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LDS community remembers leader M. Russell Ballard during funeral services

Posted at 9:52 AM, Nov 14, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — M. Russell Ballard was remembered as a man dedicated to church service and family during services held Friday in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

Ballard, who was second-in-line to become church president, died Sunday at the age of 95.

During the service, Ballard's children and fellow Apostles spoke, paying tribute to his life in which more than fifty years were spent in full-time work as a church leader.

“It would be impossible to measure President Ballard’s impact for good during his sojourn in mortality,” said President Dallin H. Oaks as he read a statement on behalf of the First Presidency of the church. “As a young missionary to Great Britain, as a mission president in Toronto and as a General Authority, he has traversed the globe many times, teaching and testifying of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. He has been a courageous warrior for truth!”

Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke during the service, emphasizing his leadership, diligence and love for his family.

“He was a warm bridge builder with a great sense of humor and was kind to everyone," he shared. "He was wise and tried to keep things simple. He was inclusive and invited everyone into his circle. He exhibited great character and integrity in every aspect of his life."

Acting President Jeffrey R. Holland also spoke during the service, recalling a close friendship with Ballard for the last 29 years. His friendship was so close with Ballard that during Holland's recent hospital stay that extended to five weeks, he learned Ballard would phone every day to check on him and his recovery.

Two of Ballard's children also spoke, remembering their father's dedication to all the responsibilities he was tasked with in life, including family responsibilities.

"My dad didn’t just preach the word, he lived it every day," said Ballard's son, Craig. "He really loved people around the world and helped them progress wherever they were along the covenant path."

"We aim to live up to the example of our father and our beautiful mother,” said Ballard's daughter, Holly Clayton. “To each of his seven children and their spouses, Dad was always a father first and foremost and each of his 43 grandchildren knew him best as their grandpa."

The public was welcomed to attend the services and many gathered outside Temple Square gates beforehand to remember their beloved friend.

“We have known and loved President Ballard for a long time, so it’s a very tender day for us," said Lillian Aldridge, a family friend to Ballard for the last three decades. "We know where he is and he’s in a better place and he’s happy to be with his wife again.”

“Absolutely marvelous man, an uncommon man who understood how to get things done," added Claron Aldridge. "He was a man who had a vision about how to accomplish things.”

Church members also attended the funeral, remembering a leader who served in the church for many decades.

“He’s been a great service to our church as an apostle and also a wonderful example to his family and friends," said Kara Lee Fletcher, a funeral attendee.

For those who want to watch the funeral but aren't able to attend at Temple Square, church leaders said services will be streamed on the church's broadcasts page. FOX 13 News will also stream the services on fox13now.com.

Ballard was a native Utahn, born in Salt Lake City on October 8, 1928.

He led a life filled with dedication to his faith, serving a church mission to England as a young adult and later as the president of the Canada Toronto Mission.

In the 1980s, Ballard was called to be an Apostle for the church, the highest-ranking level of authority within the organization. He served in that capacity for more than three decades and was announced as Acting President of the group in 2018.

Ballard married his wife, Barbara and the couple had seven children together. Barbara died in 2018 after facing health issues including Alzheimer's. Ballard is survived by all of his children, 43 grandchildren, 105 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Church members flooded Ballard's social media pages after his death, pouring out their tributes to a man who they say dedicated his life to service.

After his death, Jeffrey R. Holland was selected to serve as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, filling Ballard's vacancy. The church usually announces the appointment of a new apostle during semi-annual conferences held in October and April.

The church said a private burial service will happen at the Salt Lake City Cemetery following the funeral, which is not open to public.

Other church buildings will close at 10:30 a.m. for the funeral and be reopened at 1 p.m.

Church authorities also announced there would be no public viewing, instead encouraging individuals to post their messages on Ballard's official social media pages.