The following biographical sketch is adapted from
the "News o:f the Church Elder J. Ballard Washburn of the Seventy" published
in the Ensign for May 1990 on the occasion of Elder Washburn's call
to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
Sitting in a testimony meeting as a little boy in his
hometown of Blanding, Utah, J Ballard Washburn heard his stake patriarch
explain that the members of the Church in that area were there not just
to raise cattle and go about other worldly business, but to take the gospel
to the Lamanites. “His comment touched a chord in my heart,” says Elder
That chord was to be touched again and again as the
little boy grew to manhood, became a foster parent to Lamanite children,
and eventually was called to preside over the Arizona Phoenix Mission—a
mission that encompasses three Indian reservations and part of a fourth.
He had a few months left to complete that mission when he was called as
a member of the Seventy.
Born 18 January 1929, J Ballard Washburn served from
1948 to 1950 in the New England Mission under Elder S.
Dilworth Young. “I learned from him that you have to give the missionaries
experiences that will teach them to love the Savior,” he says.
“I’ve tried to do that as a mission president.”
Elder Washburn learned to love the Savior early in
life. “As a boy, I worked one summer on a ranch. We couldn’t go into town
on the weekends, so I spent the time reading a small, pocket-sized edition
of the New Testament. That summer, I felt I got to know the Savior. More
particularly, I also felt that he knew me. It was another spiritual moment
in my life that helped build my testimony.”
One of ten children, Elder Washburn was a small boy
when his father, Alvin, died. “My mother, Wasel Black Washburn, moved the
family to Provo, Utah, so that all the children could go to school. She
also made sure that we all went to Brigham Young University. After she
put us through college, she went to school herself and graduated from BYU.”
As a freshman student, Elder
Washburn majored in music, but on his return from his mission, he switched
to medicine and became a doctor, but not before marrying Barbara Harries
in 1951 in the Salt Lake Temple.
“We met at BYU,” explained Sister Washburn. “I was
born in Salt Lake City, but my family moved to Columbus, Ohio. I went to
Ohio State University and then transferred to BYU.”
After completing his professional training at the
University of Utah Medical School, Elder Washburn set up practice as a
family doctor in Page, Arizona. “My profession has helped build my testimony,”
he says, “because it’s based on service. Not many professions can offer
that opportunity.” Part of that service has included delivering two generations
The Washburns are familiar with babies. They’ve had
ten of their own: two girls—Kay (Pearce) and Rebecca (Rudder); and Mark,
Jay, Andrew, James, Richard, David, Daniel, and Joseph. Joseph is in the
Missionary Training Center preparing to serve in the Italy Rome Mission.
All his brothers and sisters have served missions, the first five overlapping.
“We went through a period of seven years before the family was all together
again,” says Sister Washburn.
In addition to their own children, the Washburns
have had twelve foster Indian children in their home over the years, some
for just a few months and some for longer stays.
Being active in Church callings—including counselor
in a bishopric, stake president, and regional representative—Elder Washburn
still has had time to serve twenty years on a school board. He also enjoys
music and basketball.
His life of activity will serve him well. “I think
he brings the attributes of hard work and obedience to his new calling,”
says Sister Washburn. “He has always been obedient to the Lord and to the
Brethren.” That obedience has developed a strong testimony. “I know that
Jesus Christ is our Savior,” he says. “He loves us.”
Elder Washburn fulfilled his five-year call to the Second
Quorum of the Seventy with distinction and was honorably released on September 30, 1995.
Sister Barbara Harries Washburn, wife of Elder washburn, departed
this life December 4, 2008. She served faithfully in the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints as companion to her husband while he served as the president of the
Arizona Phoenix Mission. She served as temple matron while her husband served as
president of the Las Vegas Temple. She served with her husband while he was a member
of the Second Quorum of Seventy, spending three years in Africa.