A memorial service was held Friday (June 24) for Vera (Johnson) Ballard, assistant director of the Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology, whodied of cancer on June 17 at the age of 42.
More than 500 persons filled the MIT Chapel and overflowed onto the adjacent lawn. Others listened to the service in Kresge Auditorium.
Speakers at the service, whose theme was "A Celebration of Life," included Cambridge Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves and Cambridge YMCA President Richard A. Foot. Ms. Ballard lived in Cambridge and was active both in the community and the YMCA. MIT speakers included Joan F. Rice, vice president for human resources; Ramona B. Allen, personnel officer; Evelyn L. Perez, assistant dean of the School of Science, and Kenneth A. Smith, professor of chemical engineering. Officiating was Geoffrey Black, pastor of the Congregational Church of South Hempstead, United Church of Christ.
Ms. Ballard began her career at MIT in 1978 in the Personnel Office, where she worked as a personnel officer and administrator. She became administrative officer at Whitaker College in 1983 and assistant director in 1987.
She was a member of the MIT Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, the MIT Medical Department Consumer Council, and the National Council of University Research Administrators. In 1984, she received recognition of her contributions to the Institute through a Black Achievers Award.
Ms. Ballard was a member of the Cambridge YMCA's board of trustees and several of its committees. She was a recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award in 1992. She also served on a variety of committees and interest groups for the City of Cambridge.
Ms. Ballard became interested in fitness and weight training about five years ago and in 1993, she became a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise, the International Association of Fitness Professionals, the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the Fitness Resource Association. She established her own business, Balanced Fitness, and designed customized fitness programs for people over 40.
Ms. Ballard was born in Roxbury and graduated from Brown University in 1973. In addition to her bachelor's degree, she successfully completed requirements for medical school enrollment at Allegheny Community College. She also received a certificate of special study in administration and management from the Harvard University Extension School.
She leaves her husband, Charles; her mother, Helen Wade Johnson of Boston; a sister, Alyce Johnson of Newton; a brother and sister-in-law, Henry and Naja Johnson of Los Angeles, and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
A memorial fund has been established at MIT. It is an expendable fund to be used in a research project in the life sciences with particular applicability to the health needs of people of color. Donations made be sent to the Vera Ballard Memorial Fund, c/o MIT Treasurer's Office, 238 Main Street, Room 200, Cambridge, MA. 02142.
A version of this article appeared in the June 29, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 37).