Franklin's Story

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Services to honor and remember the life of Lemuel Franklin “Lem” Ball, Jr. will be 10 a.m. on Friday, March 4, 2016, at the First Baptist Church of Claremore. Interment will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery. Viewing will be at Rice Funeral Service, Thursday from 1-7 p.m., with family receiving friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Lem passed away Sunday, February 28, 2016, at home. He was 91. Lemuel Franklin Ball, Jr. was born July 12, 1924, on the family farm in LeFlore County, Oklahoma. He was born the sixth child of Lemuel Franklin “Dole” Ball, Sr. and Bertha Mabel (Sheppard) Ball. In the fall of 1925, the family moved near McAlester where Lem was raised. He received his elementary education at Frink Schools and was a graduate of McAlester High School in 1941. Lem was sixteen years of age, upon graduation, and hadn’t quite reached his eventual height of 6’2” which he joked would have helped his high school athletic activities. Following high school, he joined the U.S. Army. During World War II, Lem served overseas in the First Calvary Division of the Army. Upon his return from service, in 1946, he enrolled in Oklahoma A&M College where he completed a Bachelor’s in Agriculture. After working a few years, he returned to the same college with an updated name, OSU, and completed his Master’s in Agriculture.­­ On August 19, 1950, Lem and Margie Lou Priegel were married in her parents’ home in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. They welcomed a daughter, Virginia Ann, on May 25, 1952 and son, James Allen, on February 19, 1954. Following college, he worked in seed stores in Enid and Oklahoma City. In the fall of 1951, he transferred to a teaching job in the Agronomy Department at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, Okla. He then worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Okmulgee, Durant, and Nowata before being transferred to the Bureau of Reclamation in Boise, Idaho where he mapped soils in the semi-arid west. He then had an opportunity to work for the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), which is what he wanted to do all along. As a career employee of the SCS, Lem worked in many places including Okemah, Poteau, Claremore, and Okmulgee, retiring in 1980. 15 moves during a 30 year working career, Lem and Margie always found a niche they could fill in a local Baptist church. Through the years, Lem even served as Secretary, Vice-President, and President of the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Society and served several terms on the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Historical Society. In 1984, Lem and Margie returned to Claremore where they could help in the spoiling of their granddaughters. It was during this time that Lem also enjoyed researching, interviewing, and writing historical accounts of his ancestry and church history. An outdoorsman from his youth, some of Lem’s most pleasant times were spent in the hills and pine woods of LeFlore County. His work on the land allowed him to carry his lunch and spend the day with various land owners or work crews in the deep woods. His experience and education gave him vast knowledge of plants and wildlife in Eastern Oklahoma. An avid photographer, he left a well-documented pictorial record of his work locations and the beautiful scenery of Eastern Oklahoma. Lem is survived by his son-in-law, Rex Fry of Claremore; his granddaughters, Lesley Thomas and husband, Nathan of Claremore; Lisa Sixkiller and husband, Bryan of Alaska; and Tana Ream and husband, Mike of New Hampshire. In addition, he is survived by great-grandchildren Thorne and Christabel Thomas, Gregor and Mason Sixkiller, and Brayden and Tyler Ream. He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings; wife, Margie Lou (Priegel) Ball; and children James Ball and Virginia Ann (Ball) Fry.
Published on  March 2, 2016
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