100th birthday celebration for women in business pioneer Sarah Frances Ballance Campbell set Saturday
By Jim Turner

Posted on May 29, 2017 11:07 PM

When long-time Logan Countians think of women in business pioneers, the name Miss Agnes Davis usually comes to mind, because of her flamboyant “Lady in Red” style and her bequest of her home, the Bibb House, as a Memorial to the Old South. Miss Agnes has long been gone.

Her contemporary many of the years she was in business was a successful businesswoman who presided over a large business enterprise without fanfare and with little recognition.

That business baroness will be honored this weekend to commemorate her becoming a centenarian as she turns 100 years old.

Sarah Frances Ballance Campbell owned and operated Ballance Oil Company in Russellville from the unexpected death of her husband, Henry Bal;ance, in 1955 until she sold it in 1989.

She wasn’t just a gasoline distributor. She was a jobber. Her son Bob describes a jobber as a “wholesale marketer who buys and owns the product, hopefully to sell at a profit. A distributor is only receiving a commission for delivering oil-company-owned product from bulk plants. When my mother was in business, Ballance Oil Company was the only jobber in Logan County, owning product and wholesale and retail property.”

Mrs. Ballance raised two young sons while managing the business. Bob and Bill Ballance were outstanding football players for the Russellville Panthers, and Bob went on to play for the University of Kentucky. Ballance Oil sponsored football broadcasts on WRUS and was involved in countless community activities.

She was always—and still is—deeply involved in activities at First Baptist Church on South Main Street in Russellville. When the county had only one newspaper for many years, she was the one who regularly brought the announcements of church activities to be published.

She did this at a time most businesses—especially big ones—were run by men. A copy of a picture on file in the Logan County Collection at Logan County Public Library shows Mrs. Ballance in the center of her crew—all men, who included Lewis Hamption, James Wren, J.B. Hall, Earl Taylor, Floyd Stratton and Randy Cropper.

Sarah Frances, who is an Adairville native, remarried, but her second husband, J. Paris Campbell, died in September 1969. She has been a widow for almost half a century. Her younger son, Bill, who was also a businessman, died a few years ago. Her son Bob is involved in many community service activities in Russellville following his retirement.

A 100th birthday celebration will be held Saturday, June 3 from 2-4 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. 

Bob Ballance says, “We’re not going to be dancing and prancing at her reception, but lots of folks know her and may want to pay respects. It’s a whole lot better to do it this way than the way most folks get paid final respects. We may run out of cake. I hope we do.”

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