At his funeral in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Friday, November 17, 2023, President M. Russell Ballard was remembered by friends and family as a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ and a man fervently focused on his family.
“It would be impossible to measure President Ballard’s impact for good during his sojourn in mortality,” said the First Presidency in a statement read by its First Counselor, President Dallin H. Oaks. “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!”
The First Presidency and others noted President Ballard’s nearly 50 years of dedicated full-time Church service, his leading role in creating the original version of “Preach My Gospel” and his gifts as a leader, unifier, problem solver, counselor and mentor.
“President Ballard and I sat beside one another in the meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for almost 33 years,” President Oaks said. “President [Henry B.] Eyring knew President Ballard intimately for about 40 years. President Nelson knew President Ballard longer than either one of us! Each of us loved this man, we were inspired by his fervent testimony, we learned from his many great leadership qualities, and we were blessed by his influence throughout the Church.”
President Jeffrey R. Holland, President Ballard’s successor as leader of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said his association with President Ballard began in the fall of 1990. Elder Holland was a new General Authority Seventy in the Church’s Europe North Area and President Ballard was his first contact.
As he “wept” and “pled for peace and reassurance” that he would succeed in his assignment, Elder Holland said he heard a voice.
“Jeffrey, this is my work, not yours, so you rejoice in the arrangements I choose to make,” the voice said. “I deserved that,” Elder Holland said, “but then I heard the unbelievable: ‘Russell Ballard will be one of the best friends you will ever have in this world. You will enjoy his company and seek his counsel for the rest of your life.’”
“That brief, unforgettable, unexpected answer to prayer has been more than fulfilled in every detail a thousand times over—far more than I can possibly say this morning,” Elder Holland said.
President Ballard visited or called every day during President Holland’s recent five-week hospital stay.
“How do you thank a man for that?” President Holland said. “I have since tried to do so, in part with reciprocal visits and calls to him every day during the last two or three weeks of his life. And thanks to this remarkable family, I got to kiss his cheek for the last time just hours before he passed.”
You can watch the full service in the player below and read more about the remarks from speakers on Church Newsroom.