William “Ballard” Preston, Jr, 96, died in his home, The Old Mauzy Home Place, in his beloved Blue Grass Valley, Hightown. He was the son of Lelia Dew Preston and William Ballard Preston, Sr.
Ballard was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Ann “Pooh” Marshall Preston, and his sister, Betty “Biggie” Braxton Preston.
He is survived by his daughters, Lee Marshall Preston of Satellite Beach, Fla., Braxton “Brac” Preston Gutierrez of Charlottesville, Ann Reid Preston Hagan and husband, Joseph Addison “Ad” Hagan, lll, of Lexington; a son, William Ballard Preston, lll of Williamsburg; grandchildren, James Christopher “Crip” Roberts, and wife, Caitlin “Horsey,” Philip “Reid” Conners, Patrick “Paddy” Preston Conners, and wife, Ashley, Casey “Cakes” Adams Conners, Lelia “Lelo” Roberts Diaz and husband, Brandon, Marjorie “Margie” Preston Gilbert, Ann “Annie” Braxton Gilbert, David Stanford Gibson and wife, Sarah, Leigh Marshall Gibson, and John Reid Gibson; as well as a great-granddaughter, Iris Ann Roberts.
After graduation from Granby High School in Norfolk, in 1944, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp, as an Air Cadet, and served two years. He spent a year at Gettysburg College in Penn., and transferred to “The University” of Virginia, and earned a BA degree in Psychology. During his academic years he was a proud member of Beta Theta Pi.
In 1948, Ballard accepted a position in sales with the real estate firm, Myers Preston and Hill in Norfolk. Afterward he worked for 12 years as Secretary of Appraisers for Mutual Federal Savings and Loan. In 1962, he moved to Newport News when he accepted the job of President of the fledgling company, Peninsula Savings and Loan, and assisted in the growth of the company to seven branches and two hundred employees. Once ‘retired’, he again sold real estate with Abbitt Realty, in Newport News and then Sullenburger and Associates in Monterey.
During his career Ballard contributed to his businesses and community. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club in Newport News; the Blue Grass Ruritan Club, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Savings and Loan League of Virginia; Senior Warden of Christ and Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk; Junior Warden of Saint Andrew’s Church of Newport News, where he also taught Sunday School; and Registrar of The Church of Good Shepherd in New Hampden. He also served as President of Norfolk Episcopal Church Foundation, Dean of Jamestown Convocation and was on the Executive Board of the Diocese of Southern Virginia.
An avid golfer, Ballard was a member of the James River Country Club in Newport News, for 35 years and appointed President for two of those years. During this time, he was successful in eliminating the religious and racial restrictions of membership, of which he was most proud. Additionally, he established a Senior Club Golf Championship, Super Senior Golf Championship, and pleased to boast that he won both. No one would argue in addition to his love of golf, he was a fan of “the Attitude Readjustment Time,” usually in the form of bourbon.
He was known for a keen sense of humor, a marvelous tenor voice, the love of his flower and vegetable gardens and his award-winning Dahlias. He also loved to cook and enjoyed hunting water fowl as his daughters will attest. It was not unusual for one of their house guests to scream in surprise upon opening the refrigerator door, to find an avian feathered corpse awaiting plucking and dressing! He was also a dedicated dry fly fisherman, and celebrated the catching and eating of native trout, as well as salt water fishing.
Above all, there is no question of Ballard’s love of the mountains. He was introduced to the Bullpasture in the Gorge, of Highland County, as a boy of 10, and it became a yearly Preston family vacation tradition that extended throughout his and his children’s lives. It became his residence for he and his wife, as well as several of his children and grandchildren. The Preston family grew up with the love and appreciation of all things Highland and in sharing of this interest they remain a close and loyal ‘clan,’ which gave Ballard great pride.
This notice would be remiss if it did not mention the two close friends who shared his affection for Highland County, the late John Miller Payne who resided in Monterey, and the late Thomas “Tommy” Randolph McNamara, who resided in Blue Grass. Tommy and Ballard knew each other from birth, John, later, upon introduction while at “The University.” Their families grew up together resulting in lifelong friendships and even holy matrimony. They all had homes in the county and for decades hunted, fished, porch sat at times with John’s mother’s hats of many shapes, colors and sizes, during the “the Attitude Readjustment Time!” These events are legendary. It is certain that once properly reunited with all loved ones in the Universe, waiting patiently behind the crowd will be Tommy and John holding fishing rods, asking, “What took you so long?”
The Preston family would like to extend much love and appreciation to Polly Turner of Monterey, Vicky and Mike Mauzy and Intrepid Hospice of Staunton.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m., Saturday, June 3, 2023 at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. Additionally, a Celebration of Life will follow immediately throughout the afternoon at Ballard’s home, the Old Mauzy Home Place, 492 Mauzy Lane, Monterey, Va. 24465. Don’t forget your hat!
Inurnment will be at a later date in the Preston Family Cemetery at Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 7, Blue Grass, VA 24413; Highland County Rescue Squad, PO Box 268, Monterey or to the Historic Smithfield, 1000 Smithfield Plantation Road, Blacksburg, Va. 24060.