Ann Ball, a prolific author who wrote lives of the saints alongside Catholic cookbooks, died of a heart attack shortly before midnight on Sunday, her family announced in an email.
Though a schoolteacher for many years, she later took over the operation of a security company. Following a regular workday, she would dedicate time to writing, penning several books on the saints and Catholic heritage and traditions.
Commenting on her industriousness, the president of Our Sunday Visitor, Greg Erlandson, told CNA that, "I was always surprised how she was able to run a private investigation office and still find time to write so many books that spiritually edified so many people."
In a short autobiography at Catholic Authors, the grandmother of eight wrote that curiosity about the saints led her into the Church and her career as a Catholic writer. She was especially interested in the life of Blessed Miguel Pro, the Jesuit priest and Mexican martyr.
“I find it horrifying that so few Americans realize the persecutions of the church that were right next door less than a lifetime ago. I find it equally sad that so few of our American Hispanic Catholics don't know about their own heroes,” she wrote.
She reported that her son, Sam, tells people “My mom is the only person I know who can write a cookbook one year and follow it up the next year with The Catholic Book of the Dead!"
Ball also wrote of her early forays into writing.
“I have always written things,” she said. “I remember getting up in the middle of the night when I was a child to scribble down a poem or little story. When Mama died, we found some examples of my earliest work among her papers. They were pretty awful.”
According to a biography on her web site, Ball also worked with the Basilian Fathers Missions, writing their newsletter and occasionally cooking a meal for visiting priests.
Reacting to the news of Mrs. Ball's passing, Erlandson said, "Ann Ball was a remarkable woman--biographer of saints and would-be saints, devotee of Catholic crafts and cookery, collector of holy cards and catholic memorabilia."
Erlandson also praised Ball: "She was a big-hearted, straight-talking Texan who provided so many U.S. Catholics with a window on the rich customs and traditions of Hispanic Catholicism. Her knowledge of that tradition was dwarfed only by her love for it."
"Ann Ball was one of the hidden treasures of our Church. It was an honor to publish her, and we will miss her dearly," OSV's president told CNA.
She is also survived by two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.