Ronald D. Balsley, 82, of Danville, passed away peacefully on Dec. 28, 2012, at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System.
Ron was born in Danville on Sept. 25, 1930, to Merle H. and Lola A. Balsley. After graduating from Danville High School, he served four years with the Air Force including a 15-month tour of duty in Korea, attaining the rank of staff sergeant. During his military service, Ron married his high school sweetheart of 61 years, Katie Ann Harper on Nov. 6, 1951.
After the war, Ron joined his father’s business, Merle H. Balsley and Son Heating/Cooling and Sheet Metal, later becoming owner until his retirement.
Ron was actively involved serving several Danville area city and county community organizations. In 1975, he joined the Danville Civic Center (later named David S. Palmer Arena) as a board member, and served as chairman from 1978-1983, overseeing the construction of the center through its Grand Opening in 1980. In 1994, for his 18 years of dedication and service, Ron was recognized by the David S. Palmer Board of Directors as one of its Founding Fathers.
Ron served as North Fork District Chairman for the Boy Scouts of America from 1969-1971, and later served as Piankeshaw Council President from 1982-1983. In 1977, he was honored by the BSA and received the distinguished Silver Beaver award for his dedicated service to youth.
Ron also volunteered over a decade of his life to coach little league baseball at Producer’s Park in Danville winning three city championship titles along the way.
Other community organizations Ron actively participated in included the Danville Jaycees, the Vermilion County Museum Society, the Vermilion County Emergency and Disasters Agency and the Masons. He was a member of the Democratic Party where he ran for state representative in 1963.
Ron especially enjoyed spending long weekend getaways at Kentucky Dam Lake with his wife, watching Cubs or White Sox baseball (depending on which of the two was having a better season), da’ Bulls, da’ Bears, Illini football and basketball, and any John Wayne movie. One of his passions was playing golf, where he cultivated many relationships with family and friends. His most memorable golfing moment came on July 4, 1983, when he experienced the joy of scoring a hole-in-one at Harrison Park on the par three sixth hole.
Ron was predeceased by his parents, three sisters and two brothers. He is survived by his wife Katie and his five children, Kevin D. (Lauren) Balsley of Richardson, Texas, Gregory K. (Sara) Balsley of Missouri City, Texas, Susan D. (Dave) Daniels of Atlanta, Ga., Julie K. (George ‘Mic’) Gehring of Dallas, Texas, and Philip H. (Gisela) Balsley of Fort Worth, Texas. He is also survived by five grandsons; four granddaughters; several great grandchildren; brother-in-law, Herb Harper of Danville; special niece, Becky (Bill) Siddens of Danville; as well as several other close nieces and nephews.
The family is extremely grateful for the kindness and care given by the staff and doctors at the VA Illiana Health Care System and the Hawthorne Inn of Danville.
Per Ron’s wishes, cremation will be at Sunset Funeral Home. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. The family requests that anyone who wishes to make a memorial contribution in Ron’s name that it be made to the Boy Scouts of America, the Vermilion County Museum Society or a charitable organization of the donor’s choice.
Throughout his life he was known for his warm and touching sense of humor that connected with countless many, which he held onto and took all the way to the end.
Condolences may be left online at www.sunsetfuneralhome.com.