Dr. Charles Jaudon Ball (Charlie) passed away on February 20, 2013 in his home in Short Hills, New Jersey at the age of 76 from complications due to myasthenia gravis. He was preceded in death by his wife Eleanor Halpern Ball (Ellie) on March 4, 2012. Charlie was born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1936, the only child of Dorothy Jurges and Curtis Ball. He grew up in California and then Virginia until his family moved to Santa Barbara, California in his early teens, where he excelled in school and played the French horn in orchestra under the baton of Henry Brubeck at Santa Barbara High School.
Charlie attended Harvard College from 1955 to 1958, graduating with a B.A. in Astronomy. He started medical school at New York University (NYU) in 1958. On the first day of classes he met Ellie, a fellow student, when they were assigned as cadaver partners. They married in 1961 and were happy all of their life together. Sons Thomas and Julian were born in 1965 and 1967, respectively, while Charlie was a resident in Ophthalmology at NYU Bellevue Medical Center. During this time, he also was a training fellow at the NIH and published “Retinal Arteriolar Collaterals in Man” in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. After completing his residency, Charlie was called by the “doctor draft” and served for two years as a captain in the US Air Force (USAF) during the Vietnam War, stationed in bases in Langley, Virginia, and Thailand (11th USAF Hospital APO S.F. 96330) where his family joined him, living in a village nearby.
Returning from Asia with his family in 1969, Charlie joined the Short Hills Ophthalmology Group in Milburn, New Jersey, where he practiced until his retirement in 2001. He was among the first in his field to embrace modern cataract surgery, and was among the first surgeons in NJ to use bifocal intraocular implants. Charlie was on staff at Overlook Hospital and Saint Barnabas Medical Center and was very active in medical societies, including Alpha Omega Alpha (1961), the Northern New Jersey Ophthalmological Society (President 1990), and the Summit Medical Society (President from 1989 to its closing in 2001).
The center of Charlie’s life was his family, who lived at 196 Summit Avenue in Summit, NJ from 1971 to 2000. Charlie gave his family and the house his unwavering attention and love. He and Ellie loved to entertain their friends and Charlie became, under Ellie’s tutelage, a fantastic chef, stretching out later to become a baker of fine desserts to complement Ellie’s dinners. He restored the house’s dilapidated swimming pool for his sons and oversaw the restoration of the Victorian-era home to a state befitting its heritage. Charlie also was an accomplished musician, studying flute with the late Samuel Baron. He was a proficient pianist and accompanied Ellie, who had a beautiful soprano voice. They loved the arts, attending concerts and visiting museums and galleries all over the metropolitan area and wherever they travelled.
In 2000, Charlie and Ellie moved to a smaller home in Short Hills, NJ in anticipation of the progression of Ellie’s Parkinson’s disease. After retiring in 2001, Charlie kept a very active schedule, inside and outside of home. When caring for Ellie became too much, he found wonderful caregivers for her in the local Brazilian community from Newark. An unexpected but very happy result of Charlie’s open heart was that Ellie’s caregiver Marisa Vieira and her children, Andre and Danielle, came to live with Ellie and Charlie. Marisa and her children provided both Ellie and Charlie with a new source of joy and love, without which their later life would have been immeasurably poorer. Marisa’s parents, sister and brother-in-law also provided invaluable support to Charlie in his final years.
Charlie is survived by his sons Thomas and Julian, and grandchildren David and Lauren Ball. A private gathering will be held to celebrate Charlie’s life and achievements. Contributions in memory of Dr. Charles J. Ball can be sent to the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America or the New York University Medical School