George Ballas

George Ballas
Born George Charles Ballass
(1925-06-28)June 28, 1925
Ruston, Louisiana, U.S.
Died June 25, 2011(2011-06-25) (aged 85)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer
Nationality American
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Inventor of Weed Eater
Spouse(s) Maria Marulanda (1951-2011, his death)
Children Corky Ballas
George Ballas, Jr.
Michelle Ballas Pritchard
Maria Ballas Jamail
Lillian Ballas Miles-- Chris Urgiles
Parent(s) Charles Ballas
Maria Lymnaos Ballas
Relatives Mark Ballas (grandson)
Peter Ballas (brother)
George Ballas
Birth name George Charles Ballas
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942–1953
Commands held Bombardier
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War

George Charles Ballas, Sr. (June 28, 1925 – June 25, 2011) was an American entrepreneur. He invented the first string trimmer, known as the Weed Eater in 1971.[1] He is the father of ballroom dancer, Corky Ballas, and grandfather of professional dancer Mark Ballas of Dancing with the Stars.[2]

Early life

Ballas was born in Ruston, Louisiana. He was the son of Charles Ballas and Maria (née Lymnaos), who were Greek immigrants that ran a restaurant.[3] His brother is Peter Ballas.

He enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 17 in 1942 during World War II and was a bombardier.[1] Ballas would later serve in the Korean War.


He married Maria Marulanda in 1951.

He had five children, Corky Ballas, George Ballas Jr., Michelle Ballas Pritchard, Maria Ballas Jamail, and Lillian Ballas Miles.

His grandson, Mark Ballas is a dancer in Dancing with the Stars. He had six other grandchildren.


Ballas got the idea for the trimmer while driving through an automatic car wash, where the rotating brushes gave him an idea. Using a tin can laced with fishing line and an edge trimmer, he tried out his idea, which worked. After some refinements, he shopped it around to several tool makers, who all rejected his invention. He went on to develop the garden tool himself. The first year, sales were over a half million dollars. By 1977 they were $80 million, and Ballas sold his company the following year to Emerson Electric Company.[4]


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