Frankie Baten Ball, Jr.
Frankie Baten Ball, Jr. passed peacefully on Friday, Dec. 21, 2007, in his Laytonsville, Md., at home following a courageous five-year battle with cancer. His wife, Marilyn, was at his bedside at the time of his death.
Frankie was born to the late Frankie B. Ball, Sr. and Robbie Lee Kerr in Seguin, Texas, on Nov. 2, 1945. He is the great-great-grandson of Dr. William B
. Ball, founder of Seguin”s Lincoln-Ball School.
At a very early age, Frankie recognized his passion for music, and he turned to the trumpet as his choice of instrument. His skills were honed with private lessons, beginning in the fifth grade, from his mentor for many years, Robert Sidle, Band Director of Seguin”s Ball High School. Frankie”s special talents as a young musician were quite evident well before he graduated from Ball High School in 1963. He became an accomplished trumpeter who was highly sought after to perform in area rhythm and blues groups as well as the high school marching and performing bands.
Following high school graduation, Frankie attended Prairie View A&M University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education in 1967. He later earned a Master of Arts in Music Education from Prairie View in 1974.
Those college days provided a wealth of opportunities for learning and professional growth in the music field. Frankie excelled in the marching and symphonic bands, and became affiliated with several campus organizations, including the Club Crescendo and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Frankie”s work history spanned more than 38 years of performing and teaching music during which time he formed many longstanding relationships with students, parents, school faculty and staff, as well as with other musicians. During his early years he was the Instrumental Music Director at several schools in Texas, and later in Ohio.
Frankie pursued his music performing and teaching interests concurrently for more than 15 years before deciding to concentrate on what evolved as his greater passion -teaching. He left the bright lights of the performing arts world with many achievements, including the opportunity to accompany national recording artists.
This decision led him to Montgomery County in 1977, where Frankie joined Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Md., acting as the Instrumental Music Director until 1980. His tenure coincided with a period in which the county significantly increased representation of minority faculty and staff at Richard Montgomery, and Frankie became part of a network of individuals who have maintained a special bond and connection even to this day.
In 1980, Frankie became the Instrumental Music Director, and later the Music Department Chair, at Thomas W. Pyle Middle School in Bethesda, Md. There he enjoyed the remaining years of his career, and became deservedly renowned for his excellence in developing outstanding instrumentalists. He impressed those who knew his work with his nurturing style for each and every one of his students. He gave students a love for music by being a positive role model who mingled healthy doses of life skills and humor with his teaching, and in doing so, gained the respect and high regard of his colleagues and community. This commitment to excellence, through hard work, disciplined practice, and humor, resulted in his bands, orchestras, and jazz ensembles consistently receiving excellent and superior ratings at annual county, state and regional competitions throughout his career.
His dedication to education often went beyond the classroom. Frankie worked with children and adults in numerous roles. He founded the Junior Honors Jazz Ensemble for Montgomery County Public Schools and conducted it for five of its nine years. As a member of The People”s Community Baptist Church, he directed the church”s orchestra. He also ran two summer sports programs for disadvantaged youth: the Gatewood Tennis Program and a Police Athletic League tennis program. Frankie served on numerous school boards, and he was an active member of the Maryland Band and Orchestra Directors Association, the National Association of Jazz Educators, and the Maryland Education Association. Among his greatest honors was his nomination for The Washington Post 2006 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, and his selection as the school representative to accept the Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education for Pyle Middle School”s outstanding achievement and improvement in 2006. Frankie also shared on numerous occasions that the biggest highlight of his life was the Tribute Concert held in his honor on Jan. 7, 2007. Two hundred of his former students returned to perform as part of the program that drew more than 1,200 attendees. It was during this event that he recognized how much his students had achieved over the years, noting that “I can see that they have expected excellence of themselves as well. I can only hope that these young people will all continue to reach toward these goals and meet each of the challenges life gives them.”
Frankie not only loved music but was an inspiration to those who shared his love for this art. People who knew him were accustomed to his impeccable dress, style and grace. He embraced everyone and never looked at them as strangers, and always took the time and had the patience to discuss his art and share his work with great passion and excitement.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Robbie Ball McCloud; his father, Frankie B. Ball, Sr.; and his loving stepfather, Phillip L. McCloud.
He is survived by his wife, Marilyn Massey – Ball; an extended family of in-laws who loved him dearly, including mother-in-law Mary L. Massey, sisters-in-law Evelyn Massey – Robertson, Carmen Mickell and Cheryl Sellers; brothers-in-law Bennie Massey, III, and John L. Massey; several first cousins: Ella Ann Smith Saine; Flora Ware; Charles, Frank and Pleas Smith; and Barbara, Harold and Elliott Madison; a dear second cousin Meredith Lynn “Sweetie” McAphee; a host of other relatives; and many colleagues and friends.
Funeral Services were held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008 at the Eeds Funeral Home Chapel with the Reverend Jimmie Flakes officiating. Interment followed at the Lockhart City Cemetery.
All arrangements were with Eeds Funeral Home, 408 South Main, Lockhart, Texas 78644. (512) 398-2343.