He worked for law firms in Charleston until 1957, when he moved to Philadelphia to be an attorney for Sears Roebuck.
In 1962, he became partner in the Philadelphia law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
From 1962 to 1976, he was president and chairman of Phildelphia Suburban Water Co. and president and chairman of its parent company, Philadelphia Suburban Corp., from 1968 to 1981.
He became president and chairman of Enterra Corp. in Radnor in 1981. The oil-field service company had formerly been a subsidiary of Philadelphia Suburban.
After he retired in 1986, he returned to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as counsel.
Mr. Ballengee served on the board of trustees of Washington and Lee University from 1978 to 1990 and was board chairman for nine years. During his tenure, he was involved in the 1985 decision to make the formerly all-male undergraduate school of the university coeducational.
Former Washington and Lee president John Wilson said Mr. Ballengee's "articulate nature" gained the trust of the alumni and others and convinced them that an objective study had been done before the decision was made.
Mr. Ballengee was on the boards of several corporate and cultural organizations, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the George C. Marshall Foundation. He was past president of the Fairmount Park Council for Historic Sites and the Metropolitan Board of the Philadelphia YMCA and was former chairman of the boards of Bryn Mawr Hospital, the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Ballengee's wife of 55 years, Jo McIlhattan Ballengee, said her husband collected wine and books. "He loved to read history and politics, and to travel," she said. "We've gone all over Europe, to China and Australia."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by son James Jr.; daughters Elizabeth Bowerman and Sarah Stewart; and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Ave., Bryn Mawr. Burial is private.
Memorial donations may be made to the Bryn Mawr Hospital Foundation, 130 S. Bryn Mawr Ave., Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010.
Contact Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or email@example.com.