Area constable who lost battle with COVID-19 was caring, compassionate and ‘gave great hugs’

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 2:07 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2021 at 10:15 AM CDT
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CORSICANA, Texas (KWTX) - Family and friends are speaking out after an area law enforcement officer died from a three-week battle with COVID-19.

Raychaun Ballard, 46, died Saturday after contracting COVID-19 around July 26, just days after winning a “Dancing with the Stars”-style competition at Navarro College.

“We just guess that heaven needed a constable,” said Samara Ballard, Raychaun’s beloved wife.

After a more than 24-year-long career with the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office, Ballard had been the Precinct 2 Constable for just seven-and-a-half months when he passed.

“It’s really painful that such a big strong man like himself, with so many years of public service, would succumb to that,” said Sheriff Elmer Tanner. “The one thing I can say about Raychaun, is during the course of the day you were going to see him smiling, and joking and cutting up, so that’s the way I choose to remember him.”

On Wednesday the Navarro County Detention Justice Center building was decorated in blue ribbons, and there was a large floral display in the lobby, in honor of Ballard’s service.

Tanner said it’s hard to lose officers this way, especially ones like Ballard.

“This COVID is a new situation, it’s something you can’t see coming,” said Tanner.

Ballard’s wife says he wasn’t feeling good and came home from work then went to sleep.

“Over the next few days I just couldn’t keep him nourished, I couldn’t keep him hydrated, and I figured we needed help so I took him to the hospital,” she said. “He stayed there and they were going to dismiss him, but they wanted to make sure his sodium was higher than it just kind of escalated from there...eventually to progressive bilateral pneumonia.”

Despite the circumstances, Ballard’s wife says she feels at peace.

“I know he’s in a better place, and I’m ok with that,” said Samara Ballard. “God has given me strength that I can’t understand or explain.”

Ballard was infected with COVID-19 at the same time as her husband.

She says neither of them got the shot, however, she stands behind their decision.

“God didn’t take my husband’s life because he wasn’t vaccinated,” she said. “He was unsure, there just wasn’t enough information for him to make that decision.”

And she feels strongly it was his decision to make.

“We are in America, we are free to make our own decisions, and that’s a personal preference, and we had people who fought for our rights to make our own decisions, and for people who can’t respect that, I’m sorry they feel that way, but you even have the right to not respect it,” said Samara Ballard. “Vaccinated or not, I still love him, he’s still my husband, and he has a right to make his own decision, so I really appreciate people that actually respect his decision, I would never push my own personal beliefs on somebody else.”

She says her husband was very well respected in his field, and the outpouring of support has made that clear.

“People cared about him and it shows, and that has helped me also, I draw strength from that.” “He was caring, he was compassionate, he gave great hugs, he was so even tempered, I will miss absolutely everything about him.

Samara had a message for her late husband.

“I’ve gone a bone to pick with you, I love you but I’ve got a bone to pick with you but we’ll hash that out later up there, and I miss him and I love him dearly always,” she said.

The couple has two children together.

They got to say goodbye to their father Friday night when he was in a medically induced coma at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.

He had to be flown to that hospital from UT Health in Athens after they found a blood clot.

“He had emergency surgery and after that he took a dive,” said Samara Ballard. “I still had hope, we had a strong faith in God, but I was mentally preparing at that point.”

Although he didn’t survive, she praised the medical team.

“They did everything they could and I’m forever grateful for that,” she said. “It’s never enough time to say goodbye, but I’m very grateful though that we had the time to say goodbye to tell him that we love him and that his whole family loves him.”

Friends said Ballard was adored and will be missed.

“My last memory of Raychaun was at the ‘Dancing for Our Stars’ event a few weeks ago; his mother-in-law, like all of us, adored him, she called him the German word for ‘shooting star’...she was right,” said Christy Mejia Huffman. “He burned so brightly, illuminated our lives, and his time here was fleeting.”

Visitation for Ballard is from 5-9 p.m. Friday at Corley Funeral Home in Corsicana.

A celebration of his life is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Northside Baptist Church in Corsicana with burial to follow at Woodland Cemetery.

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