Thousands gathered Monday to celebrate the “matchless life” of Sister Barbara Bowen Ballard — a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend who made the lives of those around her “a little better, a little happier and better focused on the Lord and His gospel.”
The wife of President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Ballard died Oct. 1 at her home in Salt Lake City. She was 86.
A capacity congregation filled the chapel and overflow rooms of the Salt Lake Monument Park Stake Center in Salt Lake City to honor Sister Ballard.
Family members were joined by the Church's entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and their wives, other General Authorities and general auxiliary leaders and hundreds of friends for the service — held one day after the conclusion of the 188th Semiannual General Conference.
President Ballard, marking his 90th birthday on the day of the funeral, spoke about his wife of 67 years during general conference.
"How grateful I am today to know where my precious Barbara is and that we will be together again with our family for all eternity," said President Ballard.
During Sister Ballard’s funeral, President Russell M. Nelson praised President and Sister Ballard who “are still teaching us” by their example.
“She has responded to a call from our Heavenly Father to come back home to Him. And her husband continues to do his duty here in the Church. He knows the doctrine.”
Sister Ballard will eventually be joined by her husband and their great posterity “to experience the fulness of joy that God has in store for His faithful children,” said President Nelson.
Thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and to Sister Ballard’s “exemplary life as a covenant keeper,” she will “achieve her perfection, the brightness of her youth, the restoration of her body to her spirit and the full radiance of her celestial glory. Her resurrected body will assume the exact stature of the spirit that possessed it here, only in its glorified and perfected state.”
Sister Ballard will help prepare a place for each “precious and beloved” member of the Ballard family, he added.
“Thus, one day, we, if we are worthy, we shall see the glorified, redeemed, exalted and perfected Barbara Bowen Ballard, mother, Saint, sister and daughter of the living God.”
In addition to President Nelson, President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency read a letter to the family from the First Presidency. President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Holly B. Clayton and Craig B. Ballard, two of the Ballard’s seven children, offered remarks and remembrances.
Reading the First Presidency letter, President Eyring said Sister Ballard leaves a rich heritage for her family and many friends.
“We rejoice with you in her life of devoted service," read President Eyring. "Sister Ballard's selflessness and faithfulness made it possible for her to place the needs of others above her own. She gave of herself in every way."
She helped others build their faith and follow the Savior, he said.
President Oaks said one of the great resources in the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the spouses of General Authorities and general officers, who aid and support their respective wife or husband in all they are called to do.
“None have performed that vital task more valiantly and effectively than Barbara Bowen Ballard,” he said. “She was a valiant servant of the Lord who was a great supporter of her husband in all that he did.”
Quoting his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, President Oaks said Sister Ballard had a love that “just washes over you."
“That love was felt by all she visited and all who visited her ... . When Barbara entered a room, a warm feeling enveloped everyone.”
President Oaks assured the congregation that “through our sure knowledge of the resurrection,” they will see Sister Ballard again. “In our eternal journey, the resurrection is the mighty milepost that signifies the end of mortality and the beginning of immortality. ... We testify of the truth of the resurrection and the glory of eternal life.”
Elder Holland said President and Sister Ballard have been “something of surrogate parents” to he and his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, ever since his call as a General Authority.
Members of the Ballard family were ministering to members of the Holland family long before President Nelson invited that kind of care throughout the Church, he said.
“We have lost our ministering wife and mother and grandmother and friend and sister. How can anyone stand this? How can President Ballard stand this? How can he go on?”
He can because of “the anchor that meant everything, and continues to mean everything, in the lives of Barbara and Russell Ballard, the anchor that keeps them safe during stormy times and personal loss, that anchor that is their abiding conviction, their sure knowledge and uncompromising testimony of the life and mission, the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Holland said.
This family, “filled with grace, composure, serenity and strength,” will “carry on as living witnesses that God is our Eternal Father, that Jesus Christ broke the bands of death to grant us life everlastingly, and that with the sealing ordinances of the Holy Priesthood — exercised in the holy temple — life will continue to be lived as families.”
Daughter Holly B. Clayton spoke of her mother’s “peaceful and kind nature” and ability to “spread sunshine everywhere she went.”
Sister Ballard found joy in nature, taught her children to appreciate the elegance of the English language, and accepted those she met with love and without judgment. “Mom blessed the lives of so many,” she said.
Her children “were her everything,” except for President Ballard.
“Dad trumped all of us. He was the center of her universe. … And she was his.”
Craig B. Ballard said “simple faith was the hallmark of my mother’s life.”
“The simple personal touch my mother was what the Savior would do if he were here. She truly did live a Christ-like life.”
Music for the service was provided by David Archuleta, Melissa Garff Ballard, Dallyn Vail Bayles and Jenny Oaks Baker.