Mary Ballou

Mary Ballou, 82, of Waco, passed away Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

Funeral Service: 11AM Wednesday, June 10th at Lake Shore Funeral Home Chapel. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery.

Visitation: 6 to 8PM Tuesday, June 9th at Lake Shore Funeral Home.

News article: Mary Mildred Ballou remembered as firm teacher, loving mother

By CARL HOOVER choover@wacotrib.com Jun 5, 2020

Waco teacher and community leader Mary Mildred Ballou, seen here in a 2015 photo of her work to get a historical marker for the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church rectory, died Tuesday.

Friends and family members remembered longtime Waco resident Mary Mildred Ballou as a strict but loving disciplinarian in the home and classroom with a knack for Creole cooking and a love for her church that stretched to her husband Classie and their five children. Ballou died Tuesday in her home after a lengthy illness. She was 82.

Born Mary Mildred Pete to Oris and Elzina Pete, she grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she met and married a rising young Louisiana musician named Classie Ballou 64 years ago.

Classie Ballou’s career as a guitarist and band leader took them from Lake Charles to stops in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Dallas among others, but they put down roots in Waco in 1962 and have lived here since.

In Waco, Mildred Ballou began her career as an educator, starting as a library worker in A.J. Moore High School, then getting a bachelor’s degree in education from Paul Quinn College, to which she would add a master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and further graduate work at Baylor University. She taught 10 years in Marlin before leading classrooms at Cedar Ridge Elementary School and J.H. Hines Elementary School in Waco.

While many in Waco knew her as the firm but welcoming wife of one of Waco’s most popular musicians, hundreds more knew her as Mrs. Ballou, the teacher who ran a tight ship and made sure her sailors stayed onboard in their places.

Noey Meza, 46, a Connally Middle School sixth grade social studies teacher and coach of girls’ athletics, had Mrs. Ballou as his fourth grade teacher at Marlin Elementary School.

“She was a fair lady, very tough and she expected a lot from her students,” Meza said. He saw a similar combination of strictness and caring in other teachers as he grew up, and that experience shaped him as an educator, he said. Years later, he reconnected with Ballou and informed her he was now a teacher. “It made her day,” Meza said. And she did not cut any slack for her own kids. “When Dad was on the road, she was in charge,” said Cranston Ballou, the second son of four. “And when he got home, she was still in charge.”

When he and his siblings were out in public with their mother, their behavior caught others’ eye, but for a good reason. “’Ms. Ballou, your boys are very well-mannered,’ they’d say.”

And there was a reason for that: the wrath of mom coming down on the disobedient. “She was very strict. She had us like little soldiers,” Cranston Ballou said. That paid off years later, he added, when he secured a government clearance because he had a clean record.

CaCean, the youngest of the five Ballou children and the only daughter, remembered the same. “She had high expectations for us. She’d say, ‘Do the same thing I did, and even better,’” she said.

Cedric, son No. 4, said, “She was a great mother and always wanted us to respect our elders. She didn’t have a musical bone in her body, but she encouraged all of us to play (an instrument). She could dance good, though.”

In addition to the classroom, Ballou was devoted to her church, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, present in services whenever possible and active in church activities and fundraisers for years. It was the Ballou sons who often mowed the church’s considerable lawn acreage, and all the Ballous’ children grew up in Catholic schools, though Cranston and Cedric would graduate from Waco High School.

She was an active member of the Community Race Relations Coalition, where she became good friends with coalition board Chair Jo Welter. “Everywhere she went, people knew her because she was an educator, not because she was Classie’s wife,” Welter said.

Even when the two drove to Austin to attend a concert, they met one of her students at a gas station on the way. Ballou also served on the city’s Historic Landmark Preservation Commission and was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Ballou took pride in her Creole roots and her cooking. “She had to have her hot sauce,” Welter said. She also made sure her daughters-in-law knew what she thought was the right way to do it.

“I’m going to miss her terribly,” said Welter, who acknowledged the death of a mutual friend, Alice Pollard, earlier this year. “I know that Alice is in the next world waiting to greet her.”

Ballou is survived by her husband Classie; sons Cranston, Cedric, Clinton and Classie Jr. (Eddie Ray Johnson); daughter CaCean; and brothers Earl Pete of Houston and Curtis Caesar of Beaumont. Local musicians and family friends have started a GoFundMe campaign for funeral expenses.

Place of Service: Lake Shore Funeral Home Chapel , 5201 Steinbeck Bend; Waco, TX 76708



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Condolence Messages

  1. Margaret Myers

    I am sorry for the loss of Mrs. Balou. She was such a genuine soul. We shared many joy filled times at St. John Catholic Church and KPC Ladies Auxiliary. Please know that Mrs. Mildred gave her all. Blessings✝️🙏🏾 Mrs. M. Myers. Killeen.

  2. Kerwin LeFrere

    To the Ballou family, I am deeply sorry for your loss. This is a sad moment in our lives but remember she is now with Jesus in a much better place. Hopefully, we will all join her someday.

  3. Michael Tusa and family

    The last time I saw her was at church. She loved our Lord and now he loves her back in heaven. Something I received right after my own mother passed.

    “Just think of the brilliance of her face when she finally stood before our Lord for the very first time in person. She is now perfect, she needed no cane or walker when our Lord took her by the hand to meet their father.”

  4. Dear Ballou Family,
    Please know the Bluebonnet Hospice Family is thinking of you during this most difficult time. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.
    God bless and keep you,
    The Owners and Staff of Bluebonnet Health Services(Hospice)

  5. Audrey Scott and Family

    My condolences go out to the family. Ms. Ballou was one of our Neighborhood Moms in Riveroaks. She had the brightest smile on her face every time I saw her. May God strengthen each of you during this time and keeping you all in my prayers always. Sending my Love to the Family always.

  6. My Beautiful friend will be missed on this side.
    To God Be The Glory !

  7. So sorry for the loss of this beauty. Take your rest Mom and Pop will be taken care of. Gone but never forgotten.

  8. I met Mrs. Ballou at Cedar Ridge Elementary. She had the blessed skill to teach every student coming her way. I never remember a day she was not a smiling face on our campus. Mrs. Ballou was such a kind, spirited, and giving teacher. From the first time I met her, I felt like she valued everything surrounding her. She extended her friendship to everyone. I feel sure many children and educators in Waco remember her as a favorite teacher! Blessings of peace to her family.

  9. George Salinas family

    I am so sorry for your loss, we loved her dearly and my granddaughter loved it when she spoke to her in French. She is with our Lord now and she will be smiling down at us.

  10. Gail Scott Walker

    Weeping may endure for a night
    But joy comes in the morning
    My sincere condolences are extended to the Ballou family. Take comfort in knowing that Mrs. Ballou is sleeping in the arms of Jesus. Praying God’s strength for the Ballou family.
    Sincerely, Gail Scott

  11. My heartfelt prayers to the family.

  12. Classie, Cedric, Cedryl and family, we ares o sorry for your loss. We are praying for you during this difficult time. We love you all. My dad, Kenneth sends his condolences and love.

  13. Classie, Cedric, Cedryl and family, we are so sorry for your loss. We are praying for you during this difficult time. We love you all. My dad, Kenneth sends his condolences and love.

  14. Christina Estes

    My deepest sympathy. My heart goes out to you in your time of sorrow and may you, and your loved ones find the strength to get through this.

  15. Rose Freeman & Family
    To Classie, Cedric, Cedryl, CaeCaun and family:
    We are deeply saddened by the passing of my dear friend, Mildred. She and I were part of a car pool that drove back and forth to Marlin ISD from Waco. CaeCaun laid on me in the back seat on our way home, when I wasn’t driving. Mildred and I were hired in Waco ISD the same year. To know Mildred is to love her. She was my youngest daughter’s
    Third grade teacher. She remains her favorite teacher, still. Mildred allowed another daughter of mine, who was in college, to come to her room and speak to her students about college. So, she became my college student’s favorite teacher, too.
    I said all of that to let you know that Mildred was love by so many, because she is love. Her smile was contagious. She would always ask about the girls and they ask about her. She will be deeply missed. She loved the Lord. She has traveled from labor to her reward . May she rest in peace!
    Remember: Those who die, don’t go away! They walk beside us every day! Unseen, unheard, but always near,
    Forever loved, forever missed, but very dear!

  16. The Villarreal Fzmily

    We were so sadden to hear about the passing of Mrs Ballou. I have so many wonderful memories of your mom. My parents were such good friends along with all of us growing up. I still remember our visits to Big mamas house (Ethel Irving) and Before we left we would always go by your house to say hello to your mom and dad. I remember the time with your parents will come into our store mostly your mom just to say hello to see mom and dad. I will always remember your mom‘s beautiful smile and the way she made you feel when you would run into her anywhere in Waco. Your mom is so proud being from Louisiana. She was so happy when we told her Analisa was going to LSU. She said “oh you’re going to be in my neighborhood now”. I will miss your mom but I know she’s in a better place because she’s with my parents now in heaven. May God give each of you strength and comfort in the next few days and remember one time to get hard and you wish your mom was still here just know that she is in your heart and she will never leave there. May God bless you all and may your mom Rest In Peace.
    Yvonne, Fernando & Analisa Villarreal

  17. Stephanie Robert

    I am so sorry for your loss. Mrs. Ballou was such a wonderful person !

  18. Celia Williams

    My prayers are with our “play sister”family. We miss her kindness, loving smile n caring attitude. We love you Mildred.

  19. Rev. Michael D. Babers

    Mrs. Mildred Ballou was a jewel! To know her was to love her, and she loved me too. She would always kiss me and tell me that she was praying for me, and she meant it! If she and I were at a function together, we would end up sitting together, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I will mourn her and miss her dearly! I will be praying for the family and all who loved her. You have my family’s deepest condolences.

  20. Rev. Harold and Lillie Kuykendall

    What a Great Woman, I love the family!!!

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