Samuel Eason Balch
September 5, 1919 – April 14, 2018
BALCH, Samuel Eason age 98 of Birmingham, AL, died peacefully at home on April 14, 2018. Eason was a bold and audacious lover of life who never met a stranger or forgot a friend. He loved to entertain friends and family with vivid, detailed stories about his experiences and family heritage, and always had a ready rhyme or song for his grandchildren. He enjoyed playing golf, reading, and discussing politics and the law. He was born on September 5, 1919 in Madison, Alabama (pop 500). He was fourth of five children of Clara (Clara Irene Vaughn Balch) and Joe Balch (Joseph Austin Balch). His industrious spirit blossomed early milking cows, tending chickens and helping with other domestic chores at home. Soon, he was “jerking soda” at the local drug store and delivering prescriptions, dry cleaning and newspapers all over town. When not working, he attended Madison High School where he graduated as valedictorian in 1936. With his savings and a stipend from his Aunt Emma, Eason entered the University of Alabama School of Commerce in the fall of 1936. There, he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, active with the Corolla, and a fixture in the campus social and political scene. In 1941, armed with a B.S. in business, the 111-pound Eason showed up for duty in the U. S. Army where he was deemed “too skinny” for officer’s training. His work ethic and fast pace on the obstacle course quickly overcame the weight restriction, and he entered the Officers’ Training Corps and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. While at OTC in Virginia, Eason met the love of his life, Elizabeth Gordon “Betsy” Brock of Richmond, Va. After graduating from OTC, he was assigned to help organize and train ordinance units operating in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia. During this time, he also managed to continue his courtship of Betsy. In spring 1943, Eason and Betsy were married. Soon after his marriage, he was transferred to Fort Pickett, Va., promoted to captain, and shipped out to La Havre, France. In Europe, Eason commanded an ordinance company charged with maintaining small arms and vehicles for advancing US troops. Shortly thereafter, his unit was assigned to repair and operate the abandoned Daimler-Benz truck factory located in Mannheim, Germany. After several months in Mannheim, his unit was ordered to the Pacific Theater. His transport ship sailed through the Panama Canal and was a few days from the Philippines when WWII ended. Eason ended his service in the Army as a major. After the war, Eason enrolled in the University of Virginia School of Law, graduating in 1948. Unable to find a job in Richmond to support his growing family, Eason and Betsy moved to Birmingham where he became the 11th lawyer hired to join Logan Martin’s law firm, Martin, Turner and McWhorter, which today is known as Balch & Bingham. Over the next 40 years, Eason played a primary role in the development and growth of the firm, leading it as managing partner from 1962 until 1988. He led the firm’s expansion during a period of tremendous growth, and along the way was a valued advisor to many young lawyers and the firm well into his retirement years. He was for many years a national presence in the public utility bar, leading committees within the Edison Electric Institute and the public utility sections of the ABA, and serving on the board of directors of the Alabama Power Company for 20 years. He was a member of the Cathedral Church of the Advent for 70 years. Eason was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 63 years, Betsy; by his son, Robert Brock Balch; by his parents; his brothers Joseph and William; and his sister Frances. He is survived by his sister: Elizabeth “Beth” Balch Benckart of Pittsburgh; his children: son Samuel Eason Balch Jr. and his wife, Margaret Cloud Balch; daughter Gordon Balch Lanier and her husband, James Gibson Lanier Jr.; daughter Gene Balch Limbaugh and her husband, Joseph Tyler Limbaugh Jr.; and daughter Ann Balch Miano and her husband, Bert Joseph Miano; his grandchildren: James Gibson Lanier III (wife Nat), Samuel Eason Balch III (wife Elizabeth), Elizabeth “Betsy” Lanier Miller (husband Brad), Margaret “Peggy” Wood Balch, Joseph Tyler Limbaugh III (wife Meaghan), Gene Limbaugh Webb (husband Van), Elizabeth “Libba” Warwick Miano, Samuel Joseph Miano, and Lena Tramonte Miano; his great grandchildren: Daniel Lanier, Andrew Lanier, Samuel Balch, Gisele Balch, Ellie Miller, Mamie Miller, Mary Eason Limbaugh, Jack Limbaugh, Joey Limbaugh, Carolyn Limbaugh, Jude Limbaugh, Grayson Webb, and GiGi Webb; and several nieces, nephews and cousins. Eason was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He loved life and people, will be missed by many, and will forever be – Jam up, Jelly tight and Sittin’ on Ready! The family expresses deep appreciation to Allison Hines, Norma Williams, Renee Myrick and Cheryl Cooper for their kindness in caring for Eason. A memorial service will be held Friday, April 20th at 2:00 p.m. at The Cathedral Church of the Advent. The family will receive friends immediately following the memorial service in the church's fellowship hall. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Cathedral Church of the Advent, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation of Alabama, and Alzheimer's of Central Alabama.
- Memorial Service Friday, April 20, 2018