October 25, 2023

Nancy Graves Ball, daughter of Palmer Ray Ball and Bonnie May Ball (nee Sage) was born in Toms Creek, Virginia on June 12, 1934. She was the third and youngest surviving child in the family. Her childhood consisted of regular movement in the southeast Kentucky/southwest Virginia coal mining region of the Appalachian Mountains until the family eventually settled in Haysi, Virginia. Her father was an accountant and her mother was a teacher and renowned local historian. She grew up amidst hardship, and yet emerged an intelligent, sensitive, creative and fiercely independent woman.

She graduated from Haysi High School in 1952 and went on to Berea College, where she earned a degree in English and graduated in 1956.

After completing school, Nancy moved to Chicago, where her sister, Dorothy, and brother-in-law, Basil had settled following their marriage. In Chicago, she worked a variety of jobs, including case worker, receptionist and bicycle messenger. She also acted in local theatre and most importantly, made numerous close and life-long friends.

Nancy's father passed away in 1981. When her mother's health began to falter later in the 1980's, she moved to Big Stone Gap, Virginia, where she cared for her mother until her passing in 1996. Following the loss of her mother, Nancy remained in Big Stone Gap and was well-known for creating the breathtaking scenery for the local outdoor drama, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. Her scenery is briefly captured in the film Big Stone Gap, based on the book by Big Stone Gap native Adriana Trigiani. She was often called upon for her extraordinary artistic talent for personal projects and background scenery for local school theater and dance events. Her family and friends were annual recipients of her exquisite holiday drawings of nativity scenes.

Nancy was a faithful and active member of St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Norton, Virginia.

Father Tim Drake was with her shortly before her passing, and her dear friends Joie Cantrell and Christina Gipson were holding her hands as she transitioned.

Nancy was preceded in death by her father and mother, her sister Dorothy, her brother George, her brother Maurice, (who passed in infancy before Nancy's birth), and her niece Deborah Sams. She is survived by nephews Eric Ball, Timothy Sams and Barry Booton, and by niece Katharine Booton Wilson, by her brother-in-law, Basil Booton, and by countless close, loving friends.

Nancy's independent spirit and gentle nature inspire us to speak our own truths while remaining loving and connected to those around us. She will be dearly missed.

The family will receive friends from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Monday, November 13th at Saint Anthony's Roman Catholic Church in Norton, with a service to follow at 11:00 a.m. officiated by Father Tim Drake.

Burial will be at the Ball family plot in the Cecil-Fry Cemetery in Pennington Gap.