Dahlia Legacy Project

By the Federation of Northwest Dahlia Growers

Dahlia Legacy Profile

Tom Ball was a native of Wisconsin and Twyla was from Kansas.
They met while Tom was in the Navy where his career spanned 25 years of service on submarines.
Tom was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on August 8,1934, and married Twyla Cogzill on May 24, 1958, in Reno, Kansas. They were both 23 years old and married for 51 years.
They had hoped to have children and attempted to adopt a child but, at the time, being in the Military nullified adoption eligibility.
Twyla had an exceptional sense of humor and always kept the atmosphere light with witticisms.
Even their email was “TNTBALL.” They were a true power couple.

The happy pair started growing dahlias in the 1970’s at their home in North Seattle near Haller Lake.
They had a large piece of property, with a greenhouse.

Tom and Bill Bonneywell (Snoho Dahlias) met each other at a Seattle Dahlia Society Meeting. As both had a military background, they hit it off immediately. Dick Williams (Skipley Dahlias) grew up together with Bill, beginning in 1944 in Everett as they both played ball together even after retirement from their careers. Dick met the Balls at a Seattle Dahlia Society Show Information Booth at a Northgate Show in about 1980. As the years went on the “Three Amigos” traveled a Dahlia Show Circuit extending from Vancouver Island to Spokane/Yakima, Snohomish/Seattle/Tacoma, south to Portland and through Oregon. Their wives (Twyla Ball, Ida Bonneywell and Gloria Williams) became fast friends as they participated in all the shows with them.
All three families were a vital part of the Seattle Dahlia Society for at least thirty years.
In addition to dahlias, all bowled weekly for years.

After Navy retirement, Tom worked at Boeing in food service and was an excellent cook. He cooked all day for the annual Seattle Christmas potluck: turkey, ham and more; just delicious. Thus, the tall, squarish “ham cans” that Tom salvaged, were painted “Ballet Green” for a long time until black Exhibition Containers became standardized. The cans, great for Giant through Medium size blooms, became dahlia show display cans throughout the entire Northwest.

Tom and Twyla were major participants in the Pacific Northwest Dahlia Conference and traveled quarterly, to Portland, Oregon, for Conference Planning Meetings. Thus, for many years, Wayne and Eleanor Shantz (Lane County, Oregon, Dahlia Society) were the Seattle Instructors for all levels of Judge’s Training. Wayne’s tests are historically difficult. Wayne served many years on the ADS Classification Committee and Eleanor is a renown instructor for constructing Dahlia Baskets.

Dick Williams hybridized a large yellow/orange, laciniated dahlia Skipley Twyla in about 2003. Sadly, the variety has been lost, but it certainly epitomized Twyla well. Of course, she loved it!

For a long time, Tom and Twyla anchored the Seattle Dahlia Society. Tom was Show Chairman, Treasurer, culture instructor and ran the Medal Exchange with dahlia societies all over North America.
Twyla produced the monthly (mailed) SDS Newsletter, organized the Tuber Sale, staffed the Show Information Booth and was a faithful phone-friend checking on members.
They contributed tubers and produced the Show Records and prizes, including a complicated Sweep Stakes. Both were Senior Dahlia Judges.

Twyla preceded Tom in death in the Spring of 2009 and on February 7, 2019, Tom passed away in Seattle. After losing Twyla, Tom pressed on, involved in the things they had shared together.

As Dick Willliams has said, you could not find a better or nicer couple.

July 2022
Diana Blackmer

Hall of Fame

Currently not a member of the hall of fame


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