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Bill (BA '60) & Avonnell Ballou
Bill Ballou (BA ’60) has proudly worn his Baylor Ring for over six decades. He made a change to the ring in recent years, removing the original green stone in the center and replacing it with a diamond.
When the diamond catches the light, Bill is reminded of his wife of 52 years, Avonnell Bolton Ballou. Avonnell wore the diamond in her wedding ring until she passed in August 2013.
“My love for Jesus is primary in my life,” Bill said. “And now—every time I look at my Baylor Ring—I am constantly reminded of the other two great loves of my life—Baylor University and Avonnell.”
Bill and Avonnell were college sweethearts, having met their freshman year. The two elementary education majors would find themselves in classes together throughout their time at Baylor. But it was a fateful encounter in front of Pat Neff Hall that captured Bill’s attention in a fresh way.
“Our paths crossed just before Thanksgiving of 1959. She said to me: ‘Well Bill Ballou! Now that I’ve seen you, my Thanksgiving is complete!’ She later admitted that I was the fifth boy she had said this to. But I was the first one who fell for it. And I fell hard,” Bill laughed.
Thus began a courtship that culminated in Bill proposing to Avonnell in front of Waco Hall on Friday, May 13, 1960.
“When she said yes, I reached over and kissed her for the first time,” Bill said, smiling at the memory.
The couple went to Armstrong Jewelers on Austin Avenue to select a ring. Avonnell would wear the third of a carat, solitaire diamond until her 50th birthday.
“Down through the years, I had it in my head that I wanted to give her a 1 carat diamond. For years I served as a minister of education in Baptist churches. And Avonelle was a public school teacher. We worked and we saved and we reared our children. I was able to purchase a 1 carat diamond and place it in her ring for her 50th birthday.”
He added: “I love Baylor so very much because Baylor provided for me a fantastic education, and it gave me my bride for life: Avonnell Bolton from Shreveport, Louisiana.”
After Avonnell’s death, Bill took additional steps to commemorate their love for each other and for Baylor University. He established the Avonnell Bolton Ballou and William E. (Bill) Ballou Endowed Scholarship Fund in Education. The fund, Bill said, is a way to bless others with the quality education he and his wife received.
“My parents never did have a lot of money. I never missed a meal, but we were not wealthy folks,” Bill said. “But the Lord has blessed us way beyond measure, and I’m so grateful. I felt a strong desire to give back to Baylor and to honor Avonnell.”