuneralhome.org