Eagle Rock native earns honors in Richardson, Texas

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Dr. Arzell Ball, raised on a hillside farm north of Eagle Rock, is pictured with the memorial that includes part of his WWII uniform, medals and military photo that marks the Arzell Ball Center and Veterans Memorial Park in Richardson, Texas. Ball, once superintendent of schools in Kansas, and serving outstanding districts in Wyoming and Nebraska, later led the Texas district to distinction among the top 25 districts in the United States. Ball, who lost part of his left leg in Germany during World War II in Germany, began his education career in the former Seligman schools. Contributed photo

Center and Veterans Park named after long-time educator

After a distinguished career in education in a number of states, an Eagle Rock native has been accorded another honor by his present home in Richardson, Texas.

Dr. Arzell Ball, who was raised on a farm north of Eagle Rock now has his name on the Arzell Ball Center and Veterans Memorial Park in Richardson.

Ball started his career as an educator in the Seligman schools. He was a graduate of Cassville High School and was drafted in World War II at the age of 17, without having received his high school diploma. He served 1943-1945 in Europe where he was wounded and subsequently lost his left leg below his knee.

Eventually arriving in Shawnee-Mission (Kan.) School to take over an expanding district that had been termed ďripe for change,Ē Ball immediately responded to a challenge by a new board of education and public interest to serve a student body eventually numbering 45,000. Growth in the district was being boosted by Kansas incentives for business, corporations and industry to move across the state line from Missouri.

Eventually, the district was recognized as one of the tops in education and facilities in the United States. Ball was recognized in the Shawnee-Mission district for his openness with the faculty and patrons and his public relations approach with the public.

Ball, 41 years of age at that time, also left his mark on a top-flight education in Lincoln, Neb., and Wyoming, arriving in Kansas in 1967. One of his initial actions in Shawnee-Mission district was to reduce administrative costs, providing additional funds for classroom instruction and a growing need for facilities. He reacted to plans of a completely new board of education, which had been elected over incumbents who had apparently lost touch with patrons of the district.

Departing the midwest in 1982, he served that top-25 rated district until 1984, still following his directions in education and continuing to achieve recognition for his efforts throughout the United States. Richardsonís district was top-ranked in national Academic Decathlon six times over a period of 10 years. Under Ballís leadership, the district passed a whooping $55.8 million bond issue with a 70 percent approval margin.

Back to the Shawnee-Mission districtís history, three members of Cassville high school class of 1953, Tom Moss and Jeanette Cowherd served as music directors and eventually as administrators. Shelley Mitchell Bartkoski was public relations director 1995-2000. Cowherd eventually moved along to become superintendent in a prestigious district in the north part of Kansas City. Another connection to the R-4 district was the late Gene Tilley, once principal and superintendent, was a high school principal in the Johnson County Kansas district.

Ball, 92, and his wife Thelma, remain active in their surroundings in Richardson. They are parents to a pair of daughters.

Ballís WWII injuries provided him with one of the first automatic drive vehicles to arrive in Barry County. He proudly displayed the vehicle at every opportunity in and around Cassville. He accepted an invitation from the Cassville alumni to address their banquet several years ago, sharing his experiences in rural school education in Barry County and on through his processes of reaching a doctorate in education. He also provided a heavy dose of happenings in his tenure in the Seligman schools.

Ballís proud sister, Charlene Fulton, of Cassville, has been anxious to share the information of her brothers activities and honors with this community.

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