Thompson, Conn — Clarence Clinton Ballard, 98, passed away at his home on Oct. 15. Born on Nov. 8, 1923 in the family farmhouse on Ballard Road in Thompson, he was the third of four children born to Winthrop B. and Rhoda Thatcher Ballard.
Clarence was baptized at the Putnam Baptist Church. He served the Thompson Congregational Church as lifetime Baptist Deacon. He was the treasurer of the TCC for 35 years and treasurer of the Central Baptist Society for more than 45 years. Clarence served as resident volunteer carpenter for both the TCC and the East Thompson Baptist (Brandy Hill) Church buildings and loved contributing to the historical preservation of those structures.
Clarence’s engagement in civic affairs included decades of volunteer service with the Thompson Hill Fire Engine Company, the Senexet Grange, the West Thompson Cemetery Association, the Tourtellotte Cemetery in Wilsonville and the auxiliary of the National League of Postmasters.
Clarence had a commanding knowledge of the local flora and fauna; there was not a tree, leaf, flower, animal track or bird call he could not identify. Growing up, Clarence enjoyed hunting with his father and became quite the good shot. Clarence valued education and was Salutatorian of his graduating class from Tourtellotte High School. A lifelong learner, he was an avid and voracious reader. He read the newspaper daily and paid close attention to domestic and world affairs.
Clarence’s family operated a dairy farm for many years before Route 52, now Interstate 395, cut the family farm in half. He then became a finish carpenter, a career which utilized his love of math and geometry as well as his extreme attention to detail. Clarence carefully refurbished antique homes while also building new ones including three homes built for his family; all three remain a living legacy of his love and generosity of spirit.
In 1968, Clarence married Georgia Mary Coolidge and together they had 54 wonderful years of marriage filled with joy. They met while singing in the choir at the Thompson Congregational Church (TCC). Some of Clarence’s fondest memories came from 1969 when they took their Scotty “with a potty” trailer and traveled for a month across the United States visiting numerous National Parks.
Clarence loved hiking and backpacking in the mountains and with his close friend, the Rev. Jeff Larsen, he climbed all 67 mountains 4,000 feet and higher in New England. Clarence was inducted into the New England 4000-footers Club of the Appalachian Mountain Club in 2007 at the age of 84. Clarence continued hiking into his 90s. Baxter State Park was one of his most beloved places.
Clarence played the part of the Deputy Sheriff in the 1959 movie “Man in the Net” which was filmed partly in Thompson at his parents’ farm on Ballard Road. The movie starred Alan Ladd and Carolyn Jones.
Clarence dedicated his life to the outdoors. He took great pride in working in the woods well into his mid-90s to maintain the land he loved so dearly. Each fall he cut fallen limbs and trees into four foot lengths and stacked them into cords to supply firewood for his family in a tradition that became known as “The East Coast Brush Cutting Event.”
“Pop” was kind, loving and possessed a quiet, unwavering strength. He took great care to be thoughtful in every decision he made and with each response he gave. He believed in doing a job well and it was the greatest honor when he complimented the work of others. He was a wonderful storyteller of days gone by, a thoughtful listener and always modeled a respectful demeanor. Clarence was inclusive to all throughout his lifetime; he welcomed all and loved bringing others along.
Clarence is survived by his wife, Georgia; daughter, Pam; granddaughters Tacey Gaudette, SaraBeth Ross, Katielyn Ross (Randy Adams); great grandchildren Triston and Delila Gaudette; nephew Ralph Ballard and nieces Joan Bradley, Candace Ballard and Barbara Torok.
As parting words, instead of saying, “Goodbye” Clarence joyfully exclaimed, “Happy Trails!”
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 1:30p.m. at the East Thompson Baptist Church on Brandy Hill (642 Thompson Rd, Thompson, CT) with the Rev. Jeff Larsen officiating. Masks are required – N95 and KN95 provided at the door.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Thompson Congregational Church’s building fund to help support their active efforts to repair the building which sustained a devastating fire in 2016. Alternatively, gifts may also be sent to TCC to help preserve the Brandy Hill Church building. Please specify either “building fund” or “Brandy Hill” in the memo line of your check and mail your gift to:
PO Box 308, Thompson, CT 06277.
Memories of Clarence and messages of condolence may be sent to Georgia Ballard, 84 Robbins Road, Thompson, CT 06277 or for memorial guestbook visitwww.GilmanAndValade.com
Happy Trails, Clarence.