FRANKFORT — Former state Rep. Joseph Edward "Eddie" Ballard, D-Madisonville, died Tuesday morning at Regional Medical Center in Madisonville. He was 81.
Mr. Ballard was a member of the state House from 1987 through 2010. He also was chairman of the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee and was vice chairman of the State Government Committee.
Mr. Ballard, a self-employed businessman, decided last year not to seek re-election from the 10th House District in Hopkins County.
He served in the Air Force and was a member of the Madisonville Community College Advisory Board and Academic Boosters Board. He was the Hopkins County Democratic chairman for 12 years.
Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear had not heard about Mr. Ballard's death until told by the media. At a news conference Tuesday, Beshear called Mr. Ballard a "stalwart of his community."
Mr. Ballard served Hopkins County for decades and was a devoted local leader, Beshear said.
Beshear said Mr. Ballard was "a great friend of mine. I'll sure miss him."
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, called Mr. Ballard "one of the most authentic people I know."
"Of all of the memories he leaves behind, two stand out: No one was a bigger defender of those who have served our country, and no one could tell a funnier joke," Stumbo said via email.
Arrangements are pending at Barnett-Strother Funeral Home in Madisonville.