George Ballas died at age 85 on Saturday July 2nd, leaving in his wake his Weed Eater invention and numerous other successful ventures. He was the father of ballroom dancer Corky Ballas and grandfather of Mark Ballas who appeared in seven seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.” See what Corky Ballas had to say about his father in an interview with the Greek Reporter (vid below).
George Ballas’ idea for the Weed Eater came after a poisonous snake bit a worker who was trimming his lawn with shears, reports the WSJ. He combined an old popcorn can, some wires and a rotating edger, the alternative to labor-intensive shears, and the Weed Eater was born.
Mr. Ballas also was a dance instructor, developer and marketer who built hotels, patented an adjustable table and marketed an early portable phone. He operated one of the largest dance studios in the US.
But it was the Weed Eater—of which he invented both the concept and the name—that made him a fortune while sparking a revolution in lawn care.
Mr. Ballas introduced the device in the early 1970s and by 1976 was selling $40 million worth of them annually, the WSJ reports.
The son of Greek immigrants who ran a restaurant in northern Louisiana, Mr. Ballas served in the Air Force during World War II and the Korean War.
After getting out of the service, he married Maria Louisa Marulanda, a dance instructor whom he met when she taught him the tango, reports the WSJ.
Mr. Ballas made a foray into the dance business, managing several Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire studios.
In the late 1960s, Mr. Ballas opened Dance City USA in a disused cinema in Houston, boasting that the 43,000-square-foot dance studio was the largest in the world.