Houston man who invented Weed Eater dies at 85
HOUSTON (AP) — George C. Ballas Sr., a Houston entrepreneur best known for inventing the Weed Eater, has died. He was 85.
Ballas’ son, Corky Ballas, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his father died of natural causes on Saturday.
“He changed the way we cut grass,” Corky Ballas said.
Ballas got the idea for the Weed Eater, a device also commonly known as a weed whacker, while sitting in a car wash. He wondered whether the idea of spinning bristles, like the ones cleaning his car, could be applied to trimming grass and weeds in areas a lawnmower couldn’t reach.
He experimented with fishing wire that poked through holes in a tin can attached to the rotary of a lawn edger, and found that the spinning wires easily sliced through grass, The Houston Chronicle reported.
But George Ballas, who was born in Ruston, La., was also a dance studio owner and dance was an important part of his family’s life.
After moving to Houston in the late 1950s, he built and operated the Dance City USA Studio. With 120 instructors and 43,000 square feet of space, it was heralded as the largest dance studio in the world. He sold it in 1964.
Corky Ballas became a champion ballroom dancer, and his son, Mark Ballas, is a professional dancer. Both of them have appeared on “Dancing With the Stars.”