Celebrating life stories...



Memorial created 02-28-2015 by
Art Cook
Thomas Coast Ball
December 5 1950 - January 28 2015

Tom in Fairbanks, Alaska

This permanent online memorial was created in loving memory of Our dear Thomas "Tom" Coast Ball, for his Family and his many many Friends. Tom was taken from us much sooner than any of us expected. Some of his life story is told throughout this memorial website. Please add to that by recording some of your own memories of Tom here! If you'd like to create your own page contact art.... Please sign Thomas's guest book and let us know you came to visit. We miss you Tom!


Tom the Chef!

Tom was born and raised in the small community of Wellsville, New York. Tom graduated from Wellsville High School in 1968. He attended Oklahoma State University for two years before serving the United States Army in Alaska between 1971-1977. Tom loved interior Alaska and decided to stay and make his life there after his military service. Tom worked on the North Slope as an air traffic controller during the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. For several years in the 1980's and into the 90's Tom worked for the 'House of Wood' Art Gallery in downtown Fairbanks where he became very knowledgeable of and acquainted with prominent artists and their works. In the mid 1990's, Tom accepted a position with Immaculate Conception Church as manager/cook of the 'soup kitchen' feeding Fairbanks' hungry and homeless. Working under Father Drew, he had a huge kitchen and dining hall in the basement of the church where he would put his cooking talent to good use. That was one of the most rewarding jobs Tom ever had and he often spoke of it. I remember visiting just about every weekend and it was truly amazing to watch. There were no strangers there! Tom knew every person by name. He treated them as he would any of his close friends. He would make the rounds as they were eating asking "well, what do you think? Is it fit to eat?".


In the 1996 Tom purchased two vans from a tour company and began offering daily runs to Denali National Park from both Anchorage and Fairbanks. Over the next 8 yeas, Parks Highway Express/Alaska Trails became very successful expanding into 7 buses, and daily routes that spanned the State and into the Yukon. Each year we would purchase a new bus or van in Seattle and drive it up the Alaska Highway to begin a new season. We did that trip so many times. But we always made it an adventure, many times taking along friends, camping along the way. One of the highlights was stopping at what Tom considered the best hot springs in the world "Liard Hot Springs on the British Columbia/Yukon border. Over the many years we had many adventures and good times all of us... dinners constantly at someone's house - Toms, Chris', Claudes... always a dinner or a get together. Trips to the cabin or the hot springs or just a drive up to Hilltop for lunch .. oh and several fishing trips.


Tom and Art picking up Passengers

In 2004 Tom moved back to Wellsville to help take care of his mother until she passed away on Christmas Day 2014 a little more than a month before Tom. Tom's family honored me with the care of Tom's Ashes. Together Tom and I drove from Wellsville to Seattle. Tom rode shotgun the entire way. It was reminiscent of a trip we did together in 2002 from Key West to Seattle, Only this time I got to do all talking and singing! Toms family and many of his friends made the trip to Fairbanks in June of 2015. We had a wonderful celebration of his life at the Hostel. The next day we drove 30 miles up the Steese. It was a picture perfect summer day along the banks of the Chatanika where we gathered to spread his ashes. What I remember most were his ashes not spreading out in the moving water, but rather maintaining a straight path down the middle of the river for as far as one could see. It was hard to see him go, but confident that this was the place he would like to be. After all the noise...How long will it be, after you die, before the last living person who knew you also dies? And when there is no one left living who remembers you, what will your life mean then ... after all of the noise? Hopefully this memorial will help provide an answer. Please feel free to leave a bit of your memories, it will make a difference to the generations yet to come, who seek to know their family and ancestors.


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