Lucina Moxley Ball

Lucina Ball Moxley, granddaughter of one of the famed Ball brothers who founded the University, passed away on March 25, 2020, in Indianapolis. She was 101.

Lucina, who is the oldest living member of the Ball family, celebrated her 100th birthday at the same time that the University was marking its Centennial.

At Commencement in May 2019, she was given an honorary doctorate of arts for her accomplishments as a musician, educator, and patron of music performance and for her long service to the Muncie-based Ball Foundation.

“To celebrate her life and accomplishments during our Centennial was very special,” said President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “We are grateful to her and to the entire Ball family for their long-standing support.”

Several months before her passing, Lucina recalled memories of her life that were shared in Ball State University Alumni magazine’s special Centennial issue.

Born during Ball State’s infancy

“It’s exciting,” Lucina Ball told the Magazine in a Fall 2018 interview. “It’s remarkable to think I was a little baby at the same time the University was in its infancy.”

Lucina Moxley Ball, 1918
Her mother Agnes proudly holds Lucina, then 8 weeks old. Lucina became passionate about music, later performing as a pianist and teaching others. In Indianapolis, she was honored for her support of the performing arts.

During her interview, Lucina spoke about her childhood in Muncie, her later life—including her musical career, world travels, and the tragic loss of her surgeon husband in World War II—and her commitment to the Ball family legacy of philanthropy, cultural advancement, and public service.

Lucina was born on August 21, 1918, to William H. and Agnes Ball. Like the University’s Lucina Hall, she was named after the eldest sister of the five Ball brothers, Lucina A. Ball, a noted writer and educator.

Lucina Moxley’s father was the son of William C. Ball, one of five brothers who, in the 1880s, moved to Muncie and began manufacturing the glass home-canning jars that would make Ball a household name. In addition to founding Ball State, the family became benefactors of other Muncie institutions such as IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, the YMCA, and Minnetrista.

William C. Ball died of pneumonia when Lucina was 3 years old. “I understand he was a gentle, lovely, dear man,” she said of her grandfather.

A charmed childhood

With her parents and younger brother, William Jr., Lucina spent most of her childhood in the historic Westwood neighborhood in the large, Tudor-revival house built by her father, who was secretary and later vice president of Ball Corp.

Growing up as a Ball was a source of pride but also pressure. As a member of Muncie’s most well-known family, “I had to behave,” she said with a laugh.

She inherited a love for music from her parents, who both had beautiful voices and could play various instruments. When musical luminaries such as singer Jeanette MacDonald or pianist Arthur Rubinstein passed through Muncie, they often stayed with Lucina’s family.

Lucina began taking piano lessons at 4. Later in life, she became an accomplished pianist, working with many well-known musicians in Indianapolis and beyond.

Room big enough to roller skate

She spent her summers either at the family’s home on Indiana’s Lake Maxinkuckee or traveling. “We would fly to San Francisco. From there we would take the ship and go to Asia, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, and then come around through India.”

Some of her fondest memories trace back to the mansion belonging to her great-aunt and great-uncle, Ed and Bertha Ball. In childhood, Lucina was best friends with Ed and Bertha’s daughter, Janice.

Despite belonging to separate generations, the cousins were only three years apart and became inseparable. In her memoir, Lucina recalled the enormous playroom in the mansion’s top floor, big enough for bicycling and roller skating. “It was a wonderful room, and Janice and I played there for years, mainly with the doll houses.”

Family connections

In Muncie, Lucina went to Emerson Elementary. She attended high school at Tudor Hall School for Girls in Indianapolis. A 1939 graduate of Sarah Lawrence College near New York City, she also studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

In New York City, she met Edwin B. Eckerson. They married in 1940 and had two daughters, Ann, who died in the Fall 2018, and Judith, who remained close to her mother until her death. Edwin was killed during World War II in a kamikaze attack on the hospital ship where he was chief of surgery.

In 1948, she married Sam Moxley, who later became the owner of Haag Drug Stores, a prominent Indiana pharmacy chain. “We were married 40 years, and then Sam passed,” she said. “I never dreamed we’d have that much life together. We were very happy.”

“Strength of character”

A champion of the musical arts in Indianapolis, Lucina’s many contributions to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra include a 9-foot Steinway concert grand piano. The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra expressed its gratitude by performing a Leonard Bernstein tribute concert in her honor on October 14—a date that Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett declared Lucina Ball Moxley Day. She also served for 26 years on the Muncie-based Ball Foundation Board.

Lucina Moxley Ball at her piano
The oldest living member of the Ball family, Lucina Ball Moxley (above) taught and played the piano her whole life, teaching her final lesson at age 100.

Her daughters’ gilded-frame oil portraits, painted when they were children, were donated to Maplewood Mansion, the historic former home of William C. and Emma Ball. It’s a fitting place for the great-granddaughters’ portraits, which were painted by Bomar Cramer, an acclaimed artist, pianist, and instructor who taught Lucina piano for years at the Jordan College of Music in Indianapolis.

In addition to daughter Judith, Lucina is survived by four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

In her memoir, Lucina put in context the changes she’s seen in her life —a quote that also fits perfectly with the spirit of Ball State’s Centennial Celebration.

“Changes in social behavior and ways of life constantly fluctuate with historic events, scientific inventions, and time,” she wrote. “We can’t help but be different from our forefathers, but basic values and strength of character can remain the same.”