Burnet County mourns loss of Constable Jimmy Ballard

Precinct 3 Constable Jimmy Ballard




By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Burnet County Precinct 3 Constable Jimmy Ballard died early Monday, July 2, after losing a two-year fight with cancer and being removed from life support late Sunday. He was 57.

Funeral arrangements were pending Monday morning with Clements-Wilcox Funeral Home in Marble Falls.

“Jimmy passed away this morning,” said Burnet County Sheriff's Capt. Chris Jett, who served as Precinct 4 constable alongside Ballard for many years. “He was a good man, a true servant, and my friend. I will miss him very much.”

Jett said Ballard was escorted back to Marble Falls by a volunteer group comprised of Burnet County Sheriff's Office, Marble Falls Police Department, Burnet Police Department, Bertram Police Department, Liberty Hill Police Department and the Precinct 1, 2 and 4 Constables.

“In addition, several Burnet County elected officials joined in the escort, and many county employees lined the road in Burnet in respect for Jimmy,” Jett said. “The escort went off without a hitch and Jimmy's family was grateful for the outpouring of love and support.”

Jett said not only was Ballard a good friend, but he mentored him through the process of becoming a constable.

“When I took over as the Precinct 4 Constable in the middle of a term, Jimmy was there to help me,” Jett said. “He helped me navigate the world of civil process and being an elected official. He was always meticulous and professional in how he handled his duties. We developed a friendship and shared many meals, laughs, and tears together over the years.

“Jimmy was a very caring person. He was always quick to volunteer and help. One time, he drove me home from the hospital after I had surgery. He spent many hours volunteering time with the Shriners and other organizations. He always gave back to the community.

“Perhaps what I will remember most about him is his sense of humor. Even while going through the struggles of fighting cancer, he was quick with a joke and loved to needle his friends and be needled in return. It was his love language. That's what I will miss the most.”

Tributes to Ballard began to appear on Facebook after news of his passing became public.

“Prayers for Jimmy Ballard's family during this difficult time. May they find strength in their memories of him,” said incoming Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Jane Marie Hurst, who would have worked closely with Ballard when she takes office in January.

“Jimmy was just a great guy and everyone loved him,” County Judge James Oakley said. “He was involved in lots of things in this community. Our prayers go out to his wife and family.”

Because Ballard's death leaves a vacancy for Precinct 3 Constable, Oakley said Burnet County commissioners will consider making a temporary appointment to succeed Ballard at their July 10 regular meeting. This person would serve in office only until Jan. 1, 2019.

Section 202 of the Texas Election Code requires the unexpired term of the officeholder to be placed on the November general election ballot if a vacancy occurs before 74 days prior to the general election, which would be Friday, Aug. 24.

State law requires any vacancy which occurs more than 74 days prior to a general election to appear on the general election ballot. This year's general election will be held Nov. 6.

“Since it is after the primary season, the executive committee of each party has the opportunity to provide a name to be placed on the ballot,” Oakley said. “The winner of the November general election would begin serving out the unexpired term in January.

“We will still make an appointment and that person would fill the position between now and Jan. 1, unless it is the same person who wins the election, which means they would continue to serve out the remainder of the term.”

Ballard was a 1978 graduate from Chisholm High School in Enid, Oklahoma, and attended Seminole Junior College in Seminole, Oklahoma, where he studied law. Ballard was a sergeant with the Lago Vista Police Department from 1985 to 1987 before going to work for the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office from 1988 to 1992.

In 1994, he was elected as a Republican to be Burnet County Precinct 3 constable and began serving in that capacity in January 1995, making him the longest-tenured constable at the time of his death.

“Since first starting this job in 1995, I have already accomplished quite a bit. As senior constable the training I have received and my experience make me far more qualified to do this job without any doubt,” Ballard told The Highlander in 2016. “My greatest contribution to life so far is that I have been able to manage several businesses at one time without any interfering with the other. Although I am now cutting back to law enforcement 'only,' I have no regrets. I am proud of what I have accomplished in life and do not wish things would have gone any differently.”

Ballard also was owner of Ballard Electric before closing the company to concentrate on his law enforcement duties. Among the work he did was wiring of the Granite Shoals Fire Station at 8410 West Ranch to Market Road 1431, for which he was honored by the Granite Shoals Fire and Rescue and the Granite Shoals City Council. He owned Starlight DJ and Sound Company as well.

Ballard served on the Marble Falls City Council for several years and was a former director of the Burnet County Fair and Rodeo Association. He was a life member of the National Rifle Association and the Hill Country 100 Club, which supports first responders and their families, and was also a member of both the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce and the Burnet Chamber of Commerce. He was also involved with First Baptist Church of Marble Falls and Habitat for Humanity.

Last year, Ballard was elected an officer with the Highland Lake Shriners, a philanthropic organization which encourages contributions to treat children at the Shriners Hospital in Houston, and the UTMB Burn Hospital in Galveston.

He married his wife, Linda Wall Ballard, in August 1991 and the couple had two children — daughter Brook Ballard Hanson, who is married to Marble Falls Police Capt. Glen Hanson, and son Garrett.

In 2016, Jimmy Ballard was being treated for a kidney issue when a CT scan revealed a tumor in one of his kidneys, which had to be removed, as well as several lymph nodes.

He was later diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and given months to live, but he fought hard against the cancer that had raged inside of him and survived two years, thanks to an aggressive and experimental form of treatment.

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