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In Memory of D. Bret Ball

on December 10th, 2005 | Filed under Optoblog

A friend and classmate of mine, Bret Ball, died yesterday, December 9, 2005 in his home. He was diagnosed with cancer 10 months after we graduated from optometry school. He went through many treatments, but the Lord saw fit to call him Home. He will be greatly missed, and I pray for his wife and family.

I first met Bret while in undergrad. It was outside the biology complex. Him and Nate (another PUCO 2003 classmate) are good friends, and I talked with both of them about optometry school aspirations. The first semester of opt school, there were 4 of us “Idaho Boys” that sat next to each other in the front row. I routinely sat next to Nate and Bret through most of opt school. We studied and practiced together. I was part of the crew that helped him move into a different apartment. He helped my family move when we left Oregon. We ate ribs, Bret’s favorite, to celebrate the end of a semester. Bret and Rachel have left many positive memories with my family. They are true friends.

I can say without hesitation that Bret was a very good man. He was a man of faith, family, and friends. He was also one of the smartest in our class. While the field of optometry has lost one of its rising stars, his impact will most be felt with family. I would ask any of you reading this blog to pray for Rachel and the kids and help the Ball family in any way you can.


2 Responses to “In Memory of D. Bret Ball”

  1. David Langford says:

    Bret Ball’s sister e-mailed me the following and gave me permission to share this with you all on the web site.:

    Brenda Taylor (Bret Ball’s sister) wrote:
    Hi David,

    Thank you for your kind words on the blog; I will share them with my family. I am Bret’s sister, Brenda (law student at Univ. of Ariz). Julene, your classmate, was at his service yesterday. My husband and I are setting up a 529 college savings plan for Bret’s children: Nick (7) and Jessie (3). Anyone can contribute to the account. It is for educational expenses only, which means the children can’t run off and buy a new car instead of going to college. My e-mail is ******. If you will send me your information, I can give you the details and I would love to here more about my brother’s days in optometry school.

    Bret’s passing was truly tragic and upsetting. I will never forget the day he told me he had Stage IV malignant melanoma. Although he has passed, he is a miracle. 94% of Stage IV melanoma patients die w/in 6 months of their diagnosis. Bret lived 18 months beyond his diagnosis. The cancer treatment staff at UCLA called him “The Wonder Boy.” Bret was determined to fight cancer and practiced optometry until August 2005. Malignant melanoma is the 6th most common cancer among men, and 7th among women. Although regular visits to the dermatologist can help early detection, Bret’s cancer was different. There was no primary site, and it was not necessarily caused by sun exposure (Bret & I talked about this often). Melanoma can first appear in places such as the intestine or eye (as I’m sure you know). It is an awful disease, commonly taking the lives of men in their late 20’s, early 30’s. No one should ever have to go through such a traumatic, catastrophic illness. I hope they find a cure.

  2. Henry Schmidt says:

    A fellow classmate of Bret’s, Shane Wynn, called me just before Christmas to tell me of Bret’s passing. My prayers are extended to all of the Ball family.

    I first met Bret when he was a student at Pacific University. The owner of the company where I was employed made it a practice to hire Pacific students to help us during busy periods. Bret came to work for us when his class schedule allowed, during semester breaks and sometimes during evening hours. So in addition to being a husband,father and student, Bret was also an employee in a manufacturing company.

    Bret’s duties were many and varied. Sometimes he worked in maintenance and landscaping. He shipped finished product and received raw materials. He could change hats and work organizing the company library or program computer systems to organize the MSDS system. He was always available to determine formulas and blend materials. Bret would have two responses when asked to complete a task. First, he would always smile. Secondly, he would always say “consider it done.” I have worked for over 35 years in different work environments and with a variety of employees; Bret was a special employee and to work with him was a joy.

    Bret’s Faith seemed to define him as a man. Bret never raised his voice in anger or had a harsh word for anyone. A conversation with Bret always had a kind word or a positive reflection. Stressful situations at work only seemed to make him more calm and resolved. He was genuinely humble, but so intelligent. To me, Faith and family seemed to be Bret’s source of inspiration and direction.

    Again, my prayers to the Ball family, especially his wife and children. I hope prayers from everyone will give you lasting comfort and peace.