Independents

Mary Ball Gorman of Henry B. Ball Jewelers Dies at 99

IndependentsFeb 16, 2024

Mary Ball Gorman of Henry B. Ball Jewelers Dies at 99

Gorman was an industry trailblazer, serving as the first female treasurer of Jewelers of America.

Mary Ball Gorman of Henry B. Ball Jewelers
Mary Ball Gorman, industry trailblazer and owner of Henry B. Ball Jewelers in Akron, Ohio, died Wednesday at age 99.
Akron, Ohio—Mary Frances Ball Gorman, longtime owner of Henry B. Ball Jewelers in Akron, Ohio, died Feb. 14.

She was 99.

Gorman was born in Lakewood, Ohio, on Sept. 9, 1924.

At the age of 24, she joined her first husband, W. Henry “Skip” Ball, at his family jewelry business, Henry B. Ball Co. His father, Henry B. Ball, opened the store in 1915.

Gorman worked in the family store for nearly 70 years, collecting numerous titles and degrees throughout her tenure.

She received her Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America, and earned the titles of Registered Jeweler, Certified Gemologist, and Certified Gemologist Appraiser from the American Gem Society.

She also earned the title of Master Graduate Gemologist from the Independent Jewelers Organization and completed the International Society of Appraisers’ core courses.

“She was an authority in the industry, was often the only woman in a room full of men at national meetings, paving the way in a man’s industry, and rising to sole owner and president of the family business as a single mother of six in 1971 when her husband, Skip, died,” according to her online obituary.

In 1973, she married Tom Gorman, a diamond wholesaler. He died in 1979.

Gorman was a world traveler, visiting various mines in Tanzania, sapphire mines in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), opal mines in Australia, pearl beds in Japan, and diamond mines in South Africa.

She served on the boards of a variety of industry organizations including AGS, Jewelers of America, and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. In 1996, she was appointed to a three-year term as JA board treasurer, the first woman to hold the position. 

She was president of the Ohio Jewelers Association and the Ohio Guild of the AGS. 

She also served as AGS Conclave chairman from 1988 through 1993 and was a contributor to JCK magazine.

Gorman is survived by sons James Ball, Thomas Ball, and Robert (Patricia) Ball; daughters Barbara (John) Dietrich and Nancy (Patrick) Martin Looby; 13 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her two husbands, Skip and Tom; a son, Damian Ball; and her 12 brothers and sisters. 

A service will be held Feb. 22 from 10 to 11 a.m. at St. Sebastian Church followed by a burial mass at Rose Hill Burial Park. 

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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