Brigham Young University President Jeffrey R. Holland will award Presidential Citations to two couples at the 113th commencement activities Friday.
Receiving awards will be Ariel and Arta Romney Ballif of Provo and Robert W. (posthumous) and Amy V. Thomas Barker of Kensington, Md.The honorees will be recognized for their civic, professional and religious accomplishments. The Presidential Citations were established in 1983 to honor outstanding individuals and groups.
Ariel S. Ballif served BYU as a full professor of sociology, chairman of the Department of Sociology, dean of the BYU Summer School, chairman of the athletic council, chairman of the curriculum committee and foreign student adviser before becoming professor emeritus.
He also served as mayor of Provo and city councilman and worked on local welfare, mental health and housing committees.
Church service has been an ongoing priority for the Ballifs. Within two years of their 1925 wedding, the Ballifs traveled to New Zealand to serve a three-and-a-half-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr. Ballif became principal of the LDS New Zealand Agricultural College and Mrs. Ballif taught at the school and organized and wrote lessons for the mission's first 52 Primaries.
While serving as an LDS stake president in 1955, Mr. Ballif received a call with his wife to preside over the New Zealand Mission. Under their leadership the members' donations increased 300 percent, a new temple was built and a new stake was organized.
Other goals were directed toward education. In the face of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Ballifs who had been teaching in Midway, Idaho sold their possessions and moved to California so Mr. Ballif could pursue graduate work at the University of Southern California. He received his master of arts degree in 1937 and his doctorate in 1945, both from USC.
His wife, after raising the couple's five children, received a bachelor's degree with highest honors from BYU in 1953, and a master's degree, also from BYU.
As an artist, Mrs. Ballif has exhibited works in one-woman shows in Provo and Salt Lake City. Her art has been accepted for exhibitions at the Springville Art Gallery and Brigham City Museum in Utah and at galleries in Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma and New York City.
More than 500 of her paintings are in private collections throughout the United States and Israel, many of which represent her specialty of miniature oils.
She hosted a "Challenge to Thought" program on a local radio station in Provo for five years and published a book of poetry called "The World and I." She wrote and illustrated several children's books. On many occasions, she has shared her writing, acting and artistic talents with numerous organizations, including her service as president of the Provo Players Guild for five years. As a participant in the BYU Leadership Program she taught literature and dramatic arts in Utah, Idaho, New Zealand and several other western states.
Robert W. Barker was a senior partner of the Washington law firm of Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer and Quinn and presided over the Washington, D.C., LDS Temple with his wife when he died in 1987.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Barker graduated from the University of Utah, where he received a bachelor's degree in history and political science and she earned a bachelor's degree and an elementary education certificate. Immediately after graduation, the Barkers moved to Southern California, where Mr. Barker completed armored field artillery training under Gen. George S. Patton for the invasion of North Africa in World War II. While serving with the 65th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, he participated in the invasion of Sicily and completed the capture of Palermo and Messina. His was the first assault artillery unit to land in Normandy at Utah Beach. Major Barker received the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
During this time Mrs. Barker worked for American Airlines. After three years in the war effort, the couple was reunited. Mrs. Barker again worked as an airline representative, this time for the U.S. Capitol, managing flights for senators and congressmen. Mr. Barkerenrolled in Georgetown University Law School, eventually earning the coveted Lucey Medal the award given to the student with the highest academic achievement in the class.
Mr. Barker joined a private law firm in Utah with his father Judge George S. Barker for three years before returning to pursue postgraduate law studies at Georgetown. He became associated as a law partner with Ernest Wilkinson, Glen Wilkinson and John Cragun and interrupted this opportunity long enough to serve as an administrative assistant to Utah Sen. Wallace F. Bennett.
For the next 24 years, Mr. Barkerpracticed law and represented several Indian tribes in their claims against the United States. During the Watergate hearings, he successfully represented Maurice Stans, former Commerce Secretary and chairman of the Finance Committee to Reelect President Nixon.
As vice president and general counsel of Bonneville International Corporation and its subsidiaries, a large portion of his practice was in the communications and telecommunications area.
The Barkers established a large scholarship fund for minority students at the BYU Law School. Robert was also a member of the National Advisory Board of the University of Utah Law School and a member of the Board of Visitors of the J. Reuben Clark Law School. BYU has established the Robert W. Barker Professorship in Law.
In addition to her ongoing service to her church, which includes seven years as a member of the Washington Stake Relief Society Board and two years as a matron in the Washington, D.C., Temple, Mrs. Barker has been active in PTA and other leadership positions, most recently chairing the Washington Women's Legacy Concert in Constitution Hall.
The Barkers raised six children.