Melvin Russell Ballard was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 8, 1928. He was the only boy in his family and had three sisters. In 1948 he was called to serve a mission to England. While there, he served as a counselor in the mission presidency. He was honorably released in 1950 and returned to Utah. Not long after his return, he met Barbara Bowen at a dance held at the University of Utah. They dated for eleven months. Elder Ballard said of their courtship,
- She was not only beautiful, but had a sparkling personality. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to marry her, but she didn’t share the same feelings. It was a little hard convincing her. I kid her now that getting her to marry me was the greatest sales job I ever did” (Kathleen Lubeck, “Elder M. Russell Ballard: True to the Faith,” Ensign, Mar. 1986, 6).
They were married on August 28, 1951, and eventually had two sons and five daughters.
After they were married, Elder Ballard was called into a bishopric, then in 1974 he was called to be the President of the Toronto Canada Mission. In 1976 he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy where he served as the Executive Director of the Curriculum Department, Executive Director of the Correlation Department, Executive Director of the Missionary Department, and as President of the International Mission. In 1980 he was called into the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
- It came as such a surprise. We were just ready to leave the house to go to conference. The phone rang, and it was President Gordon B. Hinckley, who asked my husband to come to the office. He thought he would perhaps be called on to speak in conference, since one of the speakers was ill. We were relaxed on the way to President Hinckley’s office and discussed what Russell might talk about if called to speak. When we got to the office, President Hinckley called my husband to be an Apostle. I almost thought, please say that again. I don’t know if I heard correctly. Russell looked at me with tears in his eyes. It was a sobering experience (Ibid.).
Elder Ballard accepted the call that morning and that afternoon was sustained by the Church in the closing session of conference. Elder Ballard has a strong testimony of the truth of the gospel.
Quotes from Elder M. Russell Ballard
- "Brothers and sisters, refuse to be used. Refuse to be manipulated. Refuse to support those programs that violate traditional family values. We may be a small voice to begin with; nevertheless, let us speak out and encourage a more uplifting, inspiring, and acceptable media."
- “Let Our Voices Be Heard,” Ensign, Nov. 2003
- "In our lives, He who knows most about us, our potential, and our eternal possibilities has given us divine counsel and commandments in His instruction manuals—the holy scriptures. When we understand and follow these instructions, our lives have purpose and meaning. We learn that our Maker loves us and desires our happiness. In an incomparable manifestation of this divine love for us, he sent his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ."
- “God’s Love for His Children,” Ensign, May 1988
Other interesting information
- In November of 2009 the Catholic Community Services in Utah awarded Elder Ballard a humanitarian service award.
- Elder Ballard is also father-in-law of multi-millionaire CEO of Huntsman Corporation, Peter Huntsman, son of billionaire philanthropist Jon Huntsman, Sr.
|Quorum of the Twelve Apostles|
|Boyd K. Packer | L. Tom Perry | Russell M. Nelson | Dallin H. Oaks | M. Russell Ballard | Richard G. Scott | Robert D. Hales | Jeffrey R. Holland | David A. Bednar | Quentin L. Cook | D. Todd Christofferson | Neil L. Andersen|