Earlier this week, former long-time Commission staff member Al Ballert passed away at the age of 95. It’s always sad to lose someone so close to you, but with Al’s passing the Great Lakes Commission in a profound sense, has lost a connection to its past.
Al by far, was the longest tenured staff person in Commission history. He joined the Commission in 1956; just a few months after the organization began, and was part of the Commission family for more than five decades. Over the years he served as director of research, interim director (twice), and as the unofficial Great Lakes Commission communications director and photographer.
He authored and was responsible for producing numerous publications, journal articles, newsletters and checklists. Almost up until his death, he maintained the Great Lakes Research Checklist, a bibliography of Great Lakes-related publications, and collected data on commercial navigation in the region. He was a well-known figure and friend to the Great Lakes maritime transportation community. He developed and maintained among the largest photo archives of Great Lakes vessels.
Al’s roots in the Great Lakes region ran deep. He was a native of northwest Ohio, received his bachelors degree from University of Toledo, his Masters from Syracuse and his doctorate from the University of Chicago. And although he never went to the University of Michigan, his second biggest passion (after the Great Lakes) was following University of Michigan football. The Commission presented Al with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its 50th Anniversary celebration in 2005.
The Commission (and the region) has lost an elder statesman, an avid historian and a great friend and we will miss him very much. Please remember Al’s wife Jo and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Contact: Tim Eder, Executive Director, Great Lakes Commission, email@example.com, office: 734-971-9135
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by James Tierney, assistant commissioner for water resources at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states.Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer programinvolving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.