American businessman and religious leader Melvin Russell Ballard Jr. (October 8, 1928 – November 12, 2023) held the position of Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 2018 until his passing in 2023. Since 1985, he has been a part of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles inside the church.
M Russell Ballard Cause of Death
M. Russell Ballard, a businessman and religious leader, died on November 12, 2023, at the age of 95. Ballard’s cause of death is still unknown, however, Fox 13 News Utah reports that he had to be hospitalized last month due to some respiratory problems.
Earlier this month, Ballard also posted the following on Facebook:
“Following a wonderful and inspiring general conference, last week I suddenly found myself in the hospital with respiratory issues. However, I have since been released from the hospital and returned home where I am attending to duties as I am able.”
Ballard was married to Barbara Bowen, who, according to The Church of Jesus Christ, was well-known for her connections to a variety of missionaries, Church missionaries, and residents of Ontario.
Michelle D. Craig, First Counselor of the Young Women General Presidency, posted the following on Facebook:
“I imagine Joseph and Hyrum being among the first to welcome him Home. President M. Russell Ballard, the great grandson of Hyrum Smith ever bore witness of the prophetic calling and mission of the prophet Joseph Smith.”
Mitt Romney said on Facebook that he and his wife received some “wise personal counsel” from Ballard.
M Russell Ballard’s Early Life
Elder Melvin J. Ballard and Elder Hyrum Mack Smith, who were both members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were his grandparents. His great-great-grandfather, Hyrum Smith, was a brother of church founder and president Joseph Smith, and his great-grandfather, Joseph F. Smith, was another past church president.
President Ballard’s sister, Ann Keddington, said that he was a diligent young man. In 1986, following his appointment to the apostleship, she told the Ensign magazine, “He always had a job, even when he was little.”
President Ballard began by mowing lawns, then added more yard labor duties until he went on to other positions. He was a leader among his family and friends and a “smiling, slender, wiry young man with a fun sense of humor,” according to Keddington’s memories of him.
In 1950, he attended a dance at the University of Utah and met Barbara Bowen, his wife. Before getting married in the Salt Lake Temple on August 28, 1951, they courted for 11 months. Together, they were parents to Clark, Holly, Meleea, Tamara, Stacey, Brynn, and Craig; they also had five daughters.
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Education and Career
President Ballard was known for his unwavering moral principles by his fraternity brothers. He attended both the University of Utah and East High School. Frequently, they addressed him as “the bishop.”
As the top-selling salesperson at his father’s auto dealership, Ballard Motor Company, President Ballard finally succeeded him. The dealership was the most prosperous in the nation and eventually became Salt Lake City’s authorized Edsel automobile dealer.
However, the Edsel eventually failed, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars being lost by the Ford Motor Company and dealers nationwide. President Ballard claimed that he gained empathy for those who struggled as a result of this encounter.
President Ballard worked tirelessly for years to ensure that his company recovered fully from the setbacks. In addition, President Ballard wrote a great deal, having twelve novels published by Deseret Book.