Utah community attends funeral services for President M. Russell Ballard
Nov 17, 2023, 8:57 PM | Updated: 9:01 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – Those who walked Temple Square on Friday morning didn’t have to know President M. Russell Ballard personally to feel loved by him.
Some attending his funeral services at the Tabernacle on Temple Square knew him only as a leader for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“He just loved people,” Aaron Watson, a Church employee said. “He’s been a great example of how to treat people.”
Others, like Todd Larkin and Laura Larkin, knew President Ballard through small and simple moments together.
“Every interaction I had with him he made me feel like his best friend,” Todd Larkin said.
When Todd Larkin was called on a Church assignment, he met with then Elder Ballard. It was a time in his life when Todd Larkin’s son was struggling, something he mentioned.
“Elder Ballard said, ‘You call me anytime if there’s anything I can ever do for him,’ and that’s the way I remember him,” Todd Larkin said.
Laura Larkin met President Ballard through her work with American Indian Services. The founder of AIS was college friends with President Ballard.
The Apostle attended many events to support his friend throughout the years.
“He was always there at the front, leading, guiding, and supporting it,” Laura Larkin said. “We treasure every minute we’ve had to watch him and to spend with him.”
That close friendship was felt by those outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well.
Pamela Atkinson, a long-time homeless advocate and devout Presbyterian, was invited by the Ballard family to attend Friday’s services.
“The caring, concern, and the love that he emanates has touched the lives of thousands of people,” Atkinson said.
She remembers how President Ballard took the time to let Atkinson know he cared.
“I wanted to thank him for all that I’ve learned from him,” she said. “He really surprised me and says ‘It goes both ways, Pamela, I’ve learned from you too.’”
In a statement released minutes before the services, Bishop Oscar A. Solis and the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City said “President Ballard was a man of integrity and true friend of our Catholic bishops, many of our clergy and other leaders.”