Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Local News

September 10, 2010

Picture a reminder of sacrifice

CENTERVILLE — If only a picture could talk, what would it say?

It was Aug. 28 when Brandie Ballanger, of Centerville, saw the framed collage-style picture of her husband Jesse. The picture shows him in his military dress uniform while attending the Memorial Day service at Oakland Cemetery in Centerville.

The more than $200 framed picture by Pam Houser, of Exline, was one of several the professional photographer had for sale at her booth during Restoration Days in Albia.

Aug. 28 turned out to be a day of tears, gratitude and homecoming for one Centerville family.

It all started when Rodney Ward, the Ballanger's boss at Ugl-Unicco in Eddyville, saw the picture at Houser's booth, asked if she knew her subject and when Houser said no, he called Brandie and told her to get to Albia.

"So I went up there and I was walking around and I come around a corner and I stood there and I started crying," Brandie said. "That was a picture of him, obviously."

Houser noticed Brandie and asked if she knew the man in the picture.

"And I said, 'Yes, it's my husband, Jesse Ballanger.' And then I told her a little history about him," Brandie said. "About how he had been deployed."

Houser said her intent was to give away the picture to the man's wife or family if she ever found out who they were.

"I didn't know who he was but I liked my picture and I kept saying that if I ever found his family I was just going to give it to them, because it was the kind of picture (they) would be proud of and they should have it," Houser said.

The retired school teacher turned professional photographer stayed true to her word and gave Brandie the picture. Houser also thanked her for Jesse's service.

"I'd be honored for you to have this picture because I appreciate all that he's doing for our country," Houser said. "She was very taken by that and said, 'What can I do for you?' And my response was, 'You've done enough. You gave up your husband for a year to fight for our country and that's enough for me.'"

Houser said she focused on the then unknown man at the Memorial Day service at Oakland Cemetery because he was "a striking young man in his dress uniform."

The picture of Jesse can be seen at and soon will be on display at the Continental at St. Joseph's in Centerville. The Monroe County Art Society copy is on display at White Oaks Gallery in Albia.

Now Brandie and her children, Cody, 2, Jaylene, 6 and Tyler, 4 have a reminder of the most important man in their lives hanging on the living room wall while he serves overseas in Afghanistan.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

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