Oct. 14, 1958 – Aug. 26, 2016
Thelma Lee “Penny” Ballard, a mainstay for many years in the city’s alternative music scene, died unexpectedly Aug. 26 in a home on Buffalo’s West Side where she was house-sitting. She was 57.
Born in Santa Monica, Calif., she grew up in Tennessee and had been a Buffalo resident since 1980.
Self-employed for most of her life, she worked as an organizer, gardener, pet-sitter and cleaner. She also held a variety of waitress and bartending jobs. Most recently, she was a deli clerk in Guercio’s market on Grant Street.
A fixture in Allentown, she hosted and enlivened parties and favored venues that featured live music, particularly the Steam Donkeys, whom she had followed since the 1990s.
Nicknamed “Bad Penny” for her quick temper and her fondness for alcohol, she also was revered for her kind heart and generosity. Particularly fond of animals, she volunteered at animal shelters, brought in abandoned dogs and cats, and helped them find homes.
Survivors include a sister, Sue Steuber, and many close friends, notably Lisa Rodriguez, whom she called her sister, Mary Begley, Michelle Dempsey and Deb Ellis.
A day of memorials for her Oct. 15 include a program from 2 to 4 p.m. in the chapel at Forest Lawn, a repast at 4:30 p.m. in the Essex Street Pub, 530 Rhode Island St., and a performance by the Steam Donkeys at 7:30 p.m. in Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St.