Isabel Hughes - Delaware Online
Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen Ballard loved Halloween.
It was fitting, then, that on Oct. 31, officials voted to rename the road leading to Troop 2 in Glasgow from LaGrange Avenue to Cpl/1 Stephen J. Ballard Way.
"I chuckled when I (heard) that," Ballard's widow, Louise Cummings, told a packed room inside Troop 2 on Thursday at a ceremony to dedicate the road to the slain officer.
Cummings again chuckled when she realized the dedication ceremony was held on Jan. 9, which is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
"It's such a happy and sad day, at the same time," Cummings said. "I'm inspired to have his name on the street sign hanging over Route 40, where all the tragedy happened."
Ballard, who served with Delaware State Police for about eight years, was gunned down at the Pulaski Highway (U.S. 40) Wawa in Bear on April 26, 2017, when he stopped to check on a suspicious vehicle.
The car's passenger, Burgon Sealy Jr., jumped out and began firing at Ballard, who tried to run for cover.
Sealy Jr. continued to fire rounds into the trooper before fleeing to his family’s Middletown-area home, where, following a standoff, he was shot dead by police 21 hours later.
Though the tragedy shook the state, Cummings said good came out of it, too.
Her husband's death inspired her to establish a fund that each year offers a grant to local nonprofits focused on issues such as children in need, education and domestic violence.
She also established Ballard's Reading Buddies, a program in which community members — including law enforcement officers — go into local schools and read to children.
It's an important program, Cummings said Thursday.
"These children now see a good connection (between law enforcement) and the community," she said. "They see police officers and they don't get afraid or say, 'They're here because something bad is happening.'
"They're looking at (the officers) as friends, they're looking at them as someone who is helping them learn how to read, learn how to love, and who is taking time out of their day to be with them."
That's what Ballard would have wanted, Cummings said. It's also what she hopes people remember when they see the new Ballard Way sign.
"When someone dies, sometimes the good things they did die with them," Cummings said. "For me, this is showing that they won't. It'll allow people to know about him and know about his sacrifice."