Lois ‘Ma’ Vawter Ball

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Lois “Ma” Vawter Ball was born in Topeka, Kan., on Sept. 11, 1926, the day of her mother’s 16th birthday and near the onset of the Great Depression. The family’s constant moving to create home in challenging circumstances spawned in Lois a lifelong gift for creating beauty wherever she lived, through family, art, music and writing.

Lois died in Glendale, Ariz., on Oct. 16, with her family at her side. She was 95.

Lois graduated from nursing school in Texas, where she was working when she met Perry Ball, a medical student, on her shift in a psychiatric ward. He questioned her count of meds, she bristled, and they resolved the conflict, to be married Dec. 19, 1947.

Perry established his medicine practice while Lois focused on raising “one beautiful daughter and three frisky sons.” Lois was gorgeous and between pregnancies and diapers, competed in local beauty contests. Lois and Perry moved to Durango in 1958 to practice medicine, cowboy and raise the family.

In Durango, Lois expanded her love of creating art. She read and took copious notes on the complete set of Great Books. She wrote a musical. She learned the piano. She experimented with watercolors and acrylics. 

Lois had a deep and “simple” faith in Jesus, which she embodied as pure love and hospitality. She became a spiritual mother to college-aged people, many of whom Lois and Perry invited to live in their home at 100 Mesa in Durango. Lois earned the name “Ma,” which everyone close subsequently called her. Lois and Perry took mission trips to Mexico and served several years as medical missionaries on multiple continents with Mercy Ships (YWAM).

Lois and Perry moved to Pagosa Springs in 1995.

Lois’s ability to make any space a home took on mythical proportions for her 11 grandkids, whose stories of Gramma range from sleepovers and hidden treats under pillows to never-forgotten birthdays, home-baked pies and unconditional love. 

Lois self-published three books, “Gramma’s House,” about her lifelong pursuit of home; “Tales of the East,” about a long RV trip; and “Pete and the Horsey Gang,” a children’s book, complete with her own illustrations, based on a true family story. Lois’s daily journals may be her greatest opus, chronicling decades of ordinary joys and trials with humor, honesty, compassion and faith.

Lois and Perry retired in Wickenburg, Ariz.

Lois was preceded in death by her mother, father, sister Dorothy Westmoreland, and daughter-in-law Cynthia Ball. She is survived by her husband, Perry; her daughter, Amy Malick (Larry); and sons Bill (Kate Errett), David and Joe Ball; and her beloved grandchildren Sara, Matt and Andy Wood, Hannah Mancini, Jesse Ball, Lindsay Errett-Cohen, Emma and Eddie Ball, Amberlyn Lake, Chelsilyn Shalamon, and Shandiyn Ball; 13 great-grandchildren; four nieces; three nephews; and her dog, Josie.

A family memorial celebration will take place at a later time. The family invites your thoughts, prayers, stories and photos on the Lois “Ma” Ball memorial Web page at: https://murial.life/lois-ball. Contributions can be made to Rancho Santa Marta, Bethesda Teaching Ministry, P.O. Box 20028, El Cajon, CA 92021-0900.