Robert M. Ball, 93, commissioner of Social Security under three presidents who was a major player in virtually every development of the old-age and disability insurance field for the past 60 years, died of congestive heart failure January 29 2008.

Mr. Ball was described by American Scholar magazine in 2005 as Social Security’s “biggest thinker, longest-serving commissioner and undisputed spiritual leader . . . . Social Security’s chief advocate and defender.”

Mr. Ball started working for Social Security a year before the first checks were mailed out in 1939. He spent his entire working career at Social Security, eventually rising to Commissioner. Even after he retired in 1973 he continued to promote the benefits of the program, leading the opposition to privatization of Social Security in the 90’s and during G.W. Bush’s first term.

Mr ball helped persuade Congress to create Social Security disability insurance in 1956, despite President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s opposition, and he played a critical role in the establishment of Medicare.

Sounds like he was truly a great American.

Official Social Security web page about Mr. Ball

Washington Post article about Mr. Ball

Another good article, with several quotes