RACE, RELIGION + SOCIAL JUSTICE

President M. Russell Ballard has passed away at 95

Nov 13, 2023, 7:24 AM | Updated: May 29, 2024, 11:07 am

President M. Russell Ballard...

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during a special stake conference of the Hamilton Ontario Stake, April 23, 2023. (Nick Lachance for the Deseret News)

(Nick Lachance for the Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Elder M. Russell Ballard, the Acting President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away at age 95.

Melvin Russell Ballard was born October 8, 1928, in Salt Lake City. He was a great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith, the brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both of his grandfathers were apostles, Hyrum Mack Smith and Melvin J. Ballard.

According to Anxiously Engaged, a biography by Susan Easton Black and Joseph Walker, he attended East High School and the University of Utah. He served a mission in England, becoming a counselor in the mission presidency.

He also served as a private and then a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve. He courted Barbara Bowen, whom he met at a dance at the university. They were married on August 28th, 1951. Russell and Barbara had seven children.

He went on to work as a top salesperson in his father’s auto dealership and then in his own, as well as a series of business ventures, including real estate and securities. Not all were successful — he owned Utah’s first Edsel dealership, a model discontinued by Ford after a few years.

President M. Russell Ballard served as a bishop twice as well as in a number of other church callings. He was a mission president in Canada when he was called to the First Quorum of Seventy in 1976. In 1980, he was called to the Presidency of the Seventy. Then, in 1985, on a General Conference weekend, he got a phone call from President Gordon B. Hinckley.

“Sunday morning about 7:30 in the morning,” President Ballard recalled, “President Hinckley called me and asked me if I was out of the shower yet. He had such a great sense of humor. I said, ‘Oh, boy, President, I’ll say. We’re coming to Conference.’ And he said, ‘Well, would you come by and see me at 9 o’clock in my office?'”

On that day, he was called to be a member of The Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He was sustained as Acting President of the Quorum in 2018.

His service as an apostle took him to every corner of the globe. He told a General Conference session the most difficult challenge came with the passing of Sister Ballard in 2019

“Barbara and I were blessed to live together for 67 years,” President M. Russell Ballard said in a recent session of General Conference. “But I’ve learned in a very real way what it means to weep for the loss of those we love. Oh, how I love and miss her.”

President M. Russell Ballard said then he took comfort in the hope of the reunion that is at the center of Latter-day Saint teachings.

Funeral services for President Ballard will take place Friday.

Bonneville International Corporation, the company that owns KSL NewsRadio, is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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President M. Russell Ballard has passed away at 95