A longtime Green Country educator and superintendent lost his battle with ALS Tuesday.
Dr. Keith Ballard was 72 and was most recently a professor at OU Tulsa.
Dr. Ballard started at OU-Tulsa in 2006 and helped launch the education masters and doctoral programs here on campus. But many said he'll be remembered for the impact he had on those he taught.
"For Keith, every life mattered,” said Dr. Curt Adams.
Dr. Curt Adams taught with Dr. Keith Ballard at the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at OU Tulsa for 16 years.
Dr. Ballard even taught classes this past year, while battling ALS.
Dr. Adams said Dr. Ballard will be remembered for his leadership.
"He showed us how to lead with love and not through fear,” said Dr. Adams.
Dr. Ballard was superintendent at Oologah-Talala, Claremore, and Tulsa Public Schools. He also served on the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
Claremore School Board Member Rick Mosier said Dr. Ballard had an impact on everyone he met.
"That's what Keith did, he developed people and did that better than most,” said Mosier.
Mosier has served on the school board for more than 20 years but met Dr. Ballard while he was superintendent at Oologah. Dr. Ballard was superintendent during the 1991 Oologah tornado that caused damage to the school.
Mosier said Dr. Ballard made public education better in Oklahoma.
"Keith's biggest accomplishment is the people he mentored, the people he educated, those he helped bring into the profession,” said Mosier.
Dr. Ballard lived in Claremore for more than 30 years. His children grew up in Claremore Public Schools and now some of his grandchildren also go there.
The Claremore Public Schools Superintendent Bryan Fraizer said Dr. Ballard believed in the power of public education.
“Today we lost a true Champion and Warrior for public education. Dr. Ballard was a man who believed in Public Education's power and entered the arena to fight for that belief. He once said he wanted to make a difference, and I don't know of a person that has made a more significant impact in Oklahoma Public Education than Dr. Keith Ballard. He was a mentor, a teacher and a true friend. He will be missed and never replaced but his legacy will live forever in the many lives he has impacted over the years,” Claremore Public Schools Superintendent Bryan Fraizer said in a statement.
Mosier said the Ballard family has made a big impact on the district and the School Board recently named the new Innovation Lab at Westside Elementary after Dr. Ballard.
“It was a small token that we could do as a school board,” said Mosier. “His grandchildren go to school at Westside, so now they can go to their grandfather's innovation lab.”
"I mourn his passing alongside the generations of Oklahomans who have better lives because of his devotion to public service,” Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum said in a statement.
"He transformed countless lives, and he will be missed by all who knew him,” Tulsa Chamber President Mike Neal said in a statement.
Funeral services for Dr. Ballard have not been set yet.