SOE News

Professor Emeritus Hunter Ballew, mathematics educator, dies at 78

Photo of Hunter Ballew

Hunter Ballew

Hunter Ballew, who served on the faculty of the School of Education from 1962-2003, died on March 11, 2010, at age 78. Throughout his 41-year career as a professor of mathematics education, he remained dedicated to inspiring future teachers.

In addition to his teaching, Ballew provided leadership in the School of Education by serving as chair of the Division of Curriculum and Instruction, coordinator of the Master of Arts in Teaching Program and editor of The High School Journal. He helped develop and served as the founding director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education. He also helped develop the Lyndhurst Fellowship Program to attract liberal arts graduates into teaching.

His extensive publications included the widely used book, Teaching Children Mathematics, published in 1973.

The North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics honored Ballew in 1997 by bestowing upon him their highest award, the W. W. Rankin Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education. The award recognized his outstanding contributions to mathematics education in North Carolina.

His former colleagues remember Ballew with high regard and deep affection. Professor Emeritus Sterling Hennis recalls, "I have known Hunter as a very dear friend, a devoted colleague, and ─ would you believe ─ a student in one of my classes. Anita and I have considered ourselves to be a part of Hunter and Kit's family, watching Allison and Meredith become wonderful young women with families of their own. Our youngest daughter even wanted Hunter to wait for her to grow up so she could marry him."

“I have never known a kinder, more gentle or more caring person than Hunter. He truly will be missed in a world that sorely needs his intelligence, compassion and concern.” 

Ballew was one of the true intellectuals of Peabody Hall, says Professor Gerald Unks. “I never encountered a subject about which Hunter did not know something. Be it how to spell Likert, to John Dewey’s position on learning theory, to the workings of an LED digital watch, Hunter was a brilliant source of information,” says Unks.

“I will miss him. I never spent even five minutes with Hunter when I didn't learn something. He was always teaching me.”

A North Carolina native, Ballew began his undergraduate studies at Pfeiffer College (now Pfeiffer University) in Misenheimer, N.C., where he served as president of the student body. He completed his undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953 with the academic distinction of membership in Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to earn two graduate degrees from the School of Education ─ a Master of Education in 1958 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1965.

Before coming to Carolina, Ballew taught at Longwood College in Farmville, Va., and was a high school mathematics teacher in Metairie, La. He served with the U.S. Navy as a Naval officer and meteorologist from 1953-57.