Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008)

Information from Don L. Searle, “Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: Finding Happiness Serving the Lord,” Ensign, Dec. 1986, 8.


Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles passed away on December 1, 2008, at age 91. He was born June 11, 1917, in Salt Lake City, the oldest of five children.

When he was young, Joseph liked to sing, and he performed in operettas in elementary and junior high school. As he got older, he became a good athlete. In a basketball contest, he made 19 out of 20 free throws! He played football in high school, and his teammates called him “Mr. Touchdown.” He also played football at the University of Utah.

Joseph was a kind older brother and a good example. He worked hard in school and took his Church duties seriously. He served a mission in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in the late 1930s. When he got home, he met and married Elisa Young Rogers.

Sister Wirthlin said she was impressed with him because he was active in the Church, a good student, and had a good sense of humor. But more than that, he was “kind and gentle,” and she “liked his spirituality.”

Elder and Sister Wirthlin have eight children. Sister Wirthlin passed away in 2006.

Elder Wirthlin was ordained an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 9, 1986. He lived a life of humble, heartfelt service to the Lord. He always tried to do his best, and he encouraged everyone else to do likewise. He said, “Let us walk in the right direction, taking one step after another. … We don’t have to be perfect today. We don’t have to be better than someone else. All we have to do is to be the very best we can.” *

Black-and-white photographs courtesy of the Wirthlin family; painting by Cloy Kent

Show References

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    “One Step after Another,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 27.