Ball remembered for his efforts on the water, in community
Schooner racers on the South Shore are mourning the loss of Captain Claude Ball, who died this week at 77.
The captain, who founded the Cornwallis Cup competition, was a devoted racer and one of their own.
At the same time, volunteers from various charities were writing letters about Ball to his daughters, and so were people from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and other organizations across the province.
Ball, who was harbourmaster of Halifax from 1984 to 1989, worked for so many disparate causes that his family and former colleagues say they barely knew the extent of all he accomplished.
The captain, who died early Wednesday in Halifax, was president of the Halifax Rotary Club and was deeply involved with Pier 21 and the Maritime Museum.
He was once the driving force behind the Theodore Tugboat safety campaign, raising money to keep Theodore in Halifax.
Ball was also a volunteer for the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society. He was nominated for the Order of Nova Scotia.
“He just got up every morning at the crack of dawn and went out to help other people,” said his daughter, Joanne Ball.
She said she has been shocked by the number of emails and letters she’s received this week.
When John Hennigar-Shuh was hired as general manager at the Maritime Museum in 2003, it didn’t take long for Ball to find him, he said.
“I soon discovered that Claude Ball was involved across so many dimensions of the shipping industry, the life of the port he knew everybody in the port, and I guess what stood out for me was his incredible generosity,” Hennigar-Shuh said.
He said Ball gave him a crash course in maritime life and later raised many funds for museum projects.
“He was generous with his time, he was generous with sharing what he knew, he was generous with his introductions to friends,” Hennigar-Shuh said.
“He was just a wonderful, warm, kind person, and he knew a huge amount.”
Ball left his home in Rencontre, N.L., at about 16 and soon became a very young Master Mariner.
After working for the coast guard, he later studied administration and was hired as Halifax harbourmaster, then went on to be a senior manager at the Port of Halifax.
Ball maintained a captain-like stubbornness, but he shared his love of the water with everyone around him, said his great-niece, Sarah Ball, who was with him in 2000 when the family was victorious at Chester Race Week.
“He could get along with anyone, and just coming from the captain’s side of things, he could take charge in any situation,” the 25-year-old said. “Being around him, watching him, just his knowledge on the schooner, was something that never left me.”
Ball may not have bragged about all his accomplishments, but kids’ water safety was one cause the captain brought home with him, his great-niece said.
“You eventually got to the point where (you said) ‘I’m old enough now, Uncle Claude, I don’t need to wear a life-jacket anymore!’” she said with a laugh.