LOCAL NEWS

President M. Russell Ballard’s humanitarian service will always be remembered by his friends

Nov 13, 2023, 9:43 PM | Updated: 9:49 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utahns reflect on the life and service of President M. Russell Ballard, who passed away Sunday night at the age of 95, his humanitarian service, and his efforts towards building interfaith relationships is something homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson says she’ll always cherish about her dear friend.

“I think for me, he epitomized the teachings of Jesus Christ, I honestly do,” said Atkinson. “And I think there are hundreds and thousands of people who learned from his example.”

Atkinson spoke on her special relationship with President Ballard and his wife Barbra Monday while reminiscing about their more than 25-year friendship.

“I’m really feeling kind of sad today, he was just such a good friend,” said Atkinson.

The first time Atkinson crossed paths with President Ballard she was at LDS Hospital visiting patients. Their paths then continued crossing over the years at various humanitarian events. Soon, the two found a friendship rooted in service and Christianity.

“He loved the work I was doing; it follows the mission of what they’re all doing in the Church of Jesus Christ,” said Atkinson. “He would often ask me about people with whom I was meeting and helping.”

President M. Russell Ballard’s humanitarian service, and his efforts towards building interfaith relationships is something homeless advocate Pamela Atkinson says she’ll always cherish about her dear friend. (KSL TV)

Atkinson says President Ballard often called her to ask about the work she was doing with the homeless community. She says one time he asked to visit a homeless camp with her.

“He was so gentle and kind to my homeless friends,” said Atkinson. “He never ever came across as being above anybody else, he just came across as President Russell Ballard.”

As an elder in the Presbyterian faith, Atkinson enjoyed President Ballard openly sharing his faith with her. “What I loved about him was his ease of talking about his faith and about Jesus Christ, he was so up front and honest,” she said.

She even smiles and says President Ballard would have liked her to join the LDS Church. She says one of her fondest memories of President Ballard is when he recently called her to ask if she would like a blessing.

“At the end of June, I got a call from him, he knew I was going to have a total knee replacement, he said would you like me to give you a blessing? And I said, you know I really would, that would be lovely,” said Atkinson. ‘It was the most beautiful thing, I didn’t even think about different faiths at that point, I thought this is pure Christianity.”

Atkinson’s friendship with President Ballard extended to his wife Barbra, who she says was a close friend. She says President Ballard’s sense of humor was often on display as the two chatted away at social events.

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles died late Sunday night. He was 95. (KSL TV)

“When Barbara came in and sat at the table I would aways go sit next to her and we would talk and talk and suddenly I would feel a hand on my shoulder and then hear President Ballard saying, “excuse me Pamela, do you have a chair to sit on somewhere?” And we would just laugh about it.”

While honoring Sister Ballard during her funeral services, Atkinson says she shared a moment of lightness with President Ballard that still brings her joy.

“I said oh, I listened to your talk this afternoon. He said what did you think of it? I said I thought it was quite Mormon-ish, and he let out this huge laugh and everybody was looking to see what he was laughing at!”

But it’s what happened after Sister Ballard’s service that Atkinson says embodies the man that President Ballard was.

“The Tuesday or Wednesday after that I got this letter from President Ballard, thanking me for my love for Barbara thanking me for going to the viewing and thanking me for being at the service,” she said. “I mean here is this man, this great leader of a worldwide church and he pens a letter to me because I was at the services for his beautiful wife Barbara, and he wanted to let me know that she loved me too.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Chad Daybell leaning over and whispering to his lawyer, John Prior during his murder trial...

Mary Culbertson

What’s next in the triple murder trial of Chad Daybell as it nears end

As the trial for Chad Daybell nears its end, many questions will be answered soon. The timeline of events to expect will include possibility of the death penalty, jury deliberation, and another trial phase.

35 minutes ago

Judge's gavel...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

UHP trooper charged with sexually abusing woman while off-duty

An off-duty Utah Highway Patrol trooper is now facing criminal charges accusing him of sexually abusing a woman.

57 minutes ago

Levi Wright, 3, vanished into a creek and was found a mile downstream in a near drowning. On Friday...

Brittany Tait

Family friend of Levi Wright gives update on boy’s condition, worldwide support

A Utah family continues to pray for Levi Wright, who was swept down a Beaver County creek one week ago and continues to fight for his life.

4 hours ago

Quinn McKay, second from the left, was a Marine in World War II in a unit that suffered heavy casua...

Mike Anderson

Utah veterans think of friends while preparing for honor flight

Monday was a special Memorial Day for more than 70 Utah war veterans who are preparing for an honor flight Tuesday.

13 hours ago

Police are searching for shooters who they say fired at another car while fleeing an alleged robber...

Andrew Adams

Police seek suspects after shots fired, crash in Sandy neighborhood

Police on Monday were looking for suspects following shots that were fired and a crash that took place close to a high-density housing development.

13 hours ago

Nine people have been displaced following a house fire Monday evening in Payson. (Payson Fire Depar...

Mark Jones

9 people displaced in Payson house fire, no injuries reported

Nine people have been displaced following a house fire Monday evening in Payson.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

President M. Russell Ballard’s humanitarian service will always be remembered by his friends