Richard Ballo has been a professional writer since 1980. Today he is an award winning author and popular national speaker on the topics of death and dying, grief, bereavement and healing.
It wasn’t always this way.
Richard attempted to write his first book at age 13. The subject was why man searches for his past. He wrote one page because that’s all he knew. He didn’t think about researching the topic. Of course, he was only a newly minted teenager and would later learn to greatly appreciate the value of research to strenghten his writing.
At the seasoned age of fifteen, Rich began writing poems to quell the angst of his teen experience which led him to his first published piece: a poem in his high school newspaper. The poem was about loneliness and he was scared of negative reactions. He received one positive comment and nothing else – not exactly thundering support for a budding author, but he was undaunted.
Richard went off to college to study music and when his grades didn’t live up to the work he was putting in, he switched his major to environmental science. He wrote articles on environmental issues for the college paper during his junior and senior years. He enjoyed writing his senior thesis on aquatic biochemistry pertaining to fish and their environs. He received an “A” for the paper but flunked out of school.
Undaunted, he entered the workforce to feed himself. He started working with computers and earned a technical diploma in Computer Programming and Operations. The programming job didn’t work out, but the operations end did, except at the accounting firm where he was fired.
He decided, at age 26, he had to find his life’s calling. So he isolated himself in a small, borrowed apartment in Boston, MA and read “What Color is Your Parachute” by Richard N. Bolles. The light bulb went off in his head and he decided to be a writer because that is what he enjoyed doing, but he knew being a poet wasn’t going to keep him fed.
Richard enrolled in the journalism program at Suffolk University in Boston, MA and worked whatever jobs he could find to make ends meet. During this time he wrote for the school’s newspaper, went broke, moved back to his parent’s house, met his future wife, Lisa, and started working seven days a week so he wouldn’t be broke anymore because being broke sucked.
He earned his B.S. degree in Journalism and Technical Communications from Suffolk while working as a computer operator, and married Lisa three months after graduation. Everything was looking good in his life. Three years later Richard decided to be the at home parent to take care of their two little boys. Shortly after becoming the stay-at-home-dad, Lisa was diagnosed with cancer. Crap!
Richard wrote articles for the local paper and started writing for national magazines and tended to the family. Three years later Lisa died. Double crap!
The only thing Richard could think or write about was the crappy experience of losing his wife. He wrote about his experiences, feelings, and anguishes and mailed them to his friends. Years later, this journal of healing became the award winning book Life without Lisa. “A page turner of a book”, the publisher says. Read it and you may say the same. The book won the Florida Publisher’s Associations President’s Pick award. Ricard traveled across the country and spoke to various groups about the book and his experience.
Richard continues writing and wrote the “Heart of Grief Relief Journal”, which won the national Living Now Award from the Jenkins’ Publishing Group. He intends to travel nationally and speak to many groups about journaling because it was so central to his own healing and wants to share how powerful a tool it is with as many as possible.
Richard finally went back to school and earned his MBA in Business Management from Hodges University in Naples, FL at age 60.
He remarried too. Woo hoo! After being a widower for 20 years the right woman walked into his life and he was finally able to see it. Richard and Terri are very happy. Woo hoo, too!
After a major struggle just to go on day to day after Lisa’s death, he finally healed to the extent that he was able to. Richard sought to live life fully after she died. He took flying lessons, coached middle school basketball, studied martial arts, learned to ride motorcycles and started a business. He and Terri rode their 2004 BMW motorcycle in South Dakota and Wyoming for their honeymoon. They saw where the buffalo roam and the deer and antelope play, and went horseback riding and dug for dinosaur bones and even found one!
Richard and Terri live life fully in Southwest Florida near their three children and three grandchildren.
Richard served nine years on the Board of Directors at Avow Hospice in Naples, FL, two years on Avow’s Physicians Advisory Board, and currently sites on Avow’s Spiritual advisory Board. Avow recognized Richard for his meaningful work at Avow and in the community by honoring him with The Butterfly Award during the annual Butterfly Ball.
Richard served six years on the Board of Trustees at Seacrest Country Day School with five of those years as Secretary of the Board.
He has been in Kiwanis since 1995 and has served as newsletter editor, a distinguished Secretary, and Past President. He is a founding member of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Collier.
Richard established the Richard Ballo Journalism Scholarship at his Alma Mata: Suffolk University in Boston, MA, and established The Melissa C. Johnson Nursing Scholarship at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft, Myers, FL.
Charities Richard Supports
Richard and Terri support Avow Hospice, The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Ft. Myers, the Greater Boston Food Bank in Boston, The Kiwanis Club of Greater Collier, and Kiwanis International.