Robert Ball


April 24, 1930 – March 4, 2013

Robert (Bob) Ball passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday, March 4, 2013. He was born on April 24, 1930, in Sacramento to Walter and Mary Ball. He attended McClatchy High School in Sacramento, received an AA degree from Sacramento Junior College, and a BS degree in agronomy at UC Davis. In 1951, he served in the U.S. Air Force in French Morocco. He married Joan Pesavento in 1953 and they settled in Davis, where they raised six children together.

Bob was well known locally, nationally and even internationally for his work on seed certification and agriculture. He served the University of California since 1956 where he began as a staff research associate. He ultimately became the manager of the California Crop Improvement Association (CCIA) and assistant director of Foundation Seed and Plant Materials Service. As manager of CCIA, he worked with seedsmen, seed dealers, agricultural commissioners and county farm advisers. He was often called upon to train and give talks to university groups and seed technologists, and he was a guest lecturer to students in vegetable crops and agronomy.

Bob played a major role in developing plans for the construction of a much-needed new Seed Research Center at UC Davis; the building represented one of the few examples of cooperation between the private sector and the university. Bob was the recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award from the university in 1985; he was recognized for his extraordinary service to the university and to the public. He also served on many committees in the community, including the East Davis Fire District and the Willowbank Club.

Bob loved the outdoors, and particularly loved to camp and fish. He and his family spent several summer vacations camping at Lake Tahoe and in the last few years, he spent time at Donner Lake where he was able to fish even as he became more frail. He loved to garden, and he shared bountiful produce with family and friends each summer. He and Joan were great supporters of the arts and enjoyed attending concerts of all kinds at Mondavi Center and other venues in the region. He loved family gatherings, and the house was always full of music, laughter, joy and love.

Bob was preceded in death by his wife (Joan), by his parents, and by his brother, Jim Ball. He is survived by his sister Patty Smith, his children Jan (Dave), Lorrie (Steve), Dan (Paula), Mary Ann (Jeff), Katie (John) and Bill (Stacey), and 11 grandchildren. There will be no memorial or funeral service, at Bob’s request. Donations may be made in his name to Sutter Transplant and Advanced Heart Therapy Services.

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