Remembering Brother Balderas: Not Only a Prolific Translator, but a Kind Teacher
Contributed By Diane R. Tucker, Church News contributor
“I have worked with every President of the Church since George Albert Smith. I have stood at their side and translated for them. It was a wonderful task.” —Eduardo Balderas
I first became acquainted with the name of Eduardo Balderas when I was a young girl living with my family in Mexico. As was the case with many of the people who were investigating or joining the Church more than 50 years ago, we couldn’t help but notice the name of Eduardo Balderas as the person who translated many of the hymns that we were just learning to sing or the pamphlets the missionaries would give us to read.
An inspired meeting
Little did I know that a few years later, after I was married and came to live in Utah, I would have the opportunity to meet this wonderful, talented man and even have the privilege to work under his direction. I remember vividly the day when I was reading the Church News. There was an article entitled “Unto Every Tongue” (May 21, 1966), with a picture of several ladies who worked in the Translation Department and a picture of Brother Eduardo Balderas with Brother J. Thomas Fyans, who at that time was the department manager. After reading the article, I felt impressed to go and meet Brother Balderas personally to thank him for the influence his inspired translations had upon our family as we entered the waters of baptism.
At the time of my visit, Brother Balderas was in charge of Spanish translations for South America, Central America, and Mexico. Because of my professional background, he hired me to work for the department in June of 1966.
Through the years, I learned valuable lessons from a man who demonstrated the qualities of the Savior in the way he lived his life. He taught me humility not by word, but by his actions. During the many years he worked at Church headquarters, Brother Balderas associated with many Church leaders. “I have worked with every President of the Church since George Albert Smith,” he said. “I have stood at their side and translated for them. It was a wonderful task” (Church News, Nov. 1977). Notwithstanding the emotion and greatness of those occasions and the common human tendency to feel flattered by such experiences and honors, Brother Balderas always remained humble and never displayed worldly pride.
He also taught me perseverance and diligence. The words of the Savior, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) certainly applied to Brother Balderas. His numerous accomplishments translating Church materials, as well as an impressive list of major book translations done in order to take the gospel to the Spanish-speaking members of the Church, demonstrated his tireless efforts to utilize the talents and experience God had given him to further the work of the Lord on the earth. (See Ensign, June 1985.) In what became almost a daily occurrence, I would see him close the door to his office and utilize the lunch hour as a working hour, because he would eat his lunch while he worked on a project, either translating, reviewing, or proofreading.
He was also a beloved patriarch to the Spanish-speaking members of the Church. As he accompanied Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Council of the Twelve, to Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil, Brother Balderas had the opportunity to bless the lives of the leaders there as he gave 250 patriarchal blessings in three weeks. “It was an experience I’ll remember the rest of my life,” he said. “Had I not been blessed by our Heavenly Father, I would not have been able to do this. As many as 30 blessings were given on some days” (Church News, Dec. 23, 1967).
Through that special dimension of his life, he taught me what it means to endure and to teach in the Savior’s way. His example touched our family in a personal way when my husband and I were serving in Spain (1979–1982). Brother Balderas and his sweet wife, Rhea, were our guests at the mission home during the time he spent giving more than 600 patriarchal blessings to the members of the Church in that beautiful country. He would start very, very early in the morning and finish late at night. He not only spent time giving patriarchal blessings to the members, but he would take the time to lovingly teach them gospel principles one by one.
He passed away January 6, 1989. He was a kind, gentle, and remarkable man. I will forever be thankful for his teachings and for his legacy of dedication and love for the work of the Lord.
Those who still remember Brother Balderas always say that he was “un alma de Dios” (one of God’s souls). In Spanish, that saying has the connotation of being the most kind, the most honorable, the most just, the most humble person. Indeed he was.