As a colleague, friend and fellow apostle to President James E. Faust, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the LDS Church's Council of the Twelve shared his love and respect Friday for a man he's known for more than half a century.
"In my judgment there is no better example of manhood, church leadership and fatherhood," he told the Deseret Morning News.
In his earlier years, President Faust's experience as an attorney with Fabian & Clendenin, and his service as a Democratic representative in the Utah Legislature, "helped him to understand how important it was to be sure the facts were all being considered" in making decisions. Those qualities were paired with a "love and deep concern for all our Heavenly Father's children" as he shared his witness of Jesus Christ with people throughout the world.
The growth of the church in Brazil which is home to nearly 1 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was especially pleasing to President Faust, as he was one of the first missionaries to serve there, Elder Ballard said. "Any time he had the opportunity to be in Brazil, that's when he was the happiest." Whenever discussions about developments there would come up, "we would see a smile. ... He spent a lot of time there and could see the needs of the worldwide church. Consequently, he had great compassion."
In 1998, when he attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Porto Alegre Brazil Temple, he was made an honorary citizen of Sao Paulo in recognition of his lifelong ties to the city and the nation.
As an Air Force veteran of World War II, President Faust "loved America, the state of Utah and Salt Lake City," Elder Ballard said. "This is where he was born, and it was his home."
Looking beyond partisan politics, President Faust always was examining issues and events "for what was right and what needed to be done to see that we were working for the benefit and blessing of the people," he said.
President Faust was interested in "who people were, what they stood for and what values they would contribute to the nation and the community." In that spirit, "one of the great hallmarks of his life was service," Elder Ballard said. "He served his family, his nation, his community, and all through that he served and loved the Lord. To my knowledge, he did everything he was ever asked to do."
Seen by church members as quiet and unassuming, President Faust was "not always occupying the conversation" among his colleagues, "but when he spoke, you better be listening. He understood and was able to evaluate" readily the issues at hand and "how it would bless the lives of our Heavenly Father's children," Elder Ballard said.President Faust taught by example as he traveled with his colleagues to conferences, teaching both audiences and his traveling partners. "He was so wise and so gentle but so instructive in his capacity to lead and teach. ... I count it a great privilege to have known him. We extend our love and sympathy to (his wife) Ruth and his children and grandchildren, and to all the members of the church with the loss of our dear friend and associate."