Delbert "Bert" BallengeeJuly 22, 1924 ~ November 23, 2017 (age 93)
Delbert H. “Bert” Ballengee, 93, retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Southwestern Public Service Company, died on Thursday, November 23, 2017.
Memorial services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Monday, November 27, 2017 at Polk Street United Methodist Church with Rev. Kevin Deckard, Associate Pastor officiating. Burial will be private. Arrangements are by Schooler Funeral Home, 4100 S. Georgia.
Mr. Ballengee was born in Trinidad, Colorado and moved to Amarillo in 1924. He attended public schools in Amarillo and graduated from Amarillo High School in 1941. He served as manager of the Amarillo High School state champion football team in 1940. From 1941-1943, he attended Texas A&M College and Amarillo College prior to entering military service.
Mr. Ballengee served with the Headquarters Battery, 270th Field Artillery Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment, XX Corps, Third Army, in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. He participated in five major battles and campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Technical Sergeant in 1946. He was later commissioned in the U.S. Army Reserve and served as an instructor at the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma until his separation at the rank of Captain in 1962.
After the war, Mr. Ballengee enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He was employed in 1949 by Southwestern Public Service Company and held a number of positions in the accounting department until his appointment as Personnel Director in 1957. Four years later, in 1961, he was named Director of Data Processing and managed installation of the company’s first mainframe computer. He also played a key role in development of the first computerized general ledger, payroll, and customer accounting systems at SPS.
In 1972, Mr. Ballengee was promoted to Director of Finance, and then Vice President of Finance in 1973. He was elected Executive Vice President in 1979 and President in 1982. In 1986, Mr. Ballengee was elected Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, the first non-engineer to serve at that capacity in the company’s history. Within the industry, he served as a director and member of the finance committee of the Edison Electric Institute. In 1988, he was selected as of Business Week magazine’s “Corporate Elite,” and in 1989, he was named one of the top three utility executives in the United States by Financial World magazine for corporate performance among utilities with less than $1 billion in revenue.
Mr. Ballengee retired as Chairman and CEO of SPS after 40 years of service.
In 1982, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the original First National Bank of Amarillo and served in various capacities on that board until the bank was sold in 1993. He was later elected to the board of the new First National Bank of Amarillo in 1997, and served until that bank was sold in 2002.
In addition to his involvement in the utility and banking industries, Mr. Ballengee participated in numerous civic activities. Beginning with service on the Potter-Randall Citizens Committee in 1953, he served on the boards of directors of the Amarillo Area Foundation, the Amarillo Club, the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts of America, the Harrington Foundation, St. Anthony’s Hospital, and the United Way. He held a number of leadership roles including Chairman of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of St. Anthony’s Hospital, and Chairman of the United Way of Amarillo, as well as Vice Chairman of the Amarillo Area Foundation. In recognition of his contributions to the community, he was elected to the Sandie Hall of Fame in 1985, an honor reserved for distinguished graduates of Amarillo High School. In his later years, Mr. Ballengee continued his interest in the ARTS in Amarillo. He served on the boards of The Lone Star Ballet and the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation. He valued his memberships in the Amarillo Symphony, the Amarillo Opera, and Chamber Music of Amarillo. He believed that art is the signature of civilization and breathes life into our communities.
Mr. Ballengee joined Polk Street United Methodist Church in 1956, and held a number of lay positions within the church, including service on the Administrative Board and Board of Trustees, and Chairman of the Stewardship Committee. He taught the Maverick Sunday school class for 17 years and was an active member of that class at the time of his death.
He married Fern Brannen of Amarillo in 1956. She preceded him in death in 2001. He later married Marlies Ruhfus Hatchett of Amarillo in 2005. Survivors include his wife, Marlies; a daughter and son-in-law, Ann Claire Carlson and J. Scott Carlson and their children, Susanna Brannen Carlson and John Hayden Carlson, all of Dallas, TX; a son and daughter-in-law, Ben Brannen Ballengee and Barbara-Marie Mason and their daughter, Kathryn Mason Ballengee all of Albuquerque, NM; and Marlies’ children, Katinka Howell and husband John of San Antonio, TX and Frank Ruhfus and wife Pushpa and their children, Arun and Ajay Ruhfus all of Houston, TX.
The family suggests memorials be made to the Amarillo Symphony, 1000 Polk Street, Amarillo, TX 79101; Amarillo Opera, PO Box 447, Amarillo, TX 79178; LoneStar Ballet, 3218 Hobbs, Amarillo, TX 79109; Olivia’s Angels, PO Box 950, Amarillo TX 79105; or Polk Street United Methodist Church, 1401 Polk Street, Amarillo TX 79101.
Online condolences may be shared at www.schoolerfuneralhome.com.