‘Gentle, humble, kind’: Utah leaders react to the death of LDS apostle M. Russell Ballard

Global faith and Utah lose a “great leader” and a “spiritual giant.”

(Brigham Young University) President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles waves goodbye after speaking to BYU students at the Marriott Center in 2020. Ballard died Sunday at age 95.

Longtime apostle M. Russell Ballard was well known, well respected and well loved by government, religious, business and community leaders — both inside and outside of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Here are some reactions Monday to his death Sunday night.

“He’ll be remembered as a wonderful husband and a great father. This is where his highest priority was. He set a good example for us on that, even though he’d had many, many demands upon his time. His family always came first.”

— Church President Russell M. Nelson

“The church has always been ordered by offices, councils and kinship structures. He was instrumental in bringing back councils in a way that allowed women to have more of a voice in the church’s everyday operations and ultimately in its general councils.”

Kathleen Flake, Head of Mormon studies at the University of Virginia

“[I] so admired the way … Ballard has treated his eternal companion, Barbara. In her advanced age and his advanced age, he has just been an exemplary husband. So thoughtful. And so gentle.”

— Fellow apostle Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the church’s governing First Presidency

[Read about the life, legacy, family and faith of businessman-turned-apostle M. Russell Ballard.]

“[His] life was a testament to his devoted service to the church and its members. … We are comforted knowing his legacy of service and love will continue to bless countless lives.”

— Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah

“M. Russell Ballard [was] a great leader, a spiritual giant and a dear friend. He kindly offered us wise personal counsel on our life choices. To him, we owe decades of our extraordinary journey through life.”

— Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah

“What struck me most was his deep sense of Latter-day Saint history and his concern for modern refugees, whose struggle he saw in the story of his ancestors. An extraordinary life.”

McKay Coppins, writer at The Atlantic magazine and author of “Romney: A Reckoning.”

“President Ballard was kind, thoughtful, humble and often humorous in all our interactions. He demonstrated a commitment to family, faith and community.”

— Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville

“He spent a lifetime of service trying to make the world a better place for everyone. We are forever grateful for the goodness and light he brought to this world.”

— Utah Gov. Spencer Cox

“President Ballard lived a life of selfless, faithful service. His passing will be felt deeply.”

— Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah

“A man of unwavering integrity, President Ballard devoted his life to serving his faith and fellow man.”

— Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah

“[He was] an inspiration to our family and an example of Christlike, selfless, service.”

— Former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

“[Ballard’s] unwavering dedication to faith, family and service has left an indelible mark not only within the church but across communities worldwide. My father, Dee, spent significant time with [him] while they pursued degrees at [Brigham Young University]. The stories he told of [Ballard] have only made me appreciate his work more as the leader of our church.”

— Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah

“I join many Utahns and those around the world in mourning the one-of-a-kind individual who illustrated a strong and selfless commitment to his faith, our state and our community.”

— Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton

“What a legacy of leadership, kindness and consecration. We will miss President Ballard’s steady guidance for a generation.”

— General authority Seventy Clark Gilbert, commissioner of the Church Educational System

“On behalf of [Bishop] Oscar A. Solis, the Diocese of Salt Lake City extends our deepest condolences to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the death of Elder M. Russell Ballard. He was a man of integrity and a true friend of our Catholic bishops, many of our clergy and other leaders.”

— The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City

“[Ballard] was a personal friend of mine for many years. He would take my call when I needed something, and he would call me to facilitate whatever he needed. He was always warm and friendly. I found him to be a person of integrity and faithful to his work who kept his promises. After he had his visit with Pope Francis, he stopped by [our diocesan offices] to tell me about it. He was very close to Bishop [John] Wester; he even flew down for the bishop’s installation in Santa Fe. To us, he was the face of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What a pleasure it was to know him.”

— Monsignor Terrence Fitzgerald of Salt Lake City’s Catholic diocese

“[He] was a great man, a powerful witness, and an example to all. He once invited me to visit with him after becoming CEO of LHM to express his support and encouragement. I was one of thousands he kindly ministered to, and I will miss his leadership.”

Steve Starks, chief executive officer at the Larry H. Miller Co. and former president of the Utah Jazz

“President Ballard ... was a dear friend who personally ministered to us over the years, sharing his love and support for our families, our well-being and our personal journeys. We will sincerely miss him.”

— Businesswoman/philanthropist Gail Miller and husband Kim Wilson

— Tribune editor Jeff Parrott and religion reporter Tamarra Kemsley contributed to this story.