William Lockhart Ball was born in Belton, South Carolina, on 10 June 1948. After graduating from Georgia Tech, he served six years as a U.S. Navy officer. Ball began his government service in Washington, DC, in 1975. For 10 years, he served in several committee and staff positions, which led to his appointment as chief of staff to Senators John Tower (R-TX) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA). In 1985, he joined Reagan Reagan’s administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs under Secretary of State George P. Shultz. The following year, Ball was assigned to the White House to serve as Reagan’s chief liaison to Congress. Two years later, he was nominated by the president to be the 67th Secretary of the Navy and was confirmed by the Senate in March of 1988.
During President George H. W. Bush’s administration, Ball was appointed to serve as a member of the 1991 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRACC), the third appointment for which he was confirmed by the Senate in his government career. In 2005, he was appointed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to serve as a member of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, which was established by Congress to address major issues affecting the components. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Maine Maritime Academy and a director of the Naval Historical Foundation on the Washington Navy Yard.