Above, Dr. Sam Ballou engaging in one of his favorite hobbies. He died this week at his home at the age of 77.
A former Corbin dentist and prominent local humanitarian and volunteer died overnight Monday at the age of 77.
Friends and family say Dr. Samuel David Ballou lived a quality life, and gave back to the community and the world much more than he ever received.
"He was my big brother, my best friend and fishing partner," said Ballou’s younger brother Dr. Robert Ballou, also a local dentist who is still in practice. "We did a lot of things together. We were very close. Not all brothers have that kind of relationship, but we did. We were really tight."
Ballou was one of four brothers born to Dempsey and Anna Ballou – three of whom went into the dentistry profession. Sam
Ballou was a 1958 graduate of the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and immediately went into practice in Corbin. He was respected among his peers and served as President of the Kentucky Dental Association from 1996-97. He was Secretary-Treasurer of the organization for 25 years. He quit officially practicing dentistry in 1998, but stayed very active in his church, local civic organizations sand by pursuing his interests.
Ballou was a long-time member of Central Baptist Church in Corbin, joining in 1958, and taught a Sunday School class there from 1960 until just before his death. He was also active on many of the church’s committees.
"He is one of the best men I’ve ever known. He was very, very faithful to God and his church," said one of Ballou’s best friends, Bill Evans, who served with him as a deacon at Central Baptist. "He was a very good Sunday School teacher who always presented the lesson well and drew out participation from the class members. He made it interesting. Everybody enjoyed Sam’s teaching."
Ballou took many mission trips abroad after leaving his dental practice. Friends say he was passionate about helping others whenever he could. He traveled to Russia, Brazil on eight occasions, Ecuador and Alaska. On many of the trips he would render dental services for free to those in need. He also made eight trips to parts of Louisiana, Florida and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina to assist residents along the storm-ravaged Gulf of Mexico as part of the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Team.
Ballou was a stalwart member of the Corbin Lions Club … practically a fixture in the organization and served as its President in the past along with other offices.
Ballou also served on the Whitley County Board of Health while a practicing dentist.
He was also a long-time member of the University of the Cumberlands Board of Trustees, serving on the board for roughly 40 years.
University of the Cumberlands President Jim Taylor said Ballou brought a perspective to the school that was valuable because he witnessed it grow from a small junior college into a respected and formidable institution.
"When he spoke, we listened," Taylor said. "He was always thoughtful and reflective. He was a great man."
Taylor said Ballou has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees and is the one who put the medal around his neck when he was named president of the school.
"We will always be indebted to him," Taylor said. "He was a great supporter of this university and he will be greatly missed."
Outside of his civic-mindedness, Ballou was most passionate about fishing. He was a charter member of the Bassin’ Baptists – a ministry at Central Baptist Church. Evans said he and Ballou would go on all-night fishing trips together often. Ballou was also fond of exercising and golf.
"He was a good fisherman," his brother Robert said, remembering their times together fondly. "He wasn’t as good as I was. We had discussions about that at times."
Robert Ballou said his brother "was a take charge person" who was opinionated, but also willing to listen to others – characteristics that made him a natural leader.
"I guess the term ‘a good man’ is overused, but I’ve heard more than a few people say that about him. I agree with it. I think he was a good man," Robert Ballou said. "I’m going to miss him. I think a lot of people will miss him."
Ballou is survived by his wife, Peggy, of 54 years, his three children: Paula Ballou, David Ballou and Dr. Susan Gibson. He also leaves behind three brothers: Dr. Robert Ballou, Donald Ballou and Dr. E.L. Ballou.
Services celebrating Ballou’s life will be held Saturday at Central Baptist Church. Visitation will be from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The funeral will begin at 3:00 p.m. He will be laid to rest in Highland Park Cemetery in Williamsburg following the funeral.