Ledrew Luther Ballard
June 2, 1933 – October 25, 2018
Drew Luther Ballard, 85, passed away on October 25, 2018. Drew was born in Noble, LA on June 2, 1933 and moved to West Texas shortly thereafter with his mother and father, Coily and Luther Ballard. They were tenant farmers for Clyde Feaster and Joe Earnest in Mitchell County, Texas.
Drew graduated from Colorado City High School in 1950 and then attended college in Baytown, Texas before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1953. He was stationed in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma before being shipped to Germany as a unit in the 264th Field Artillery Division in Bad Crevzach, Germany. He was a Morse Code Radio Operator during his two years stationed there. Drew married Shirley Laverne Simpson of Colorado City in 1953. She joined him in Germany during his military service there. They had 3 children; Gary of Austin, Margie of Lubbock, and John of Arlington. Shirley passed away in March of 2002. After his Army discharge, Drew worked at KVMC the radio station for Colorado City. In 1956, Drew started the infamous “Draggin with Drew” radio show drawing more than 125 cards and letters a day from all over West Texas. Drew later moved to Georgetown, TX, where he managed the radio station. In 1962, Drew purchased his first radio station in Colorado City from Eldon Mahon. He later purchased radio stations in Lubbock, Lampasas, Boerne, Round Rock, and Big Spring, Texas plus two other stations in Oklahoma. He sold all his radio stations by 2003. Drew later married Camilla Bassham of Colorado City, and they traveled extensively in the Western United States, Canada, Yukon, and Alaska.
Drew was a staple to the Colorado City Community for many years and this article by Jim Baum in 2002 titled Draggin’ With Drew in his book “Rodeos, Romeos, and Radios” speaks perfectly about Drew and what he meant to his community. The Article reads “For teens growing up in Colorado City and Mitchell County during the mid 1950’s and early ‘60’s, no day was complete unless they were “Draggin’ with Drew”! Drew was (and still is) Drew Ballard who moved with his family to Colorado (City) in 1934 from Louisiana. As a youth Drew “always wanted to be a disc jockey” so when he reached his early teens, Ballard started hanging around KVMC Radio. “After five or six months they gave me a job, “ he told us in a 1981 interview. That job launched quite a broadcasting career for Ballard. By 1968 he owned the station! Later he and his wife Shirley, now deceased, owned stations in central Texas, Lubbock and Oklahoma. But, getting that first station, KVMC, was the big jump. “Eldon Mahon did me a favor. He gave me the opportunity to buy the station. I didn’t have any money, so he said we would work out the payment plan.” Through working long hours, getting help from his wife and by hiring good personnel, Ballard owned one of the best small town radio stations in Texas. One of the finest tributes to him came nineteen years after he sold KVMC. During a class reunion in Colorado City, June 10, 2000, former Colorado High students from 1956 to 1961, who had grown up “Draggin’ with Drew”, took over the airwaves at KVMC and presented their own version of his show, playing the music Ballard had played during his days as a disc jockey. The emcee that day for the show was Freddie Harrison who said “The most popular show on the air in our part of the world during the ‘50’s and 60’s was Draggin’ with Drew’. Drew played the music we loved to listen to and dedicated the songs we requested via penny postcards.” And, Harrison added, his generation listened to Ballard “faithfully driving innocently up and down the streets, draggin’ Main in the parlance of the time.” For two solid hours that afternoon, those solid citizens turned back time and were once again listening to Drew Ballard’s brand of music. During the time Ballard owned KVMC he managed to attract outstanding employees. Running the office and handling the billing was Virginia Dearen. Anchoring his air staff was the colorful “Cornfed” Fred Crawford. Fred was not only a DJ, but he wrote and recorded country music and even performed on the same program with Elvis Presley in 1953 on the Louisiana Hayride on KWKH, Shreveport. Crawford wound up in Colorado City when he started working as a disc jockey. “I was down here at my lake cabin one day and I met Drew Ballard and we worked out a deal, “ Crawford said. That “deal” lasted fourteen years, from 1978 until 1989 when “Cornfed” decided to retire from radio Another Drew Ballard recruit was Joy Culwell, who was the hostess on a KVMC weekday program. Soon after moving to Colorado City from Anson, Mrs. Culwell, who described herself as “a lady who likes to laugh and have a lot of fun” spoke to the Lions Club. Ballard was a member of the club and he approached her about doing a radio show on KVMC. She quickly agreed and named her hour long program “Joy to the World” “That’s what my pastor called me when I was a little girl,” she stated with a smile. Joy called her fifteen years on the air at KVMC the “most wonderful chapter of my life.” She said she never had trouble talking for an hour each day “because I was always excited about what God was going to do with that program that day.” The Ballard era at KVMC ended in 1981 when he sold the station to Jim Baum. Ballard had a beautiful philosophy on the years he spent owning KVMC. “When you’re doing something that you like, and don’t mind working eighteen hours a day because you love it, it turns out to be a service to the people. The combination to me is one of the most personally satisfying experiences I’ve ever had.” No history about KVMC would be complete without mentioning Porter Richardson. He retired a millionaire, but not because of the money he made working in radio. In 1993 Richardson won the 4 million dollar Texas Lottery. He told KVMC listeners, “It’s only money. Now I feel like I’ll be able to hire someone to dig the grass burrs out of my lawn. And, I’m thinking about buying a white Camaro.” He did both then died exactly 100 days after winning the lottery. As for Jim Baum, in May of 1983 he added an FM station (KAUM) to go with KVMC. He and his late wife Margaret, operated the stations along with their three sons Jim, Bill, and Doug. (Their daughter Laura also helped but not on the air.) The addition of KAUM enabled Mitchell County to have twenty-four hour broadcast services. (KVMC is licensed only for daytime broadcasting). At the 50th anniversary banquet of KVMC on August 4, 2000, emcee Bob Reily took note of KAUM’s around the clock programming. “How easy it is to take for granted that someone will be out there at the radio station on the air at 2 o’clock in the morning,” Reily noted, “tracking a local tornado. We assume it is our right to have up to date reports on deaths, births, birthdays, current events, civic meeting, school cancellations, and to find out if some event has been canceled.” Then Reily added, tongue-in-cheek, “We could ask for more accurate weather reports, but as Jim says, ‘I just serve it, I don’t cook it.’ But, “ Reily asked “where else could you get a weekly report on the road kill on east hill?’ Today Baum, his wife Linda and announcers Tim Lelek, Cathy Gieger, and John Martinez are on hand to entertain and inform the sixteen county area served by KVMC-KAUM. Colorado City’s radio stations have more than earned a secure place in Mitchell County’s history. Drew was preceded in death by grandson Dr. Corbin Shawn. He is survived by wife Camilla, daughter Margie Shawn (Stan) of Lubbock, sons Gary Ballard (Brenda) of Austin and John Ballard of Arlington, and grandchildren Dr. Megan Schuler (Joshua), Coily Ballard and Zane Ballard as well as several great grandchildren. He is also survived by loving blended family April Ferguson (Dale) and their family, Shelby, Jarrett, Chelsea and Neiman. A graveside service for Drew will be held on Monday, October 29th at 2 pm in the Colorado City Cemetery. The family will be present for a visitation from 12 to 2 pm on Monday at the Kiker Seale Funeral Home in Colorado City.
Those wishing may share a memory by visiting www.kikerseale.com
- Visitation Monday, October 29, 2018
- Graveside Service Monday, October 29, 2018
Ledrew Luther Ballard
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October 29, 2018
To the family I have so many memories with the Ballard family as John and I grew up friends. So much time spent at their home with Drew,Shirley,and John. I cherish our times together back in the day and I was always welcomed anytime because I was John’s friend. Prayers for the family and Blessings for the days ahead.
Linda and John Smith
October 28, 2018
Margie, Stan and family,
Just read your Dad’s beautiful obituary . He must have been a truly wonderful father. What a legacy with so many memories and friends who loved and respected him.
Loosing a parent seems to make us feel like little lost children...will be thinking of you with prayers. Luv, Linda and John
October 27, 2018
Gary, Margie, and Johnny,
I have many fond memories of Drew and the station. I'm sending my deepest condolences and sympathy to you three and all family and friends
October 26, 2018
So very sorry for your families loss. My mother and Drew were born on same day & year! They were classmates & friends. They always kept in touch through the years!
Gary, you & I were classmates & friends too! A small world we grew up in.
May God provide you all, strength & peace along this journey of loosing your dad & granddad.
Prayers for you all....