SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Melvin Russell Ballard, Jr., the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died on Sunday, Nov. 12, according to church officials. He was 95 years old.
Ballard reportedly returned home after having a brief hospital stay due to respiratory issues. Ballard confirmed earlier this month he was released from the hospital and able to “attend to duties as able” before he passed away at 11:15 p.m. on Sunday. Church officials said he was surrounded by loved ones at the time of his passing.
“We worked together closely, and I always loved his warm manner,” said President Dallin H. Oaks, who sat beside Ballard in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for more than three decades. “He was a man to be trusted and he was a man who trusted you.”
Ballard was born in Salt Lake City on Oct. 8, 1928. He became an Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1985 just before his 57th birthday. He was announced as Acting President in January 2018. According to the church, Ballard was one of 15 men who oversaw the growth and development of the church worldwide. Ballard was a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith, the brother of church founder Joseph Smith.
“I am constantly aware that I have a duty just by virtue of the fact that I have a connection,” Ballard said in 2019. “I hear them saying all the time, ‘Get with it; do something worthwhile. Get going, boy; don’t just sit there.’ They were doers. They had to be doers.”
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox expressed his condolences through a social media post on X, formerly Twitter, saying he and his wife were deeply saddened by the passing of a dear friend.
“He spent a lifetime of service trying to make the world a better place for everyone. We are forever grateful for the goodness and light he brought to this world,” said Cox.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mitt Romney called Ballard a great leader and a spiritual giant, saying, “He kindly offered us wise personal counsel on our life choices. To him, we owe decades of our extraordinary journey through life.”
He is survived by his seven children, 43 grandchildren, 105 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. His wife, Barbara Ballard, passed away in October 2018 at age 86 after a long battle with health issues, including Alzheimer’s.
Funeral details are pending and will be released by church officials at a later date.
According to the church’s website, Ballard became an Apostle on October 6, 1985. He had served as the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since January 2018.
“President Ballard was never indecisive,” Church President Russell M. Nelson said. “He knew exactly what the Lord taught and how it could be applied in one’s personal life and bring joy and happiness.”
As heir to the Ballard Motor Company, a vehicle dealership founded by his father, Ballard worked in every department of the company, earning a valuable work ethic that made its way into his ecclesiastical duties.
“I learned through my dad that when you start something, you finish it,” Ballard said. “Ultimately, it works out to your satisfaction that either you win, and it becomes profitable, or you learn that it’s not going to work, and you step away from it, but you never leave wondering if you’re willing to stay with it.”
Despite his business background, Ballard said he had no financial incentive to serve the church.
“You could not hire me for money to do what I’m asked to do as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve,” Ballard said. “But for the Lord, it’s the greatest privilege that could ever be given to a man. We are witnesses of the reality of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ballard was instrumental in the development of “Preach My Gospel,” an instruction guide for LDS missionaries. As a former chairman of the church’s missionary council, he had more than 50,000 missionaries under his charge.