Michael Paul Ballas, age 84, of North Huntington, PA, passed away on September 21st, 2021 after a series of recent strokes and a courageous battle with cancer over the last 15 years. Michael was the beloved husband of Norma Lee Ballas for 58 years and loving father of Michael R. Ballas of Delaware and Mark Ballas of Alpharetta, Georgia. Michael was also survived by his brother Jack and wife Rita, sister Mary Elizabeth McCutcheon, brother, Paul and wife Jean.
Michael is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and numerous loving friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents Michael J. Ballas, Mary Vereb Ballas, his brother Daniel and wife Henrietta Ballas.
Mike was a proud U.S. Army veteran serving at Fort Knox, KY, from Oct. 1958 through May 1959. In 1961 Mike was recalled to active duty during the Berlin Crisis and served honorably at Fort Eustis, VA until 1962.
Mike’s professional career started as an Industrial Engineering Analyst at Union Railroad for four years, while he also received his A.S. degree in Management from Penn State University. Then moving on to Westinghouse Nuclear as an Engineering Administrator until 1966 when he began to work at Mine Safety Appliance Co. (MSA Safety).
Mike worked several years as a Factory Floor Supervisor at MSA until 1969 when he joined the Human Resources department where his career flourished. Progressing quickly within HR and the Pgh Operations, Mike ultimately became the Human Resource Manager for the Safety Products Division of MSA, a role he served in for 11 years until his retirement in August of 1999. Responsible for over 1,000 employees within numerous operations Mike was an innovator and implementor, driving positive employee relations practices and creating a world class environment for MSA’s people. He was well before his time in driving pro-employee initiatives such as an all salaried workforce, employee engagement surveys and flexible work hours to name a few. In 1986 Mike became a published author sanctioned by the National Association of Manufacturer’s (NAM) when he crafted “A Productive Alternative- Employee Assistance Programs”. This manual helped companies and HR practitioners recognize that off-the-job problems affect on-the-job performance, and that companies have a responsibility to assist people through “life issues” thereby creating a positive and more effective workplace.
Throughout his career Mike was active in many organizations (NAM, Westmoreland Manufacturer’s Association, Pittsburgh. Personnel Association, C.U.E.) and presented professionally at NAM and the University of Pittsburgh on topics such as Positive Labor Relations, Employee Assistance and Corporate Ethics.
Mike was an active member of St. Agnes Parish for over 50 years where he served on the financial committee as well as an usher. He was also a PTA participant and Band Parent at Norwin High School.
Mike will be remembered for his wit, wisdom and kindness to all he met.
Family and friends will be received at James W. Shirley Funeral Home located at 176 Clay Pike, Irwin, PA. 15642 on September 23rd from 2:00 – 4:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm. Words of Remembrance will be held on Friday, September 24th at 9:00 am in the funeral home. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Agnes Parish at 10:00 am. Interment will follow at St. Joseph’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (https://www.lls.org), in memory of Michael P. Ballas.
Originally published September 22, 2021.