|Mr Ballard's interest in Japan went back to 1911 or 1912, when he and Yoshio Shinkai met on their first day of school, shortly after the Shinkai family immigrated to the US. They remained close friends until Mr Ballard's death|
In part because of this friendship and in part because Seattle
businesses were trying to develop trade with Pacific Rim markets, Mr Ballard spent three months in Japan in 1928. Since he was 6'5" (tall for his generation) and often travelled by bicycle, he was an unusual sight there. He taught his daughter, Nancy, counting and some courtesy phrases in Japanese while he shaved in the morning, for the day that Nancy , as he hoped, would visit Japan with as much pleasure and interest as he had done.
During the war, Mr Ballard and some of his former teachers at Franklin High School were guarantors of the loyalty of some of his Japanese-American former schoolmates, who were released from internment between 1943 and 1945. Although many did not return to the coast, the children of some of these families were Nancy's schoolmates at Franklin from 1945 to 1949.