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Remembering M. Russell Ballard, global faith leader, friend of the U

The University of Utah community is saddened by the death of global faith leader M. Russell Ballard.

Ballard died on Nov. 12 at age 95. At the time of his death, he was serving as acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and second in line to lead the Utah-based faith.

“President Ballard was a great friend of the University of Utah who recognized and valued the importance of our mission to educate Utah’s students,” said Taylor Randall, university president. “As a result, he served as an important advocate for the U and helped us deliver on our commitment to provide access and pathways to success for students.”

A Salt Lake City native, Ballard attended the U in 1950, where he met his wife Barbra Bowen. Before beginning full-time church service in 1974, Ballard owned and managed one of the state’s most successful car dealerships—Ballard Motors.

Ballard’s service extended beyond his faith. Notable among his many efforts was his co-founding of the Utah Alliance for Unity. The Alliance is a coalition of business, civic and religious leaders formed to create a more diverse and united state. Ballard played a key role in one of the group’s most significant achievements in 2002 when a compromise was crafted granting the church full access to a newly built plaza at the north end of Salt Lake City’s Main Street in exchange for 2.17 church-owned acres on the city’s west side for construction of a community center.

The U was another beneficiary of Ballard’s service.

“Whenever the U needed him, he gave freely of his time and energy to advise and provide counsel, he was always inspired to help the U,” Randall noted. “Multiple University of Utah presidents relied upon President Ballard for his guidance and his fireside chats at the U’s LDS Institute were legendary and attended by thousands.”