On September 1, 2006, four years ago this day, my grandfather passed away at the age of 72. He was one of the persons after whom I was named: Kenneth Lee Ballard. I don’t share his middle name, but there are a few other things about him I do share.
Like my father, I share his seemingly unending curiosity into all things technical. My grandfather loved to tinker with electronics, even so much that he had a small electronics lab in his home. Radios and gizmos of various kinds littered a small area, and I remember when I was 17 seeing a radio antenna that, at least according to my grandfather, could pick up radio waves coming from lightning strikes a thousand miles away. Whether that was true I had no real way of knowing as I knew quite little about electronics and radios compared to my father and grandfather.
But an appreciation of and curiosity for electronics is something that seemed to run in his blood, and it’s something that arguably runs through my own, though you probably won’t find a soldering iron in my hand any time soon, whereas my grandfather seemed as at home with one as a surgeon with a scalpel. He was also a veteran of the United States Navy, having served during the Korean War. I knew my grandfather was a libertarian, but I didn’t know he was an avid supporter of the Second Amendment and owned a pretty good collection of handguns and rifles.
Obviously, I could not have known that when I saw him in August 2006 it would be for the last time. I saw him for a few days at his home in McRae, Georgia, the first time in 8 years that I had seen him, and just three weeks before he passed away September 1, 2006.
Rest peacefully, grandpa.