Longtime stormwater designer and engineer Blake Ball retires from WithersRavenel
After 14 years at WithersRavenel and a more than 40-year career in the engineering and construction industries, Stormwater Engineer Blake Ball, PE, is retiring.
Blake’s interest in the profession started back in 1975. He had taken every science and math course available at his high school, and also had a passion for music. For Blake, the dream was to play saxophone in Doc Severinsen’s band on “The Tonight Show.” Blake’s mother had a different suggestion.
“We were driving home one day, and she pulled into the parking lot of an engineering firm near Fredericksburg, Virginia,” he said. “She said to me, ‘Why don’t you go in there and see if they need some summer help?’ So I was a high school summer intern for a small engineering firm and they let me do all kinds of stuff: surveying, a little bit of drafting, some coordinate geometry computations.
“That was what started it all.”
Blake went on to the University of Virginia and later worked in the construction industry before finding his way back to an engineering firm and later onto WithersRavenel. But what has kept him with our employee-owned firm is the people.
“The people at WithersRavenel care about the work, they care about providing a good product for their clients,” Blake said. “They care about doing things for the betterment of the public. And even as we have grown, I think that core mentality has stayed. The culture and the people are what has kept me here.”
After a long time spent as a designer and draftsman, Blake was motivated in recent years to get his professional engineer’s license. He enjoyed the opportunity to gain more responsibility and control while continuing to work on interesting projects for communities and clients across the state.
Some of his most memorable projects include working with WithersRavenel co-founder Sam Ravenel on the Lake Castleberry Dam rehabilitation, getting approval from the state’s dam safety group on their first submittal. He also enjoyed working on the firm’s award-winning downtown stormwater control measure (SCM) in Morrisville, which includes park amenities and a unique design.
In retirement, Blake’s plans include “making sawdust.” He has a shop out behind his house with a couple of bays, and he hopes to expand his woodworking skills and also take up car restoration. He’s enrolled in some college automotive classes to further those interests. Blake would also like to get involved in Scouting again; he served as a leader for many years when his son William was younger. He’s also involved with Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Clayton, playing music with the Praise Team and taking part in other activities.
Travel is on Blake and his wife Denise’s agenda, too. Blake loves the forests and waterfalls in Western North Carolina. Seeing some national parks in the West including Yosemite and the Grand Canyon is also in the works, along with checking out Chicago Cubs spring training in Arizona.
“We’ve been down to Jupiter (Florida) for the Cardinals a couple times cause I’m a Cardinals fan,” Blake said. “Denise is a Cubs fan, and I know that’s not supposed to work, but it does.
“I want to see the Cardinals play the Cubs at Wrigley. That is a bucket list thing. And just to enjoy more time with my wife.”
WithersRavenel wishes Blake well in retirement and his future endeavors!
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