Bob Ball got a call in October 1978 from his Masons friend Judge Don Moore asking if he wanted to start a new career. He said he did, and his stint as a court officer has lasted until this coming Thursday.
That will be his last day as a court officer. He has served under Criminal Court Judge Don Poole since 2005. Before that it was under Steve Bevil for "15 years, two months and 16 days" and before that Russell Hinson for six years.
He's been busy over the past few days training his replacement, Gary Bender.
Mr. Ball noted he was born in Hereford, Tex., and grew up at Tucumcari, New Mexico. His dad had a drug store and newstand.
He went into the Air Force and was stationed at Mobile with Chattanoogan Wally West. West invited him to see his hometown and there he met West's sister, Liz. "I've never forgiven him for that," he quips. Bob Ball and Liz West were married, and they chose to make Chattanooga their home.
He ran Bob Ball Realty for six years before the call came from Judge Moore, whose duties had suddenly switched from executive to judicial with a change in county government.
"I was glad he called," said Mr. Ball, who took a liking to his new career. And he and Judge Moore played golf every afternoon following the close of court.
"I've enjoyed being around the people at court," he said. He hugs many of the female attorneys and slaps his male attorney friends on the back.
And there have been some major cases - most notably the trial of Duane Kiser for the murder of Deputy Donald Bond. "That happened about a mile from where I live," Mr. Ball notes.
"But I hate to see all the young people who have gone wrong," he says.
He said the only reason he is stopping is because "I can't walk as well as I should and I can't hear as well as I should."
He adds, "Judge Poole has the best clerk, the best secretary and the best court reporter. He deserves to have the best bailiff too."