April 10, 1936 - April 6, 2011

The Georgia Law community mourns the death of Milner S. Ball, who retired from the law school as the holder of the Caldwell Chair in Constitutional Law in 2007 after nearly 30 years of teaching and service. This 1971 Georgia Law graduate passed away April 6, 2011, at the age of 74.

Athens Banner-Herald Obituary 4/8/11

Milner Ball lived many different lives in one, Fulton County Daily Report 4/28/11

Athens Justice Project video 10/22/10

Georgia Law Faculty Profile


Please send your fond memories and condolences via e-mail to: hmurphy@uga.edu .

We will post selected e-mails to this Web page so all can share in the memory of this respected scholar, teacher and mentor.


Remembrances of Milner S. Ball:


"Prof. Ball's vision and support of UGA Law's dynamic public interest organizations, the Equal Justice Foundation and the Working in the Public Interest Conference ensures that he will be remembered for generations. His strident advocacy for folks without options and unable to help themselves epitomized the best training UGA Law has to offer its students and Georgia."

- Russell J. Edwards (J.D.'10)



Milner Ball was an amazing teacher, principled lawyer, student of the human condition, lover of food and wine and good times, stirrer-up of all manner of things, friend to the friendless, enemy of the wrongdoer, comforter to the powerless, champion of the poor, minister of the word, believer in the power and necessity of community, intellectual of the deep mysteries of life, and he maintained his dignity and sense of humor til the end which came hard, painfully and sadly.

I have never known anyone who cared more about the people around him, broadly defined, as Milner Ball, and who was willing to do the hard work, and inspire others to join him, in helping the weakest among us -- a minister of the word in the truest biblical sense. The many joys I shared with Milner included being his student and later his friend, grateful recipient of his mentoring and guidance, our many wonderful trips and adventures together and the honor and meaning attached to Milner baptizing our daughters.

He was a special person who believed in me early on, and that belief somehow meant that I believed it too. I owe him everything and I miss him and his laugher and wisdom and love.

- Bertis E. Downs IV (J.D.'81)


I was sad to read that my '72 law school classmate Milner Ball has passed. I remember him well as a brilliant student and colleague. With his religious background, we used to joke that, if he would only get an MD after his JD, he could marry a couple, deliver their babies, baptize their babies, write their wills, attend to them in their last illnesses, conduct their funeral ceremonies, and then probate their wills. He was, indeed, a man of many parts. 

Milner was a delightful fellow and a distinguished scholar.   He will be missed by all in the UGA community.

- A. Anderson "Andy" Vickery (J.D.'72) 

Professor Ball was, simply, a wonderful person, and I send my sincere condolences to his wife and family on his untimely passing.  What a loss for us but what a gain for Heaven.  As one of his Con Law students at UGA, I have great memories of his teaching.  But it was in his capacity as a Presbyterian minister that he generated my fondest recollection.  When I asked him to officiate at my wedding ceremony in Founders Garden in 1980 and told him my husband-to-be and I had been informed we could not have the wedding there, his response was "what are they going to do, throw us out of the garden . . . ?"  The ceremony took place, in the Founders Garden, on a beautiful October Sunday before our families and a few friends.  June graced us with her presence, too.  I had asked Milner to use the words "husband and wife" instead of "man and wife." Not only did he accommodate me, he pronounced us "wife and husband." What a dear. 

- Carolyn Woodruff Rogers (J.D.'81)

While I graduated the Law School in 1964, I did not meet Milner until our paths crossed as neighbors on a dirt road in the North Georgia Mountains. I first saw Milner as a flashing blur as he biked with vigor for long distance. I then learned that Milner was not only a respected Professor at the Law School but an ordained Minister and author.

Milner's books had a profound impact on me as I reflected on the many challenges and opportunities for a trial lawyer to blend morality and advocacy. Milner was passionate about land conservation and his sense of doing the next "right thing" applied equally to God's creations.

I often talked with Milner's wife, June, whose graciousness and love for Milner are so endearing.

I am grateful that my life's path crossed with Milner's. He was a gentlemen and a scholar.

- Richard A. "Rick" Katz (J.D.'69)

Professor Ball was  an intellectual giant, and a patient and gracious man who represented to me, a struggling third year student in his jurisprudence class in 1984, exactly the kind of lawyer that I aspired to be. I will never forget his kindness and compassion. I extend my heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family.

- Michelle Wilder Dodds (J.D.'85)

Professor Ball was foremost among a handful of professors who gave me a template for being in the legal profession.  Before I met him, I was almost completely disillusioned about law school and questioned whether I wanted to be an attorney.  His example showed me how to integrate my own reasons for entering the law into being a happy working professional.  Though we were years apart, I felt he was a kindred spirit.  I can never repay him for the value of his example.  But with these words, I memorialize my eternal gratitude.

- Gerald A. Ellis (J.D.'94)

I am proud to say that Milner was my teacher from 1982-1985.

We differed strongly on certain fundamental points, and agreed strongly on others. But agree or disagree, he never failed to be warm, kind-hearted, and extremely interesting and amusing.
My favorite anecdote is one that you certainly cannot print, but I'm going to tell it anyway because it makes me laugh. In Con Law we were reviewing Roe v. Wade. After he had elicited a description of the various penumbral emanations in which the court had found that the right of privacy included the right to abortion, he asked the class, "Well, what do you think about that?"  I raised my hand and he called me. I said "It's bull----." He responded, "Well, don't you think bull---- has more substance than this?"
I've just thrown my head back laughing out loud at the memory. What a guy! It was a privilege to have him as a teacher and I mourn his passing.

- Harry W. MacDougald (J.D.'85)

I just read about the passing of Prof. Ball.  He was so kind to my wife, Meredith McKay Ellard, who was a secretarial assistant to him while I attended law school (1977 - 1980).  She typed the manuscript for one of his books and always came home saying how wonderful he was to work for and with. 

- Daniel P. "Dan" Ellard (J.D.'80)


At one point early in my law school career, I saw Professor Ball at one of the great live music venues in early 1980s Athens. I thought to myself, this is not the usual ordinary law professor. Later on, a group of us would attend shows of the great bands of Athens with him.

I took a class from him later on in which he challenged us to not be afraid to rebel, even to shake up the law school environment itself.

This imprint stayed with me through the rest of law school, for four terms in the state legislature, and in my law practice.

I think his teachings affected me deeply, and I will forever be thankful.

Just last year, I was visiting with an old neighbor of mine on Normal Avenue who used to be the bass player in one of Athens great bands. He had another visitor, a friend around our age, who had his young daughter with him. 

At some point I began to tell stories about law school. I was surprised to learn that the little girl with us was the granddaughter of my late professor, Milner Ball. She was young and had only vague memories of him.

As I drove back to Ringgold, I hoped that the little girl understood what a great person and influence that her grandfather had been to me.

- McCracken K. Poston Jr. (J.D.'85)


I was the first recipient of a UGA Law Equal Justice Foundation grant. With it I clerked for Laurie Fowler, then of the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation and before her year earning her LLW and return to Athens to teach at UGA Law.

As co-chair of the Environmental Law Association, Lucy Phillips and I and the vastly expanded ELA folks convened the first annual Red Clay Conference.

Profs. Ball and Bertis Downs as teachers taught me all I needed to know as a lawyer.

Milner's Talmudic approach to the law and codes and finding answers, plus his required reading of Black Elk Speaks, changed my life. He also was the most interesting member of the faculty. I'll light a cigar to him. Again.

- Mike Boeck (J.D.'89)