Dean Harold Ball “Uncle Dean” (as he was affectionately called by many who knew him), died Saturday, March 31st in Sandpoint, Idaho. This was just about a month after his beloved pet cat “Daphne” died of old age. Uncle Dean, at age 105, then had to admit that his own body was also too worn out to be of any use. It was time to go. He was in no pain, and actually had no bona fide cause of death except “old age”. He died in his sleep, on his own volition and schedule, in full possession of his mental faculties but in a failing body.
He was born in Canton Illinois, spent his earlier life in Dixon Illinois where he attended high school with Ronald Reagan. Following graduate school with a degree in music at DePaul University, he served in the Army (World-War II), then spent most of his adult life in Taylorville, Illinois.
At the age of five he had decided he wanted to be a violinist, and that is what he did for his whole life, performing in various orchestras, and introducing thousands of students to fine music. He moved to Sandpoint in 1992 and was part of a local orchestra, until he decided at age 80 that it was too much trouble to hold a violin under his chin, so he took up the piano, practicing hours every day memorizing Chopin, Beethoven and other classics. He often presented short concerts at his annual birthday party. Besides music and petting his cat, his primary hobby was reading. He read voraciously. Once again, he chose the “classics” - (books we have all heard about but haven't actually read).
Dean was married to Beverly Huggins for 55 years, and after her death he met and married Fay Harned, a widow lady who happened to be Dr. Alan Ball's mother-in-law. Following Fay's death, he continued living on his own until the last 3 days of his life. His physical deterioration had accelerated to the point where Hospice arranged for him to live in the home of his nephew Dr. Ball in Sandpoint.
His life was an example of service, kindness and modesty. He was a true gentleman of the old school, who would automatically hold a door open for a lady many decades his junior. In spite of his quiet and unassuming nature, he occasionally would come out with some unexpected crack that could make you double up laughing. He said he didn't want any fuss or funeral. “Just take my ashes up on top of Schweitzer Mountain and let them blow away in the wind.”
He had two older brothers, Frederic Ball (Dr. Ball's father), and Robert Ball (a barn-storming pilot way-back-when). He never had children of his own, but his real family was his friends and the various nieces, nephews and grandchildren scattered from Illinois to Maine to New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Idaho, all of whom hold him so very dear.
His secret of longevity? “Lots of sugar and salt on everything and avoid exercise.” On the morning of his death, his last wish was that people everywhere could pass-on without pain or suffering, as it appeared he would be able to do.
Lakeview Funeral Home in Sandpoint is handling the arrangements. Please visit Dean's online memorial at www.lakeviewfuneral.com and sign his guest book.