Skip to content

Obituary – Dr. Donald J. Balch



 
Dr. Donald J. Balch passed away peacefully at the University of Vermont Medical Center on May 13. He was born in Hanover, N.H. on July 15, 1922. He was the son of Ralph and Mareta Balch. He grew up on a small dairy farm in Lyme, N.H. and graduated from Hanover High School. He was attending the University of New Hampshire when, at age 20, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Donald served with the 121st Calvary reconnaissance squadron as corporal and section leader. He was in combat during the Battle of the Bulge and through Germany, and was among the first to liberate the concentration camp at Dachau. Donald was awarded 4 battle stars, the Victory Medal and the French Fouragere.
He had met Mary Sawyer just prior to leaving for the service. After his discharge, they reconnected and were married on Easter Sunday, 1946. Donald returned to U.N.H. on the G.I. bill and completed his Bachelor and Master degrees. He worked for 2 years as assistant herdsman at Hycrest Farm in Massachusetts. It was the largest purebred Brown Swiss herd in the country.
In 1952 he accepted a position at the University of Vermont and settled his family in Underhill. He taught animal science courses, was Extension Livestock specialist for the State of Vermont and directed the Morgan Horse Farm breeding program. In 1962 he completed his PhD. in animal genetics. Now his work became more focused on developing the Morgan Horse program and farm. Donald loved the farm and the beautiful horses and through his dedication the farm and program evolved from a state of near extinction to a National Historic Site and a source of pride for Vermont. Dr. Balch succeeded in producing outstanding championship quality horses, began the Volunteer Apprentice Program, and did much fundraising to help make the farm self-sufficient.
In 1964 he was named "Man of the Year" by the American Morgan Horse Association. Don was a respected show judge and author of many articles. In 1988 he was inducted into the American Morgan Horse Association's Hall of Fame. Donald officially retired from UVM in 1985. He was honored again in 2000 by a special dinner in Northampton, MA. An auction was held which raised considerable funds to "kick start" the Balch endowment for the farm and program. He was also inducted into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2005. Dr. Balch touched many lives during his career and beyond. He was admired, loved and respected by those who knew him.
Donald was predeceased by his beloved wife, Mary, in 1993. He is survived by his son, Brian and his wife Diantha of Waltham, VT, his daughter Brenda Charron and her husband Lee of New Haven, VT, his granddaughter Kristin Blier and her husband Kevin, of Brandon, VT, his grandson Kevin Charron and his wife Jamie of Barron, Wisconsin; five great-grandchildren, Aidan and Collin Blier, Mary Anna, Logan and Kolby Charron. He also leaves an older brother, Charles and his wife Mertie, niece Priscilla Power, nephew Russell Balch, all of Lyme, NH. Mary's nieces Ruth Allsop, Marie Ames and nephew Gerald Ames were also important in his life. Don loved his family and friends and will be greatly missed.
We thank the team at the Medical Center Shepardson 4, Laura Nelson from "Home Instead", Dr. Peter Gunther and Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen for their compassionate care. We also thank Dave and Irene Kelly, Bill and Bev Frank, Tracy Wright, Roland Burroughs and all his caring and helpful friends.

There will be a celebration of Don's life Wednesday, June 8th at 11:00am at the United Church of Underhill. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the United Church of Underhill, 7 Park Street, Underhill, VT 05489 or the UVM Morgan Horse Farm, 74 Battell Drive, Weybridge, VT 05753.

 

More Stories

  • NWSA Fall Classic Selects Judge

    The Northwest Saddlebred Association Fall Classic Horse Show has named Bill Waller to be the judge for this year’s show. The event is scheduled for Sept. 19-22, 2018 at the Oregon Horse Center in Eugene, Oregon. Read More
  • Freedman's Announces Release of New Saddle Pad

    Freedman’s is proud to launch their newest product, The Freedman Acavallo Memory Foam Gel Pad. The Freedman Acavallo Memory Foam Gel Pad is a full compression, non-slip pad, specifically designed to fit discreetly under Freedman’s cut back saddles... Read More
  • Far West Morgan Regional Joins Country Classic

    The Far West Morgan Regional Championship Horse Show has big changes in store for participants in 2018. Last year Far West was held in conjunction with the Oregon Morgan Classic at the Oregon Horse Center in June. Read More
  • River Ridge Charity Selects Judging Panel

    River Ridge Charity is fast approaching and is scheduled for Wednesday through Saturday, April 25-28, 2018 at the Ohio Exposition Center in Columbus, Ohio... Read More
  • ASHA Welcomes New Directors For 2018

    The American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) is pleased to announce the election of seven (7) new members to its Board of Directors, who will join the Board at the UPHA & ASHA Conference, which will host the ASHA annual meeting on February 1, 2018. Read More
  • David L. Howard to be Honored for Lifetime Achievement

    The American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) has announced its annual award recipients, based on ballots tabulated by the ASHA Board of Directors. Nominees for each award are received from the general membership and committee volunteers, screened by the ASHA Executive Committee, and voted on by the full Board from the candidates selected. Read More
  • Iowa Horse Shows Associations Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet

    The Iowa Horse Shows Association will hold their annual meeting and awards banquet on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at The Prairie Meadows Event Center, Altoona, IA. Events begin at 3:30 PM with the annual membership meeting of the Iowa Horse Shows Association followed by the Iowa American Saddlebred Association meeting. At 5:30 PM the American Saddlebred Futurity of Iowa will hold their Stallion Service Auction. The Banquet and Awards ceremony will begin at 7 PM. Read More
  • 2018 AMHA Convention Schedule

    Come celebrate Valentine’s Day with your favorite breed and those who share the same passion as you at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington, Kentucky, for the 2018 AMHA Annual Convention and Awards Gala... Read More
  • Jubilee Regional Morgan Horse Show Takes Hiatus for 2018

    Due to continued uncertainty at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, the committee for the Jubilee Regional Morgan Horse Show has voted to take a one-year hiatus from hosting the show traditionally held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield at the end of August... Read More
  • ASHA Breed Ambassador Program

    The American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) is pleased to announce the third annual ASHA Breed Ambassador Award winners. Read More