|Birth: ||Dec. 8, 1968|
Salt Lake County
|Death: ||May 24, 1989, Bolivia|
Jeffrey Brent Ball (December 8, 1968 - May 24, 1989) was an American Latter-day Saint missionary who was killed along with his companion Todd Ray Wilson in La Paz, Bolivia by a guerrilla terrorist group calling itself Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Zárate Willca (or Zarate Willka Armed Forces of Liberation).
Prior to his full-time missionary service, Jeff Ball was a popular student at North Summit High School in Coalville, Utah. He was the captain of the very successful football team during his senior year. As a missionary, he struggled to speak Spanish but was well-regarded for his sincere and earnest service. If the Zarate Willka organization's intent was the kill an American, they couldn't have chosen a more "all-American" example to target. If their intention was to kill a Latter-day Saint missionary, they couldn't have chosen a more hard-working and faithful example.
The day following the murders of Elder Ball and Elder Wilson, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement which read, in part, "We regret that anyone would think that these representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have been sent to preach the gospel of peace, would be characterized as enemies of any group. They have died as martyrs in the cause of the Lord." Six days after his death in Bolivia, Jeffrey Brent Ball was honored at a funeral service in Coalville, Utah. The President of the church, Ezra Taft Benson, who was in frail health due to age, briefly spoke. Other speakers included President Thomas S. Monson, who was the second counselor in the First Presidency at the time, and Elder M. Russell Ballard. Elder Ball's sister, who had been serving as a full-time missionary in Guatemala, returned home early and also spoke at the funeral for her brother.
The body of Jeffrey Brent Ball is buried on the east side of the Coalville, Utah Cemetery. The back of the gravestone includes the inscription, "I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it." There is nothing on the gravestone to indicate the unusual circumstances of his death, unlike the gravestone of his companion, Elder Wilson.
Following the murders of Elder Ball and Elder Wilson, violence against Latter-day Saint missionaries in South America escalated. Three more missionaries were murdered in Peru by a similar, anti-U.S. terror group, although the missionaries murdered in Peru were natives of South America. Soon after this, all native North American missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were withdrawn from the area for several years.
Maintained by: Diana Enos Hammock
Originally Created by: Utah State Historical So...
Record added: Feb 02, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 72936
Added: Nov. 19, 2012
Added: Oct. 15, 2011