Dr. Bill and Merilyn Ballard were honored on Dec. 6 by the Billings Family YMCA with the 2012 Philip N. Fortin Award.
The Philip N. Fortin Humanitarian Award is bestowed upon an individual or couple by the YMCA Board of Directors in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished volunteer, civic and professional achievement which has improved the quality of life within the community. Originally established with the support of Mary Alice Fortin in 1981, the Y has honored community members for 32 years.
Past recipients include many of the founding leaders of philanthropy and community spirit: Russ Hart, Alberta Bair, George Selover, Ralph Nelles, Bruce Carpenter, Sam McDonald and recent award winners the Scott Family, Walt Stieg, Steve Corning and Mary and Bill Underriner.
Bill and Merilyn Ballard have impacted countless lives through their committed leadership and generosity, a news release said. The Ballards have been part of the Billings community since 1956, and have demonstrated the meaning of philanthropy through a life-time of service and giving. Although Bill is the more visible member in the community, Merilyn is his partner in everything he does.
Dr. Ballard established the geology department at Rocky Mountain College, and served on Rocky’s Board of Directors for more than 20 years.
He now serves as chairman of the Billings Clinic Board of Directors and is a major champion for advancing cancer care in the region.
The Ballards focus their philanthropy in the areas of higher education and health care, and have been passionate advocates for cancer care and cardiac programs.
They have also been significant donors to the RiverStone Health Foundation, and because of their passion for children’s programs, they have been major donors to the Yellowstone Boys & Girls Club Foundation.
“Bill and Merilyn have created a legacy of giving for the Billings community, by donating their leadership, guidance, and resources,” said Chief Executive Officer Tina Postel. She adds, “The YMCA is committed to building strong communities, and the Ballards exemplify that mission in everything they do; we are pleased to be able to honor them with this award.”