Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 24, 2014

Dog finds ribbon from balloon that floated 200 miles from Kentucky

BLUEWELL — A Mercer County man who had taken his dog on a walk in the woods near his Bluewell home Sunday afternoon became concerned when he saw his dog, Ross Parker — an English setter mix, carrying a pink ribbon in his mouth.

“I was afraid that he might choke on it,” Willie Beljam said. “We were out taking a walk when he went off into the woods and came back with the ribbon. After I got a better look at it, I saw that it was a balloon with a pink ribbon that had a white paper heart attached to it.

“The heart had a message written on it,” he continued. “It said: ‘ In loving Memory of: Ronnie Walls. We love you and miss you.’ The balloon had Danville Memorial Gardens and the address of the cemetery on the other side of the heart,” he said.

A call on Sunday evening to the cemetery went straight to voicemail, but “ObitsforeLife.com” included an obituary for Ronnie Dean Walls. Ann (Stith) McCrosky of Stith Funeral Home in Danville, Ky., confirmed that Stith served the family of Ronnie Dean Walls after his death on June 27, 2012.

“I do have balloon releases with several of the services we have, but Danville Memorial Gardens has an annual memorial program around Valentine’s Day and they do a memorial balloon release with that program.”

Ronnie Walls was 71 when he passed away, according to his obituary. He was the chief bailiff for the Boyle County Sheriff Department. He had been a truck driver for RC, Dr. Pepper and Pepsi and served as a volunteer with the Junction City, Ky., Fire and Rescue Squad. Walls coached and refereed Little League basketball and enjoyed sports as both a participant in bowling, golf and softball and watching Nascar, University of Kentucky and Boyle County Rebel sports.

“Ross Parker is a rescue dog who was rescued at the Cole Mountain Festival,” Beljam said. “Danville is 200 miles from Bluefield.”

“We do a lot of balloon releases,” McCrosky said. “I’m always curious as to how far they go. Some wind up in trees nearby. I received a call from a lady in Louisville that she had found one. We don’t actually know how far they travel.”

McCrosky said that the most recent balloon release at Danville Memorial Gardens was on Saturday, Feb. 15.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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