Ada Ballard Hewell, 95, of Fayette County


By Jeanne Hewell Chambers

Now that there’s no fear of being struck from the will, I can tell you that my mother – Ada Ruth Ballard Hewell – made 95 trips around the sun. To Mother, age was just a number on a sheet of paper that may have mattered to somebody else, but she didn’t give a twit about it. When completing medical forms (something she did only a few times in her life because she was incredibly, vibrantly healthy), she would give her birth date, then in the box requesting her age (usually right next to the date of birth box), she wrote: “Do the math.”

“If you tell people how old you are,” she’d say, “they’ll treat you the way they think you ought to be living at that age. If you don’t tell them your age, they’ll treat you the way you engage with them ’cause they don’t know any better.” If she had to think about age, on the inside, she was forever 16 years old. It’s a philosophy that served her well (and sometimes drove us crazy).

As recently as the first week of July, she was with us in North Carolina where we are adding a new guest wing to our house. “I can install baseboards,” she assured us as we plopped her great-grandbaby in her lap to feed and rock while we worked. And she meant it.

Being ageless added vibrancy and adventure to her life. In her forties, she ordered a chart for the keyboard and taught herself to play the piano. In her fifties she conquered her fear of the water, built a swimming pool, hired a traveling swim instructor, and a week later, we attended her first swim recital. In her sixties, she started the High Noon Toastmaster club and faithfully attended the Osher Lifelong Learning Program at Emory University in Atlanta. After being widowed in her seventies, she married for a second time. (Unfortunately, Tom Selleck wasn’t available.) In her eighties, she tubed behind a boat on Lake Glenville. In her nineties, she moved into an apartment in the Somerby Independent Living Facility in Peachtree City, Georgia – a place she called her personal cruise ship – and enjoyed new friends and signed up for every field trip, every dance, every happy hour.

Mother placed a high value on education, attending business school after graduating from Fayette County High School in 1945 while working at the Atlanta General Depot as her contribution to the war effort. Because the only place she’d rather be than in her hometown of Fayetteville, Georgia, was the beach, Mother turned down many opportunities for better-paying jobs in Atlanta. With the exception of a brief stent as secretary for the Fayette County Board of Commissioners, her career was spent doing a variety of things for the Fayette County Board of Education, all with the intent of making her beloved local school system the best it could be. The day she was inducted into the Fayette County High School Hall of Fame is in the top ten best days of her life.

An avid reader, Mother enjoyed a broad genre of books from light-hearted stories of the-devil-may-care-coming-of-age-late women to crime and thriller books. She especially loved poetry. Mother served on the Fayette County Margaret Mitchell Library Board for many, many years, helping guide the library through many growing phases, and to my knowledge, she was never late returning a book. (Now watch the past-due fines start rolling in!)

Ada, or YeaYea as her grandchildren call her, was thoroughly devoted to family, both chosen and biological. She fed her three grandchildren their first cornbread – to mixed reviews – but knowing that no self-respecting Southerner could go through life disliking cornbread, she was persistent and eventually won them over. She dressed up in elaborate costumes and scared the bejesus out of them on Halloween or any day she declared to be Halloween. Practical jokes weren’t exactly her forte, but that didn’t stop her from doing things like putting Daddy’s pants in the middle of a hay bale, which in her eyes, made it look like he was stuck there. When her great-grandchildren Calder and Emery, who live in Colorado, were born, she hopped on a plane and visited them as often as possible, and when Ava Jeanne, her third great-grand was born in South Carolina, she was there with open arms when we got home from the hospital.

Katie Belle Wesley Ballard, Mother’s mother, was famous throughout Fayette County for her cakes, and that acorn didn’t fall far from the tree. Friends got cakes for birthdays, special occasions, and just because Mother thought they needed one.

On Saturday, August 5, 2023, Ada joined a gathering of angels including her parents, W. J. (William) and Katie Belle Wesley Ballard; life partners and husbands Crawford Hewell and Walter Mashburn; siblings Joseph (Lucile) Ballard, Charles Ballard, Joyce Sauls, Edward (Janice) Ballard; and more friends than you can shake a stick at.

Here on earth, she leaves behind broken hearts in the chests of daughters Jeanne Hewell-Chambers (Andy) and Jan Adamson (Tony) and son Jerry Hewell (Robin); grandchildren Alison Chambers, Kipp Chambers (Marnie), and Tony Adamson (Tori); great-grandchildren Calder Chambers, Embry Chambers, and Ava Jeanne Chambers, along with a plethora of beloved nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be held on Monday, August 7, 2023, from 5 to 8 pm at Parrott’s Funeral Home in Fairburn with a Celebration of Ada’s Life at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, at Fayetteville First United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Georgia.

Mother loved any flowers pink and/or Southern, or you can honor her memory by making a donation to Brightmoor Hospice in Griffin, Georgia. The family also welcomes with gratitude any kind words and stories you feel like sending to salve our hearts.