In honor of the late U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, President Ballard, U.S. presidents and other leaders talk about his faith in Jesus Christ

The late U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his funeral on Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada, was a reflection of that faith, said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

U.S. President Joe Biden, former U.S. President Barack Obama and other important American leaders spoke during the memorial service, and several of them added to its spiritual nature, talking about faith and Jesus Christ.

“A lot of the gospel was taught in gentle and loving ways, and the Spirit was felt by those in attendance,” President Ballard said. “It was a great tribute to a great man who has rendered tremendous service to his country as a senator and in other political offices.”

Reid died Dec. 28 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82. He had an abiding love for the gospel of Jesus Christ, according to President Ballard, who knew him well and considered him a dear friend.

President Ballard shared with the family the love and concern of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and personally delivered a letter from the First Presidency to the family.

“The depth of the real Harry Reid that I knew intimately is a Harry Reid who loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and who absolutely is true to the Restoration of the gospel and the reality of the life and mission of Joseph Smith the Prophet,” President Ballard said.

President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada.
President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Reid loved and embodied King Benjamin’s injunction that, “When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God,” President Ballard said during the funeral.

He exemplified that phrase, said President Ballard. He asked his ward leaders to assign him to home teach and minister to those who were out of work and most in need.

“Of Harry Reid’s religious leaders, many have commented that he was the best minister in their congregations,” President Ballard said. “Even during his years as one of the nation’s most powerful political leaders, he always made time to minister ‘to the least of these,’ one by one,” and did so “because of his faith in Jesus Christ.”

The other speakers all shared examples of Reid’s service and how he saw his work in Congress as a way to help the vulnerable.

“For Harry, the whole point of holding office, the whole point of wielding power, was to actually get things done on behalf of those you represent,” Obama said. 

Reid and Biden were friends for 50 years. Biden ordered all flags on federal property lowered to half staff on Saturday to honor Reid, whose friendship made Biden feel like they were brothers.

“A Catholic boy from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and the Latter-day Saint from Searchlight, (Nevada),” Biden said. “Harry would always have your back, like the guys I grew up with. Harry had my back and I had his.”

Biden and Obama said Reid and his wife, Landra Reid, were a great love story.

“Jill and I are here for Harry,” Biden said, “but he wouldn’t want us here just for him. Landra, we’re here for you and the family. Eulogies are for the living.”

President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada .
President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada . Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

At the end of his remarks, he added, “Landra, God bless you. God bless the entire family. God bless my friend, Harry.”

The service, also attended by numerous local government and community leaders in addition to the national leaders, was conducted by Marcus Faust, a Latter-day Saint lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and the son of the late Latter-day Saint apostle President James E. Faust.

He began the funeral by saying, “Like the apostle Paul, Harry Reid can now say, ‘I fought the good fight. I finished my course. I have kept the faith,’” which was displayed on a screen at the front of the Smith Performing Arts Center above Reid’s casket.

A quartet played Latter-day Saint hymns, including “In Humility, Our Savior” as prelude music. Church beliefs were scattered throughout the service.

One of them was shared by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said that he is Jewish and appreciated Reid’s spirituality, noting that Reid kept a Book of Mormon in his Senate office. 

“I’d like to read a verse from 2 Nephi, chapter 9, that gives me great comfort after the loss of my dear, dear friend and mentor,” Schumer said. “‘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…’ They are living souls. When you lose someone special, they are never truly gone. They always stay with you.”

Reid’s daughter, Lana Reid Barringer, said her father was loving, thoughtful and fun.

“Nobody loved me the way my dad loved me,” she said. “He was a wonderful father who loved me unconditionally, and he always made me and my brothers his priority. … I am grateful families are forever.”

One of his sons, Key, said his father manifested charity as taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Another called his father his best friend.

“I was delighted by the children’s remarks,” President Ballard said.

Reid had developed friendships with a Latter-day Saint singer from Nevada, Brandon Flowers of “The Killers,” and the Hall of Fame singer and songwriter Carole King. Both performed during the funeral.  Flowers sat at a piano and played and sang his groups’ ballad, “Be Still” — which included an addition of the Latter-day Saint hymn “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” King played “In the Name of Love.”

President Joe Biden speaks at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada.
President Joe Biden speaks at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Several of the speakers, including his children and President Ballard, noted Reid’s penchant for abruptly ending phone calls by hanging up without saying goodbye.

As he closed the service, Faust adapted a phrase from a popular 1970s song to describe Reid’s phone etiquette.

“Love means never having to say goodbye,” Faust told the dignitaries in attendance. “Because of the love of the Savior Jesus Christ, neither do we. Instead we say to Harry, God be with you until we meet again.”

President Ballard said Reid had been a good friend to the Church. He said he regularly called Reid for help with visas for missionaries.

The two spoke and visited even more frequently after Reid retired and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“In my calling as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, I had many personal visits with my friend Harry,” he said. “We would counsel together and share personal experiences of faith. In more recent years, 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!”

President Ballard went to the Reid home on Friday night to visit Landra Reid and some of their families.

“The opportunity to visit with Landra and the children was very special,” he said. “The family is very devout and the gospel is carrying them through this time.”

Sister Reid invited President Ballard to pray with the family on Friday night and to give the family prayer during its gathering at the Smith Center before the funeral on Saturday. He also visited with them following the service, sharing “the peace and assurance that this parting is for a short season.”

Reid’s casket will be flown to Washington, D.C., next, where he will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol. Afterward, Reid’s body will be buried in Searchlight.

President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada.
President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Ballard’s full remarks at the funeral:

President and Dr. Biden, Vice President Harris and Mr. Emhoff, former President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, and other distinguished friends, I greet you warmly as we gather to honor and remember our friend and colleague, Harry Reid.

To Landra, Lana, Rory, Leif, Josh and Key: It is an honor for me to be invited to speak as we pay tribute to your beloved husband, father, grandfather, and our dear friend. I know Harry loves each and every one of you deeply.

I bring the love of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Harry and Landra joined our church soon after their marriage at age 19, and they have been faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, with a firm belief that we are all brothers and sisters — children of a loving Father in Heaven.

In my calling as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, I had many personal visits with my friend Harry. We would counsel together and share personal experiences of faith. In more recent years, 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!

At times, Sen. Reid, he really was all business. When he would call, the conversation was usually quick and to the point. And when our conversation was over, I don’t ever remember him saying “goodbye.” The phone clicked, and the line was dead. That was Harry Reid. This morning, as I was with his family, I was finally able to say to my dear friend, “Goodbye.”

But there was another side to Harry. From his humble beginnings in Searchlight, Nevada, to his eventual prominence as a world leader, Harry Reid was a man of faith — in word and in deed.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ taught: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Harry cared for “the least of these” — those who were less fortunate, hungry, sick or those who had any number of challenges.

Sen. Reid was also a great teacher of this principle. On one occasion when speaking to students at the Brigham Young University he taught about his conviction for service. He said: “Many have chosen to pursue an educational direction pointed toward a lucrative field. … There is nothing wrong with seeking a career that will bring you financial success. But never forget the clarion call of (the Book of Mormon prophet) King Benjamin: ‘When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God.’” My dear friend Harry lived what he taught.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we strive to visit and care for the individual needs of others.

When we minister in this way, we are representing Jesus Christ and acting as his agents to watch over, lift and strengthen those around us. Of Harry Reid’s religious leaders, many have commented that he was the best minister in their congregations. Even during his years as one of the nation’s most powerful political leaders, he always made time to minister “to the least of these,” one by one.

Because of his faith in Jesus Christ, he never forgot to reach out to “the one.”

To you, Landra, and to your family, we have the assurance that Harry has returned to the God who gave us life and awaits his joyful reunion with you after this life. And through the perfect and eternal Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and your family can be reunited. I share my love for you and my witness as an Apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ, that this is true, and I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Guests arrive at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Guests arrive at the memorial service of Latter-day Saint and former United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints