Joe Davis

Comments by Joe Davis ’80

"I urge you both, as you stand in the presence of god, to remember that love and loyalty alone will avail as the foundation of a happy and an enduring home,

no other ties are more tender,

no other vows more sacred than those which you now assume,

if these vows be kept inviolate

and you steadfastly seek to do the will of him who created us all, the home which you here establish, will abide in peace and love through every fortune."

It was 30 years and six months ago that Dr. Ball spoke these words of wisdom and advice to Sarah and me, words that have been guiding principles of our marriage and our home.

Dr Ball shared this same wisdom, whether these words, or a variation of them, with over 200 Whitman couples.  This wisdom set many of us on a path of marriage, family and life for which we dearly thank Dr Ball.

It was not only his words, however, that served as a guidepost to so many of us, but also his life with Nancy.  For anyone who spent more than 10 minutes talking with him, on topics other than school work, could not miss his devotion and loyalty. 

Hearing about their latest trek,

or a trip to visit one of their sons or relatives,

or the latest battle Nancy was waging to protect Walla Walla from senseless development --

-- one felt his pride, one felt their love.

Over the years, Dr Ball was not just the professor who married us, but with Nancy, George became a dear friend. 

Whether it be welcoming me, or Sarah and me, or our entire family into their home, on very short notice, during one of our visits to Whitman.

Or, always willing to have a chat in his office on any and all topics … including recently, counsel to me on one of the bigger challenges a Dad faces with his daughters – boyfriend issues.  Whether it be this specific situation, which was rather intense, or others, he always got to one simple message, "Joe, with you and Sarah to guide her, the right thing will work out, the pain will pass", and he was right.

Or, the wonderful words scribbled on the side of their Christmas letter,

and the truly heartfelt thank-you notes for the donations made to the Whitman programs in his name…

Dr Ball moved, over the years, from the professor who married us, to George, a friend (although I have to admit, to this day I struggle calling him George)

Let me close with some additional wisdom George shared at our wedding.

"We do not know why one human being is so strangely essential to the fulfillment of another, we only know that it is so, and the name for that fulfillment is friendship and love.

Friendship and love are not cultural accidents, nor are they chance mutations in man's long chain, without friendship and love, man remains but a clever animal,

and with them, a human being at last appears."

George/Dr Ball was a dear friend to so many of us. 

He truly embodied that human being who appears through the deepest of friendships.