Rhonda Ballou, 78, of Delmar, N.Y.


DELMAR — Rhonda B. Ballou, a longtime resident of Delmar, N.Y., died on Nov. 18, 2023, at the age of 78, following a series of illnesses. She was born on May 5, 1945, in Pittsburgh, Pa., the daughter of Albert A. Bartsch and Virginia (McKelvey) Bartsch. She attended the University of Michigan, where she received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Piano Performance.

As befits her training, a significant part of her life was devoted to using her musical skills. For nearly 30 years, she served her Lord as the organist at her church, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and before that she was the organist/choir director at the Slingerlands Methodist Church. For several years, she was the pianist for the Albany Symphony and at various times throughout her life performed publicly both piano recitals and as the soloist for piano concertos. One such performance was with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Starting in college and ending in her 70’s with the Jubilate Singers, she served as the rehearsal and performance pianist for various musical groups. She founded and was the first director of the Friendship Singers, a women’s choral group that continues to perform in the Albany area. For much of her adult life, she taught piano privately with as many as 35 students.

Another significant aspect of her life was volunteering. She was a trained hospice volunteer and assisted with patient care at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter’s Hospital for several years. For over two decades, she also volunteered in a variety of capacities at Good Samaritan Nursing Home. For several years, she organized and coordinated the packing of clothes for overseas shipment for the New York chapter of Orphan Grain Train, an organization dedicated to sending supplies to people around the world who are in need.

In Middlebury, Vt., where the family has a second home, she served Elderly Services Inc., an organization dedicated to helping senior citizens in a variety of capacities. She served on the Elderly Services Board and frequently led sing-alongs with the participants in the program. Most recently, she served as the librarian for her church library.

With her husband of 54 years, she engaged in a variety of activities. She traveled widely, both domestically and internationally. She visited the state capitols of all 50 states and also visited over 40 National Parks, from Maine’s Acadia to Alaska’s Denali. Her favorite international trip was a tour of Australia and New Zealand. She completed the Adirondack Quest, a program that requires at least one activity such as hiking or cross-country skiing in each of the Adirondack Park’s 30 regions. She enjoyed being involved with the maintenance of the Delmar property and especially the Middlebury property.

She was married on May 10, 1969, to her devoted husband Donald Ballou. She is survived by him; by her son, Jeffrey P. Ballou of Cambridge, Mass., (Lana Lee), grandson Jaedon L. Ballou; and by her daughter, Lisa S. Coetzee of Somerville, Mass., (Nicholas Coetzee), and grandson Cornelius P Coetzee. She is also survived by her sister, Cynthia Kniebes (Randy Kniebes), niece Emily Gafford (Scott Gafford) and two grand nephews.

A private burial service will be held prior to a calling hour at Bethlehem Lutheran Church from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25. A memorial service at Bethlehem Lutheran Church will follow. Contributions in Rhonda’s memory may be made to Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 85 Elm Avenue, Delmar, N.Y., 12054. ◊


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