John F. Ball

April 26, 1930March 9, 2018

GREENWICH, Conn. – John F. Ball, 87, a retired television and film production executive, died at his home in Greenwich on Friday, March 9.

Mr. Ball was born in Winnetka, Ill., on April 26, 1930, to Edward and Kathleen Ball. He graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka in 1948, and earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., in 1952. Following his graduation, he served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Destroyer Force.

While a student at Princeton, he met his future wife Anne Firestone, granddaughter of tire industry pioneer Harvey S. Firestone, during spring break in Miami. They were married in 1957. Mrs. Ball died in 2013.

Following his Navy service, Mr. Ball joined the CBS Television network in New York City, where he became director of television special programming. He was credited with development of such classic television programs as Candid Camera, Sing Along with Mitch and The Man from Uncle.

Mr. Ball left CBS and joined the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in 1961, where he served as vice president of television programming and later as president of Thompson’s documentary television division Survival Anglia Ltd. At Survival, he collaborated for many years with British producer Aubrey Buxton on an extensive series of acclaimed wildlife documentaries. Their 1972 film The Incredible Flight of the Snow Geese won two Emmy awards for cinematography and film editing.

In 1985, he established John F. Ball Productions, Inc., which specialized in production of films and videos for Catholic and educational institutions.

Active in local, national and international Roman Catholic organizations, Mr. Ball was a long-time member of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Greenwich. Mr. Ball was a member of the Knights of St. Gregory the Great, Knights of the Holy Sepulcher and Knights of Malta. In 1992, he was elected a member of the American Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Mr. Ball received the Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Paul II in 2003. He and his late wife Anne were long-time supporters of Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, from which they received the prestigious Umilta Award in 2011.

Mr. Ball was an actor and songwriter. He began his musical career at New Trier High School, where he was a founder and director of the Lagniappe student musical-variety organization. He went on to write and perform in the Princeton Triangle Club, where he served as vice president. In 1952, he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, singing and dancing to his original music. Mr. Ball remained active in Triangle Club throughout his lifetime, as a trustee, chairman from 1970 through 1988, and chairman emeritus since 1995.

In addition to his parents and his wife, Mr. Ball was preceded in death by brothers Edward Ball and Rev. David Ball and sister Kathleen Ball Crane. He is survived by sons John F. Ball, Jr., of Chicago and David F. Ball (Lucy) of Darien, Conn., daughter Sheila Ball Burkert (Randall) of New York City and eight grandchildren.

Mr. Ball also had a home in Northport Point, Mich.

The family will receive friends on Thursday, March 22, from 4:30 until 7:00 p.m. at Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home, 31 Arch Street, Greenwich, Conn., 06830. The funeral service will be held on Friday, March 23, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Church, 469 North Street, Greenwich, Conn., 06830. There also will be a memorial service this summer at Atwill Memorial Chapel in Michigan.

Memorial contributions may be made to Family Centers of Greenwich, 40 Arch Street, Greenwich, Conn. 06830 or Leelanau Conservancy, 105 N. First Street, Leland, Mich. 49654.


  • Calling Hours Thursday, March 22, 2018
  • Mass of Christian Burial Friday, March 23, 2018

John F. Ball

have a memory or condolence to add?

Moira Twomey

March 26, 2018

Mr B. It was such a pleasure getting to know you and sharing special times. You were so kind to me and treated me as one of your own. My heart is hurting knowing we won’t be able to spend time together this summer, but you will always have a special place in my heart. I love you and miss you. I will raise a glass or two to you in Northport this summer. God Bless you

John Drake-Jennings

March 20, 2018

May John's soul and the souls of all the faithful departed in the mercy of God, rest in peace.

With deepest sympathy,

Sir John C. Drake-Jennings,
K.S.G., K.G.C.H.S., K.M.
Marquis de Monte Ferra