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Leoma Wiseman Ballard, 1st Female AMOA President, Passes Away at 90
On October 28, 1981, in Chicago, Leoma Ballard made coin-op history when she was unanimously elected President of the Amusement & Music Operators Association (AMOA) by the group’s board of directors.
Ms. Ballard started Belle Amusement Company in 1947 and became a Life Member of AMOA in 1954. She joined the AMOA board in 1968 and 13 years later, she ascended to the top leadership position as its President.
Ms. Ballard was very active in the West Virginia Music and Vending Association, with her term as secretary/treasurer spanning 40 years. She also served as President of the Belle Women’s Club and member of the Belle Historical and Restoration Society. She received the Distinguished West Virginian Award in 1980.
In addition, she was a realtor for the ERA Property Center, committee woman for the Republican Party of Easter Kanawha County and a member of the Judson Baptist Church.
On May 16, 2012, Leoma Ballard of Belle passed away at the Golden Living Center in Glasgow following a long illness.
Preceding her in death were her husband, Wilbur Chris Ballard; sister, Aretta McCarus; and her parents, Henry Ward and Leva Christy Wiseman.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at the Fidler and Frame Funeral Home, 1126 E. Dupont Avenue, Belle, WV 25015. Phone: 304-949-4211.
Below are excerpts from the transcript of President Ballard’s acceptance speech during the 1981 annual membership meeting nearly 31 years ago in Chicago:
“Thank you, President Norman Pink, officers, directors, members and guests…this association has been organized for 33 years, and this is the first time for a woman to be elected to this position.
“I do have a solid feeling of accomplishment and I am looking forward with enthusiasm and pride to serve as your President this year. Every person is an unrepeatable experiment and that is why ever person is unique. I have always believed the people in this industry are unique and beautiful people. I am proud to be part of this industry. I believe in free enterprise and the profit system. I am a native of West Virginia and our state motto is Mountaineers Always Free. It is inherent that I feel strongly about this matter of free enterprise.
“Today, I am calling for your pledge of unity. This year, more than ever, we must have organized support to reach our set goal. When you give of your possessions, you give little, but when you give of yourself, you truly give....
“…This can only be done by each individual making a pledge to action by active support and understanding. We must organize and coordinate our efforts, working with timetables and develop our plan of action. We must know our lawmakers. These are the ingredients that will make the impact on lawmakers so they will know we have a united voice. This year is the time…if we follow through with a positive mental attitude, dedication, drive and determination, we will reach our goal.
“As your President and on behalf of the Board of Directors, we are dedicated to achieve these objectives. When you are called on, I ask your cooperation and participation. It is what we do with what we have that determines the outcome. I know that we can be successful in attaining our set goal. Do you believe it?