Speaking at Harry Reid’s memorial service Saturday in Las Vegas, senior Latter-day Saint apostle M. Russell Ballard praised the former U.S. Senate majority leader and Nevada Democrat as one who exemplified the New Testament’s instruction to care for “the least of these.”
“Harry cared for…those who were less fortunate, hungry, sick or those who had any number of challenges,” said Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As an example, he noted Reid’s reputation as “the best minister” in whatever congregation he was part of — he ministered, for instance, to Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee’s family — even during his tenure “as one of the nation’s most powerful political leaders.”
“There is nothing wrong with seeking a career that will bring you financial success,” he quoted Reid as saying. “But never forget the clarion call” of King Benjamin from the faith’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon: “‘When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God.’”
Throughout his remarks, Ballard repeatedly referred to Reid as a “dear friend,” with whom he would counsel and “share personal experiences of faith.”
“In more recent years,” he said, “we shared a similar plight. We each lost sight in one eye at about the same time; he in his right eye and me in my left. We used to remind each other that we could walk down the street, arm in arm. He could help me see things on the left and I could help him see things on the right!”
During his 34-year career in Washington, Reid became the highest-ranking elected Latter-day Saint ever to serve in the United States.
He and his wife, Landra, converted to the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when they were 19 years old, shortly after they married.
Former President Barack Obama also spoke, crediting Reid with paving the way in the Senate for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 — commonly dubbed “Obamacare,” and “reining in some of the worst abuses of the financial industry.”
In his remarks, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., described meeting Reid, “a soft-spoken Mormon from Searchlight [Nevada],” for the first time in 1999.
“And here I was, a brash, Jewish kid out of Brooklyn,” he said. “We were a match made in heaven.”
Echoing Ballard’s comments, Schumer described Reid as someone who “always stuck up for the underdog and the little guy. I believe Harry drew a lot of that compassion from his faith.”
Then, explaining Reid always kept a copy of the Book of Mormon in his office, Schumer quoted 2 Nephi 9:13. “O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls.”
Other speakers included President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and several family members.
Carole King and Brandon Flowers, the frontman for the Las Vegas band The Killers and a fellow Latter-day Saint, both performed.
Reid’s body will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday before being laid to rest in his hometown of Searchlight.