BY HOPE HARRINGTON OAKES
Marsha Monaghan Ballard said she lives a full and rewarding life. The Aberdeen resident owns and operates a successful business, is a member of many civic groups and enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Ballard says she is happy to be so blessed with a life she loves.
Ballard, a native of Amory, married at a very young age,which was typical of the young women of the early sixties. Ballard stayed home and took care of her home and family. When her children began school, Ballard decided to go with them by getting her first job at the age of 26 as a teacher’s assistant. Ballard spent the next twelve years with the Aberdeen School System.
After substitute teaching for a couple of years, Ballard said she began her career in real estate. Ballard said her decision to enter theworld of real estate was a natural choice due to her familiarity with her ex-husband’s real estate business. A few years after she divorced, Ballard started her own company, Southern Realty and Management, out of her home in 1989.
“I’m on call 24 hours a day, and love every minute of it.” Ballard said.
Ballard is proud of the fact that her business has consistently been a “Million Dollar Producer” and that she has been voted Aberdeen’s Best Realtor many times in the local competition,“The Best of Aberdeen”.
Although Ballard is a modest woman, she is well known throughout the area for her volunteer work. One organization that she takes particular pride in being involved with is Safe Haven in Lowndes County. Ballard’s friend, Sharon Valsamakis, contacted Ballard about serving on the board of Safe Haven. She believed Ballard’s past experience as a former abuse victim would bring an invaluable perspective to the organization.
“I jumped at it,” Ballard said. “Oh yeah, I want to do this. People don’t realize about domestic violence and how widespread it is and how it used to be a big secret and you don’t tell anybody. I was that way. But it’s out there and if somebody doesn’t speak up for those people, or end abusive relationships, then they don’t know they have a choice.That’s the reason some of them stay, they don’t think they do have a choice. You think you’ll starve to death if you leave, which you’ll get to believe it if you hear it enough.I wanted to go back to school, but I wasn’t allowed to, because if I had gone back and done something, then I couldn’t be called ‘sorry and worthless’ and be controlled. Plus, as the case was with me, I thought to myself that I’d made a vow, and stayed because of the children.”
Ballard said it took her over twenty years, but she eventually started her new life and hasn’t looked back since. Her children both lead happy and productive lives. Deanie, her daughter, lives in Madison with her husband and son. Her son, Scott, lives in Wasilla, Alaska, and is the father of three.
“My children are my two best friends,” Ballard said.
Ballard has many awards and achievements under her belt. The Aberdeen chapter of the American Businesswomen Association’s named Ballard their “Woman of the Year” in 2000. In 2003, she was named one of Mississippi’s 50 Leading Business Women by the Mississippi Business Journal. Ballard has served on the Board of Directors for many organizations, including Blue Bluff Festival, Aberdeen Golf and Country Club, Aberdeen Animal Shelter, and the Aberdeen-South Monroe Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.
Ballard said she wanted her parents and children to be proud of her. She said she is proud of the fact that her father lived to see her become a success. She lives by the Golden Rule and the Serenity Prayer.
“Just be good to people, be good to yourself, make a difference,” Ballard said. “You can have a career, and work, work, work, but if you’re not helping someone else, it’s not worth it.”