Photography

Harriet H. Ball

October 13, 2021

Obituary

Harriet Hulbert Ball, known as Hattie, died peacefully on October 13, 2021,
at the age of 98. Hattie proclaimed, “Be glad for me. I had a great ride!”
Hattie has sallied forth as she wished, surrounded by her family and
buoyed by the support of friends. She spent her final weeks in Hospice care, and
out of pain, at the Sunderland home of her grandson's family, embraced by love
and wrap-around TLC. What an immense blessing! One kept from far too many,
particularly during Covid. In the cheerful company of chickens, kitties and
children, Hattie relished tasty food, and enjoyed a few local road trips, games of
rummy and Scrabble and an ongoing hootenanny of old folk and camp songs.
Hattie was astonished and delighted by a daily deluge of loving messages and
cards from friends.


Hattie was born in June 1923 to Chauncey and Carol Gulick Hulbert of
Brookline, Massachusetts. The family lived in Brookline and spent time each year
at summer camp in Fairlee VT, where her grandparents had founded the Aloha
Camps in 1905, and her own parents founded Camp Lanakila for boys in 1922.
Hattie excelled at horse-back riding, canoeing and mountain tripping as a
camper, achieving the highest ranks at Aloha.


Over the years Hattie sold many bags of delicious pecans, fundraising for
Smith College scholarships. She attended Smith College on scholarship herself,
class of 1944. She graduated early in December 1943 to serve her country
working at the Pentagon as a Military Intelligence Research Analyst. In order to
protect the highly classified information in the “Top Secret Ultra” War Department
cables she condensed daily, Harriet seemed to have brainwashed herself to
forget it each evening upon descending the stairs from her office in the
Pentagon.


At age 16, an encounter with a fortune teller correctly forecast Hattie’s
marriage to “a man you have already met, and his initials are P.B.“ She had
indeed met Phil Ball of Deerfield three years prior. She was a skinny 13-year-old
in a group of giggling Aloha campers, drying dishes with a hunk of an AMC
hutman in the kitchen of Greenleaf Hut on Mount Lafayette. Hattie’s words: “We
are flattered beyond belief because there supervising us is this gorgeous college
man of 18 snapping a wet dishtowel at our legs! His name is duly recorded in my
precious diary: ‘Phil Ball’.”


Ten years later, after World War II, they reconnected through Hattie’s Smith
college friends. A pleasant-sounding young man on the phone turned a fairy tale
from her diary into a real person. “This is Phil Ball from Lafayette and I want to
wash dishes with you!” They married in 1948.


Hattie and Phil forged a rich life together working and volunteering in
Franklin County. They built their home in Old Deerfield from plans advertised in
Parents’ Magazine and purchased from Sears & Roebuck. In this house they
raised three children. Mom hosted whole class scavenger hunt birthday parties;
we counted and rolled all the grammar school trick-or-treat for Unicef pennies on
our dining room table. Phil and Hattie established and ran the Mohawk Trail
Skiway, a local rope-tow hill for families, open weekends, just a little way up
Route 2 from town. They danced in the Franklin County Public Hospital Follies,
they shingled, painted, and helped bring Camp Kiwanee into reality. They biked,
paddled, and climbed mountains together, including Rainier, Kilimanjaro, and
closer to home, many of the White Mountains.


Hattie earned a Master of Education degree from UMass Amherst, then
taught reading at Eaglebrook and English at Stoneleigh-Burnham schools. Later
there were stints as a mentor at Bement and in the library at Deerfield Academy.
For more than a decade she showed up weekly to support inmates one-on-one
at the Franklin County Jail as a volunteer with the Decisions Thresholds program.
She committed to the program goal: to prevent recidivism through encouraging
people and teaching thoughtful decision making skills. In her second career, as a
realtor at Massamont and Lighthouse, she helped people buy and sell their
houses.


Always with a sweater in the works, Hattie built 40-year friendships over
book discussions with the “Jugglers,” sang in the Pioneer Valley Symphony
Chorus, read plays with the Drama Club, volunteered as a "pink lady” in the
Hospital gift shop, and continued spending summers being outdoors and making
herself useful at the camps in Fairlee, Vermont. Blue ribbons for Hattie Ball’s
knitting and handwork were almost as frequent as those for Clarkdale apples at
the Franklin County Fair. See her cable-knitting in the photo?


Life changed abruptly in 1975. Shortly after becoming the District Court
judge in Greenfield, Phil died suddenly at age 56. Hattie lived on. Always
physically and mentally active and fiercely independent, she persevered, aiming
to include fun and joy, adventure, learning and service. She continued working,
volunteering, traveling, making friends and mowing the lawn. She lived in the Old
Deerfield house for a total of 57 years. With a wink, Hattie subtly subverted social
conventions.


In her annual Christmas “poems,” Hattie documented zip-lining at 86,
hiking up to Aloha’s Bluff at 93, volunteering at the Cooley Dickinson Hospital at
94, and paddle-board riding at 95. She spent her final 12 years as an active
resident at Rockridge Retirement Community in Northampton, gardening,
welcoming her neighbors, walking in the woods, hiking with the Champagne
Hikers (until she broke her pelvis,) singing, and traveling, including some Sunday
drives back to Old Deerfield and the Brick Church community. It took a shattered
hip two and a half years ago to slow Hattie down. No more hiking but she still
played bridge and did crossword and Sudoku puzzles in pen. Lately, competitive
Scrabble evolved into a delightful cooperative project. Friendship now
paramount, not score.


Hattie made and kept friends her whole life, friends of all ages. She was
blown away by a blizzard of cards for her 98th birthday in June, and again in her
Hospice weeks. She loved that flood of cards, letters, stories, poems, and songs,
all manner of kind thoughts and appreciative words, sent to her by mail, by
computer, and also those arriving on the wind. Hattie was both amused and
deeply honored by the respect and affection expressed. Hattie was astounded to
learn of her impact.


Predeceased in 1975 by her husband, Philip Hosmer Ball, Jr., Hattie is
survived by her daughters, Carol Ball, and her wife Randie Handleman of
Greenfield; Shel Ball, and her partner Gary Seldon of Greenfield; her son Philip
H. Ball III, aka Terry, and his wife, Katia Ball of Westfield; grandson Abel Silva III,
his partner Linnea Graziano, and great grandson Abel IV of South Hadley; and
grandson Philip Ball Silva, his wife Jessica Corwin, and great grandchildren
Josephine and Peter Silva of Sunderland.


We hope to gather for a Celebration of Hattie Ball’s Life in Old Deerfield
next year, in safer Covid times.


If you wish to contribute in honor of Hattie, consider volunteering in or
making a memorial donation to a cause that matters to you, or to:
• Pioneer Valley Hospice and Palliative Care, 329 Conway Street #2,
Greenfield, MA 01301
• The Aloha Foundation, 2968 Lake Morey Road, Fairlee VT 05054
Or, take somebody out for a strawberry milkshake in Hattie’s honor!

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