President Ballard Celebrates 91st Birthday

Contributed By Sydney Walker, Church News staff writer

  • 8 October 2019

Then-Elder M. Russell Ballard tells a story to his family members during a council meeting in Salt Lake City on December 26, 2016. He has been an energetic advocate of the council system in the Church stretching at least as far back as October 1993, when he talked on that subject in general conference for the first time. Photo by Nick Wagner, Deseret News.

On Tuesday, October 8, President M. Russell Ballard celebrates his 91st birthday.

President Ballard has been serving as the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since January 14, 2018. He was sustained as an Apostle on October 6, 1985.

While serving as president of the Canada Toronto Mission, he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1976. From February 1980 to October 1985, he served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.

He married Barbara Bowen on August 28, 1951, in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of seven children. Sister Ballard passed away on October  1, 2018, at the age of 86. President Ballard acknowledged the passing of his wife during his October 2018 and October 2019 general conference talks.

Here are 23 photos celebrating the life of President Ballard:

M. Russell Ballard as a toddler. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 8, 1928, to Melvin Russell and Geraldine Smith Ballard.

M. Russell Ballard and Barbara Bowen were married in the Salt Lake Temple on August 28, 1951.

M. Russell Ballard is pictured with his wife, Barbara B. Ballard. They are the parents of two sons and five daughters. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

Elder M. Russell Ballard and his wife, Sister Barbara Ballard, pose after his new calling to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1976. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

M. Russell Ballard served twice as a bishop. Here he is pictured with the Holladay 12th Ward, Olympus Stake. Left to right are Glendon M. Whitmore, first counselor; Bishop M. Russell Ballard Jr., and Boyd N. Nielson, second counselor. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

M. Russell Ballard, left, worked as the president of Ballard Motor Company, his father’s car dealership, in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

Family time was always important to the Ballard Family. From left, Craig, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Tracy and Sister Barbara Ballard, match wits and luck in a board game in the 1980s. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

Elder M. Russell Ballard reviews curriculum material at the Church in March 1980. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

Elder M. Russell Ballard gives a talk about families in a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse on May 25, 1980. Pictured with his daughter and son-in-law, he uses his grandson to make a point that no one knows the destiny of a child. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

Elder Charles Didier and Elder M. Russell Ballard, on front row, mingle with children and others in the congregation when Suriname was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel in February 1990. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, right, was a guest of President George Bush at Camp David for the dedication of the new interfaith chapel at the former president’s Maryland retreat. Elder Ballard received a silver tray for the Church’s contribution to the Camp David Chapel Fund Inc. This picture appeared in an April 1991 edition of the Church News. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, President Howard W. Hunter, and Elder Russell M. Nelson, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, and Elder Dean L. Larsen watch a cornerstone laying for a temple dedication in 1989. Photo courtesy of Church News archives.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, President Boyd K. Packer, Jon M. Huntsman Sr., Bishop H. David Burton, and Elder D. Todd Christofferson at the Baton Rouge Evacuation Center on September 4, 2005, following Hurricane Katrina. Photo courtesy of President M. Russell Ballard.

Elder M. Russell Ballard and Jon M. Huntsman Sr. are pictured at Waterfall Resort in Alaska in July 1994. They were great friends. Elder Huntsman, a successful businessman who served as an Area Seventy and mission president, passed away in February 2018. Photo courtesy of President M. Russell Ballard.

Elder M. Russell Ballard talks about grave sites of Joseph and Hyrum Smith commemoration service June 27, 2002. Jospeh Smith is Elder Ballard’s great-great-great-uncle and Hyrum Smith is his great-great grandfather. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Elder Jon M. Huntsman Sr., Peter Huntsman and Elder M. Russell Ballard survey some of the damage following Hurricane Katrina in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, September 4, 2005. Photo courtesy of President M. Russell Ballard.

Michelle Obama, middle, meets with the Elder Quentin L. Cook, left, and Elder M. Russell Ballard, right, at Church Headquarters during a campaign stop in Salt Lake City on behalf of her husband, Sen. Barack Obama, in February 2008.

Elder M. Russell M. Ballard shakes hands with a young child in Moscow, Russia, June 4, 2016. Photo by Andrey Semenov.

Elder M. Russell Ballard speaks during the annual Days of ’47 rodeo at the new state fair park arena in Salt Lake City on July 19, 2017. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, fourth from left; Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy, third from left; and Sister Cristina B. Franco, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, second from left; gather in prayer with The Reverend Clemons in Houston, Texas, on September 16–17, 2017. Photo by Robert Boyd.

Elder M. Russell Ballard and his wife, Sister Barbara Ballard, exit at the end of the afternoon session of 187th Semiannual General Conference in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, October 1, 2017. Sister Ballard passed away on October 1, 2018, at age 86. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Elder M. Russell Ballard rides in the Days of ’47 Parade in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 24, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

President Russell M. Nelson and President M. Russell Ballard pose near the Vatican in Rome, Italy, on March 9, 2019, after meeting with Pope Francis. Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.