BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Shirley LeRoy Ball has three recommendations for people who would like to live to 100 as he has.
The first is to keep busy.
“I’ve been pretty active all my life,” said Ball, a life-long Kaysville resident who now lives with his daughter in Layton.
For 31 of those 100 years, Ball worked with the fire department at Hill Air Force Base. For another 26, he worked for Kaysville’s fire department and for another 22, he worked wiring homes for electricity.
“I did keep busy,” he said, “in fact, when I was 81 years old, I was on top of a house disconnecting the hot-line and connecting it back up for a fellow.”
Ball’s other two suggestions are to have a good attitude and a full social life.
“I always had a positive attitude,” said Ball. “If I was working, it didn’t matter what I was doing. There are so many people that have a negative attitude about everything and I don’t think that’s very good because you’re looking at things in the wrong aspect to enjoy life.”
Being engaged with people is also important, according to Ball.
“People have to have a social life even when they retire,” he said. “To hibernate around home Р it’s wrong.”
Ball’s work, his attitude and his social skills were undoubtedly part of the reason he was named Honorary Fire Chief at Hill Air Force Base on his 100th birthday, Nov. 13. He is the first to be so honored.
“It was fabulous,” said Sherryl Hart, his daughter. “He was so happy and he was totally surprised.”
“They had a big party,” he said. “I couldn’t believe what they had planned for it.”
The Hill squad presented a plaque to Ball, and some of his autobiography was read. He was also presented a white fire chief’s helmet signed by firefighters at the base.
“The chief wanted him to have a badge and they didn’t have one,” said Hart, “so the chief took his own badge off his shirt and gave it to my dad and he’s had it on ever since. He’s been walking on air for a week now.”
At an open house afterward, Hart was impressed that her father could remember the friends she’d had in high school.
When they came to congratulate him and would start to introduce themselves, he’d stop them, saying he remembered them. He would then tell stories about their high school years.
“He has a very good memory,” she said.
When working, Ball said he was often the one who got elected to collect money for flowers if someone was in the hospital, and he somehow ended up with the job of cutting everyone’s hair at the fire station.
“I cut about 32 guys’ head of hair every two weeks and one of the guys asked how I knew how to do it,” he said. “I told him if you can trim shrubs, you can barber. They got quite a kick out of that.”
Firefighters at the base recognized him on his 100th birthday not only for his work, but for how he mentored the many who came after him.
“He has been around our firehouses for along time and he deserves recognition for all he has given to our career field,” said Paul Erickson, Hill Air Force Base fire chief in a press release. “In addition to his more than 30 years as a base firefighter, Chief Ball has been a mentor to many of our Air Force firefighters.”