President M. Russell Ballard shares his first name with his grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard. Elder Ballard passed away when young Russell was not quite 11 years old. Since President Ballard's family was not active in the Church while he was growing up, he never heard his grandfather speak in general conference or give an address.
But President Ballard does have a copy of his grandfather's last sermon, one he gave in 1939 in Boston, Massachusetts, a trip during which Elder Ballard visited the birthplace of Joseph Smith and testified of the prophet and the Church.
Elder Ballard passed away from leukemia two weeks later. “And yet he was here and he would not—even though he had very little energy—give up the responsibility he had to declare the word of the Lord to the world. . . . in the birthplace of the prophet in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times,” President Ballard explains. In a powerful Church News video, President Ballard spoke of his grandfather's legacy and what it means to his life.
While in Vermont and Massachusetts, President Ballard also had the opportunity to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and bear powerful testimony of Joseph Smith. About the statues of Joseph and Hyrum Smith that President Ballard keeps in his office, he shares, “I look at them, and I think I hear them say, ‘Get going boy, and do something worthwhile. Tell the world what’s happened.’ So to me, I get nudged big time when I see them and see what they did and what they gave. Then I feel obligated to do everything I can to declare and to teach that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is once again upon the earth.”