Posted December 6, 2012

University mourns the passing of Temple Trustee Joan Ballots

  • Ballots

Joan Ballots, a Temple trustee, alumna, donor and enthusiastic basketball fan, passed away on Dec. 6, 2012 after a long illness.

Ballots, whose devotion to Temple was matched by her support for both the academic and athletic programs, has been a member of the Temple Board of Trustees since 1995. She served on numerous committees, including the searches for former presidents David Adamany and Ann Weaver Hart.

"Joan Ballots was a tremendous advocate for Temple University, especially the Kornberg School of Dentistry and our men's and women's basketball programs. I've worked with Joan for many years and will miss her passionate participation at our board meetings and her love of Temple," said Board of Trustees Chair Patrick J. O'Connor.

Acting President Richard M. Englert echoed the chairman's reaction.

"We will all miss Joan Ballots. She has been a fixture at the university for decades. Joan has always been concerned about our tremendous students and was never happier than when she was in their company," said Englert.

Speaking during a 2005 interview, Ballots said a respect for Temple ran in her Philadelphia family's blood. Her grandfather, George Hessdoerfer, was a leather tannery operator who took classes from Russell Conwell back in the 1890s. Her father, Harry Hessdoerfer, attended Temple some 30 years later, before entering medical school.

As a student Ballots was highly active, participating on four varsity teams and the student government before being recognized as an outstanding senior.

After she graduated from Temple and went on to New Canaan, Connecticut, as a physical education teacher, she was always on the watch for students who needed focus and motivation.

A large part of her affection for the basketball team is rooted in the relationship with her late husband, John Ballots. A basketball star in high school, he was heavily recruited by colleges and universities. "He had 37 basketball offers, and he chose to come to Temple!" she recalled.

Over the next several years, John became a standout on the Temple team while earning bachelor's and master's degrees. He went on to get his dental degree from Temple too.

While he was a dental school student and she a recent graduate, John and Joan found they were both counselors at the summer program put on by legendary coach Harry Litwack. Basketball brought them together, so it seemed appropriate to solemnize the mutual attraction.

"We had a day off from camp, so we eloped!" Ballots recalled. They moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, where John set up his dental practice and Joan started her career as middle school teacher and coach.

Ballots quietly provided scholarship dollars for students who, like John, wanted to pursue a career in dentistry. They were also generous in their financial support of men's and women's basketball.

The recipient of many honors, she was especially proud of receiving the F. Eugene Dixon Jr. award from the Temple University Alumni Association for "strong and loyal support" of Temple athletics.

Through it all, there's been Temple basketball. Over the years, she had met many players and talked with them about their experiences in the classroom. Her affection for the team members was always apparent when she boasted about the academic and career achievements of "my kids."

"I hope that I am able to make a difference at Temple," she said in 2005. "My major focus has been helping our students get a great undergraduate education."