Reverend Lavern W. Ballard

July 27, 1927January 11, 2021

Reverend Lavern W. Ballard, age 93, of Kansas City, MO passed away on Monday, January 11, 2021. He will be laid to rest privately in Lake View Memorial Gardens in Fairview Heights, IL. Due to COVID-19 limitations, a Celebration of Lavern’s Life will be held later this year at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, 1600 Route 291, Liberty, MO 64068.

Lavern was born on July 27, 1927 in East St. Louis, IL to parents Cora (Mayberry) and Henry Ballard. He was in the Class of 1944, Eastside High School then enlisted in the United States Navy where he served his country from 1944 through 1946. He met the love of his life, Luella Dykstra, in 1945, while stationed in San Francisco. Lavern and Luella were married August 15, 1948, and lived life together for 72 years until his passing. Lavern’s formal education included a BA in English Journalism from McKendree College in 1950 and a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954. Lavern worked in Civil Service for the United States Air Force for 28 years. His notable accomplishments included establishing and implementing the policies of Equal Employment Opportunity for a major USAF command.

Lavern’s lifelong passion was leading people to Christ. The Lord used Lavern to share the Good News of Jesus to people in Taiwan, Indonesia, and Vietnam. He pastored churches in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, South Dakota, Montana, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. He was also Youth and Music pastor for churches in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Most recently he was active at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.

Some of Lavern’s favorite pastimes included decorating for Christmas and singing all types of music. Lavern is preceded in death by his parents; twin sister, Laverda; brothers, Otha and Daniel; and sisters, Lena and Edna.

He leaves behind his wife; son, William “Bill” (Marilyn) Ballard; daughter, Jan (Malcolm) English; eight grandchildren; 18 great grandchildren; brothers, John and Raymond; and sisters, Bernetha and Henrietta to cherish his memory.


  • Luella Ballard, Wife
  • William "Bill" (Marilyn) Ballard, Son
  • Jan (Malcolm) English, Daughter
  • John and Raymond, Brothers
  • Bernetha and Henrietta, Sisters
  • Eight grandchildren
    Eighteen great-grandchildren


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Reverend Lavern W. Ballard

have a memory or condolence to add?

Patricia Donahue

January 18, 2021

My deepest condolences to the Ballard family. My father, Bob Diehl, became friends with Vern while they were both living at McCrite. When my dad had to be moved to memory care in 2019 they continued to see each other and my parents attended Vern's Sunday service. On the day that my father passed away, Vern was with us in his room leading us in prayer around his bedside. He was also kind enough to speak at the graveside service at Floral Hills. I will never forget his compassion and kindness to our family, his wonderful smile and waving to him on his veranda when I parked at McCrite. May God give comfort to your family -
Patricia Donahue

Linda Shields

January 18, 2021

Oh Dearest Lu & Family, I am just hearing this news. My Uncle passed on the 11th also. Seems Heaven is getting pretty full these days! I will always remember Verns constant Smile & Energy & willingness to teach others about our Saviour! May God Bless each of you in a mighty way.
Love & Respect,
Linda Shields
former Driver

Ruth Sublett

January 18, 2021

I was blessed to be part of the youth group at Unity Roselawn (now First Baptist Church in Fairview Heights) while Rev Vern was youth director. He touched so many lives with his wonderful sense of humor, love of life and devotion to the youth of the church. He always wore a smile (sometimes mischievous smile), but he also knew how to be serious when it came to sharing his faith. He was also a great friend to my parents in their younger days (Jack and Dortha Denham) and I will always remember that he traveled back to Fairview Heights with Luella to minister my dad's funeral in 2010. Just his presence brought comfort to our family. Thank you Luella, Bill and Jan for sharing him through the years. My condolences to you and your families.

Linda Amos

January 17, 2021

I met Vern when I was 15 years old and started attending First Baptist Church in Fairview Heights, IL. Some of my happiest memories were made with the youth group he led.

Vern was an encourager; he once told me I had leadership ability. He helped instill self confidence in me and I will always be grateful to him.

Bill Choat

January 17, 2021

I have many fond memories with Vern Ballard while he was youth minister at Unity Roselawn Baptist Church (now First Baptist Church) in Fairview Heights, IL. He was always supportive and a positive influence. There are so many individual memories floating through my mind right now: times to laugh, times to cry, times to sing, and times to learn. I especially enjoyed Sunday night fellowships held after the evening service. Whether he was the head of a devotion, the leader of a song, or the target of a joke (moving his Volkswagon from its parking spot for example), Vern was always a devoted leader of our youth group.

Rick Schwartz

January 16, 2021

In 1971 Vern was the youth pastor at a relatively conservative, large Southern Baptist church just outside St. Louis. Yet, he allowed (and encouraged) the youth group to take over a house on the church property and turn it into a "happening" coffeehouse for the teens, complete with drums and electric guitars. It was completely teen directed, with the group running the whole show. He defended us against those who thought we were turning the church into a Devil's Den, and for several years it became a beacon in the community for teens looking for something they knew was missing in their life. Many accepted Christ during that time, and in and around the coffeehouse. That ministry is still going on in the lives of hundreds of those who spent many a Friday/Saturday night grooving to the sounds of the beginning Jesus Music songs, and the preaching of the Gospel by their peers. And all because Vern was willing to take the Gospel that he loved and let others apply it in a way that made sense to them. Thank you, Vern.

Chris Piquard

January 16, 2021

After I was discharged from the Army, in 1980, I was looking for a job in law enforcement. Uncle Vern was able to secure a spot for me to test for the Border Patrol at Scott Airforce Base. He and Aunt Lou invited me to spend the night with them the day before my test.
I arrived earlier in the day and we visited until bed time. Sometime in the middle of the night, I heard the house phone ring and Uncle Vern answered it. Apparently one of the members of his church had been admitted to the hospital so Uncle Vern, as their pastor, went to be with them in their time of need. Getting home later that morning but still early, he got ready and went to work at the Air base.
I always thought his dedication to his church and his job were exceptional. He was definitely an exceptional man.

Alice Anderson McKinzey

January 15, 2021

My deepest condolences. I will never forget Rev Ballard. He baptized me. Thank you for giving to the Lord. I know he received a “well done thy good and faithful servant” Now go rest high on the mountain for your work on earth is done. I know I will see you again. May God give peace to you Mrs Ballard and Jan and Bill and all the family.



Vern prepared this devotional to share with the folks in the memory and skilled nursing care facility at McCrite Plaza (building 1301). He was not able to share it with them through his weekly Bible study due to the 2020 Covid 19 outbreak. Evidently, The Lord still wanted Vern to communicate this message to those in McCrite 1301 because he and Lu were placed in that facility in November, 2020, where they daily testified to the truths he penned.

“Have you ever noticed how many times things have changed throughout your life? Throughout my life I have one word that I try to live by, “FLEXIBILITY”. Life is constantly changing. It would be great if we could plan just one day at a time and know that the day we planned would have no changes but that is not the norm. We know that each day we never know what each day will bring.
I give each day to Jesus who is true love, joy, and peace and in Him is everlasting life. Just like the wonderful old hymn says, “This world is not my home I’m just a passing through my treasures are layed up somewhere beyond the blue”, Yes, in Jesus we have everlasting life.
My life was totally changed when I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior at the age of nine. Yes, Jesus has given us the ability to be flexible and as each day of our life passes by He gives us all the attributes of Christ.
Each morning when we wake up let’s start our day by praying to Jesus and thanking Him that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I pray you will have a blessed day. Vern Ballard”