M. Russell Ballard was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 8, 1928, to Melvin R. and Geraldine Smith Ballard. He attended the University of Utah.
He married Barbara Bowen in the Salt Lake Temple on August 28, 1951. They are the parents of two sons and five daughters.
As a young man, he served a mission to England for the Church where he was a counselor in the mission presidency. M. Russell Ballard has also served as a bishop twice.
In 1974, he was called as president of the Canada Toronto Mission where he was serving when called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April of 1976. As a member of the Seventy, he supervised and trained leaders in his assigned geographic regions. He later served as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy from February 1980 to October 1985, overseeing the Church’s Quorums of the Seventy. Much of his ministry has been focused on missionary work.
Prior to his call as a full-time Church leader, President Ballard had interests in the automotive, real estate, and investment businesses. He has served on many Church and civic committees and boards.