Debra Lea French Ball, 67, Orange


Last updated 7/11/2023 at 5:03pm

Debra Lea French Ball was born August 7, 1955, to Caleb and Bette French of Orange, Texas, the first of three daughters. From childhood on, she loved the Toro, Louisiana lake house where the family would relax, fish on the banks, and eat grilled food. She adored her parents.

Debra’s primary high school activity was band, competing at State UIL Solo and Ensemble in Austin four times. She was also selected for Texas’ first high school half-day computer training program, graduating from West Orange with honors in 1973.

Next, she attended Lamar University as a computer programming major. In marriage, she paused her education to focus on her two children: Tracy and Charles Hogden. A few years later, as a single mom, her early work life included Dolinger Steel, The Fair, and Sears, where she met her new best friend, Don Ball, whom she married in 1984. She had been his supervisor at Sears Customer Service and, according to him, it remained the same in marriage. After the honeymoon, the couple moved to Baytown, where he taught school, and she returned to college, maintaining a 4.0 average in the University of Houston-Clearlake accounting bachelor’s degree. She passed the CPA exam on the first sitting and went to work for Pennzoil in Houston.

Debra was a supportive wife and mother. She fostered Tracy's success as a dancer, singer, Christian mime, waitress, and Boston Terrier breeder. She taught Charles in homeschool because of his learning difficulties. Then, she helped him find instruction to become a pre-Olympic skater, state bowling team champion, and mechanic. Daniel and Megan, Don's children, visited often, so she mothered them as if they were hers. She exuded kindness, selflessness, and love.

In 1991, Don began serving United Methodist churches as a music minister, and Debra found positions wherever they lived. She served Bogart's Deli, Graham Heating and Air, a cattle breeder, Texas Home Health, the Steamboat Museum complex, and Jackson Hewitt.

In worship, she interpreted for the deaf, sang in the choir, played the flute, or rang handbells. She volunteered for ministries like children’s choir and “Jumping for Jesus” rope jumping club. Using her light coloratura voice, she performed in the Baytown Community Chorus, Beaumont Interfaith Choral Society, Southeast Texas Symphony Chorus, and in New York's Carnegie Hall with the Texas Festival Chorus. In addition, she enjoyed skating, dancing, and working with artistic media: leather craft, macramé, diamond painting, stained glass, cross stitch, watercolor, and photography. One of her greatest joys was going on cruises with family. It was an annual event for about four years.

Tragedy came into Debra's life when her son, Charles, died. Shortly after, she retired because of health problems. In retirement, she continued artistic endeavors and some tax accounting, while doing her best to show love to her family. Unfortunately, her health continued to deteriorate. On July 7, 2023, she finished her course and went to be with the Lord. She and Don would have been married for 39 years on July 18. Debra's legacy of love, professionalism, faith, generosity, and service will live on in the many lives she touched. She especially loved the Savior and her family.

Debra Ball is preceded in death by her father, Caleb French; her son, Charles Hogden; and her grandson, Caleb Underwood. She is survived by her mother, Bette French; her two sisters, Barbara Welch and Peggy Fuller; her husband, Don Ball; in-laws, Betty and Don Ball, Sr.; Don’s siblings: Greg Ball and Stephanie Rowland; her daughter, Tracy Hogden Underwood; her grandson, Christopher Fitton; Don’s children, Daniel Ball and Megan Ball Neel; their seven children; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, July 15, 2023, at Calvary Baptist Church in West Orange.


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