Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Spotlight on: Vera V. Mark Ballard

Vera Victoria Mark Ballard 

27 Jul 1905 OH - 8 Jun 1995 FL

Daughter of Thomas K. Mark & N. Regina Gruissy

Wife of Robert E. Ballard

Sister of my paternal grandmother, Ivy Mark Brown

My great aunt

Vera was the second child of Thomas and Regina Mark.[1]In 1920 their family was living on 

Prospect Street in Seville, Ohio.  Vera was just 14 at the time and attending school.[2]

On 26 May 1933 Vera Mark married Robert E. Ballard.[3]  According to Vera’s nephew, Delbert K. Brown, Robert Ballard was a millionaire at one time.  He lost his money in the stock market crash of 1929. In later years, he had a concession stand at Chippewa Lake, Ohio.  He ran speed boats at the Resort.  He took his nephew, Del, all around the lake for free.  Delbert was 9 or 10 years old at the time.[4]

            Robert and Vera (Mark) Ballard had one child, Vera E. (Ballard) Bowling, who was born 30 May 1940 in Wadsworth, Ohio. Their daughter was often called ‘Little Vera’ to differentiate her from her mother.  Vera married Butch Bowling.[5],[6]

            Vera and Robert moved from Seville, Ohio to Tennessee. According to her sister, Wava (Mark) Braun, there was a big sand storm in Tennessee. They packed up overnight and moved to Florida.[7]

            Vera was a registered nurse.  At one time she lived on 4th Avenue North, St. Petersburg.

            A 1987 Florida newspaper article tells us about Vera and her career as a nurse: 


“Lakeland – Vera Ballard was mending a coat for one of Watson Clinic’s employees when clinic manager Tom Blinn came to pick her up for a retirement party in her honor. She kept him waiting until she finished. That incident tells a lot about the 82 – year – old registered nurse, who retired this week after 60 years in nursing. Forty – two were with the clinic. She belongs to the traditional school of nurses who wore their white caps proudly, went on house calls (with or without doctors) at all hours and were taught to put their calling before personal pleasure.

‘She’s a very efficient person, very dedicated, and very interested in doing the right thing,’ says Bob Hockman, director of facilities and materials for Watson Clinic. But she won’t tolerate swearing. Ballard got another nurse to replace her when a doctor at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital swore during surgery.  When a Watson Clinic physician used bad language during an operation, she started pulling off her gloves.  The doctor stopped swearing and kept his language clean in her presence from then on.

‘I don’t mind working overtime, but I do demand a little respect, ’Ballard said Thursday during an interview at the clinic.  Her co-workers provide both respect and affection. The purchasing department has given her birthday dinners for three years.  A nursing seminar will be named after her. ‘This is like family to me. I’ve been here so long,’ she said. ‘It’s marvelous working in a place where you can talk to people and they’ll talk to you, not just give orders.’

The admiration goes beyond her workplace.  Ballard is among 73 semifinalists in a state program to recognize older workers.  It’s sponsored by the Department of Labor and Employment Security and private corporations. Lakeland was a ‘little country town’ when Ballard, her husband Robley and daughter Vera Elizabeth arrived in the mid – 1940s.

Ballard, a graduate of the second section of Henry Ford Hospital’s first nursing class, had early experience in the hospital and in a rural area of Ohio. When her husband’s illness necessitated a move to Florida, she wanted to work for a registered diagnostic clinic.  The American Medical Association told her that Watson was the only one nearby.  ‘When I went in to find six doctors, I was flabbergasted,’ she recalls.  She accepted a job with Dr. W. P. Logan and Dr. Herman Watson.  They made house calls in the morning and again at night.  Ballard still makes them, to give several older patients their shots.

In addition to standard health checks, the doctors and their nurse were responsible for electrocardiograms.  The EKG machine came with a 50 – pound battery that had to be carried to homes and the hospital. Watson Clinic was in the Marble Arcade when Ballard began work there on June 1, 1946.  The clinic moved into an annex of the Thelma Hotel across the street a few years later, and then to its current location on Lakeland Hills Boulevard, Ballard said. Now there are more than 100 doctors, satellite clinics and plans for more growth. Those numbers don’t faze her, Ballard said, because the hospital where she trained had 250 doctors.

Ballard has been responsible since the early 1960s for linens, some sewing, magazine subscriptions, housekeeping of the lobbies and other chores that make the clinic run smoothly.  She preserves numerous photo albums, which she began filling more that 30 years ago, that show the clinic’s history.[8]



    Vera (Mark) Ballard died in on 8 June 1995 in Tampa, Florida where she had been in a nursing home for a long time.  She was 89 years old.  She is buried in Florida.[9]

[1]Record of Birth for Vera Victoria Mark, 27 July 1905, Probate Court for Medina County, Ohio. 

[2]1920 U. S. Census, Medina County, Ohio; Volume 147, ED 67, Sheet 5, Line 37, Family History Center Microfilm # 1821417: Thomas K. Mark, Head of Household.

[3]Marriage Certificate for Vera Mark and Robert E. Ballard, 26 May 1933, Certificate # 40, Medina County Probate Court, Medina, Ohio.

[4]“Interviews with Delbert K. Brown.”

[5]“Interviews with Wava Mark Braun”.

[6]“Interviews with Harold Jay Nee.”

[7]“Interviews with Wava Mark Braun”.

[8]The Ledger (Florida) c. 1987, newspaper clipping, photocopy in possession of Colleen G. Brown Pasquale.  “Registered Nurse. Vera Ballard proud of her profession, puts calling before pleasure.”

[9]Certificate of Death for Vera V. Ballard, 8 June 1995, Certificate #69832, State of Florida, Office of Vital Statistics, Florida.

The above story of Vera was taken from my book,

The Mark Family Story.


  1. Such a great article about a very special person. I know you are beaming with admiration for a very special Great Aunt and her achievements. 

  2. Vera sounds like a really special lady. And such a dedicated nurse!

  3. Thanks for your kind comments. I wish I had know my aunt better.


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