James “Mike” Ballard (1956–2023)\n\nJames Michael Ballard, 67, of Oro Valley, AZ, passed on October 31, 2023.\n\nHe was born on an army base in Ft. Sill, OK in 1956 to Jim and Mary Ballard. They settled in Atlanta, GA, where Mike attended Lakeshore High School. He married Nanette Armes in 1980, and in 1986 Mike moved his family to Ft. Worth, TX, to join the FAA as an Air Traffic Controller.\n\nMike was a loving father to his three children, Michelle (born in 1983), Brian (born in 1984), and Peter (born in 1990). He enjoyed fishing, and would often be found on Caddo Lake, Lake Ray Roberts, or Big Bend National Park on the weekends with his boys or with his best friend Hugh. He was an avid racing fan, enjoying Indy races both on TV and in-person at the track, and was a master at the art of tail-gating. He also loved cooking, and was especially talented at smoked barbeque. Many fond memories were made with family and friends on his back patio, with a cold beer in hand and the smell of smoked brisket swirling around.\n\nMike retired from his career as an Air Traffic Controller in 2015 and in 2017 moved to Tucson, AZ to be closer to his partner Dee Moore. The two of them enjoyed their retirement traveling all over the country in their travel trailer, taking cruises, and discovering Arizona. When home, they would hop in their golf cart in the evening to go on “safari,” driving through the golf course to spot local wildlife. His favorite hobby of late was caring for and watching all the birds that would come visit his ranch. \n\nMike will always be remembered for his love of the simple things in life, and we will miss him everyday. His memory will live on in the hearts of all those who loved him.\n\nMike was preceded in death by his father, James R. Ballard. He is survived by his partner, Dee Moore; his children, Michelle Poling, Brian Ballard, and Peter Ballard, as well as their spouses and seven grandchildren. He is also survived by his mother, Mary Ballard; his sisters, Kathy Cates and Peggy Ballard, and their spouses and children; as well as his dear lifelong friend Hugh Rhodes.\n\nA small family memorial service will be arranged at a future date. In honor and memory of his life, donations may be directed to the Tucson Wildlife Center (https://tucsonwildlife.com/ways-to-support/).