SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said its final goodbyes Friday to President M. Russell Ballard. The church held funeral services in the morning for the late acting president of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Those lucky enough to get a seat at Temple Square got a chance to hear about President Ballard in ways members of the church rarely knew. Stories of tenderness and love from his family and fellow apostles, but some that would make you laugh, too.
“It would be impossible to measure President Ballard’s impact for good during his sojourn in mortality,” said Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Tabernacle Choir paid tribute to President Ballard in song. Emotions at the services were still high among both his family and fellow apostles, since Ballard’s passing on Sunday at the age of 95. They shared their favorite memories of him, and his 47 years of church service.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, now taking the place of Ballard as acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke of their decades of friendship.
“I have enjoyed his friendship, and wise counsel for over 29 years, six of which I have been at his elbow watching closely his leadership of that quorum,” Holland said.
President Ballard’s children shared some of their most heartfelt memories, including his love for his late wife, Barbara, and how lucky he was to have her before she died.
“He would consistently remind us that his best sales job was winning her over, sometimes in the last few years he would even tease us that if mom was in heaven without him too long she might find someone else she liked better,” said Holly B. Clayton, President Ballard’s daughter.
Those who came to witness President Ballard’s funeral in person wanted to show their gratitude to him.
“I just think he did a lot of good things, even though I didn’t know him personally, I felt like it was good to be here,” said Ginger Wilson, West Jordan resident.
“How will you remember him?” asked Reporter Brian Carlson.
“As a wonderful, wonderful example, of a husband and father of a church leader and someone to emulate,” said Blair Walker, Salt Lake City resident.
“Elder Ballard lived a long, good life, and he’s done a lot of good, and I think it’s great that he gets to move to the next phase of his existence,” said Ben Mallonee, another BYU student.
As much as church members and those who knew Ballard best say they’ll miss him, they consider themselves grateful he was a part of their lives.
“Oh how we love President Ballard, how glorious it has been to associate with him, to be inspired by his loving care for his beloved Barbara,” Oaks said.
Reunited with his late wife, the procession took President Ballard to his final resting place at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.