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He was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a youth he enjoyed singing and athletics. He was the quarterback of his high school football team and a halfback at the University of Utah. He is an Eagle Scout. Elder Wirthlin graduated from the University of Utah in business administration. He served a mission to Germany and Switzerland. When he returned in 1939, he took over the family business, because his father had been called to be the Presiding Bishop of the Church. Before his call as a General Authority, Elder Wirthlin was a prominent business leader in Salt Lake City. He was also president of a trade association in Utah. In 1940, he met Elisa Rogers. They were married on May 26, 1941, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have eight children and forty-six grandchildren.
Elder Wirthlin served as a bishop for ten years. He was then called to be a member of the stake high council and in June 1971 was called to be the first counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency. In 1975 he was called as an Assistant to the Twelve Apostles. From 1975 to 1984 his Church assignments included oversight of the southeast United States, the Caribbean Islands, and Brazil. In addition to these callings, Elder Wirthlin was managing director of the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee, the Relief Society, and the Military Relations Committee.
Joseph B. Wirthlin’s other callings in the Church have included serving as President of the Europe Area of the Church; directing Church affairs in Continental Europe, the British Isles, Ireland, and Africa; serving in the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy; and serving as executive director of the Curriculum Department and editor of Church magazines.
On October 9, 1986, Elder Wirthlin was ordained an Apostle of the Church. As an Apostle, he has served as a member of the Missionary Executive Council; the General Welfare Services Committee; the Church Board of Education and Boards of Trustees; the Leadership Training Committee; and First Contact of the Quorum of the Twelve for the Australia/New Zealand, Asia, Asia North, Pacific, and Philippines Areas.
Elder Wirthlin had gone to bed at his Salt Lake City home, and died peacefully at about 11:30 pm of causes incident to age. His oldest daughter, Jane Wirthlin Parker, was present. A member of the family had been staying and caring for Elder Wirthlin, whose wife, Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin, died in 2006. Elder Wirthlin continued his work as an apostle through the Thanksgiving holiday preceding his death.
Quotes from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
- "Those who walk in faith will feel their lives encompassed with the light and blessings of heaven. They will understand and know things that others cannot. Those who do not walk in faith esteem the things of the Spirit as foolishness, for the things of the Spirit can only be discerned by the Spirit."
- “Shall He Find Faith on the Earth?” Ensign, Nov. 2002
- "The Lord has warned repeatedly against the evils and designs of conspiring men in our day who would enslave us to our appetites and passions by tempting and tantalizing us with obscene images, words, and music. Through his servants the Lord has cautioned us strongly not to take into our minds thoughts that can harm our spirits. Since 1950, Church leaders speaking in general conference have counseled us some seventy-five times against unhealthy media consumption. In recent years, as standards of public decency and morality have declined and as public media have reflected and often led that decline, these words of loving concern from inspired shepherds of the Lord’s flock have come with more frequency and greater urgency. The watchmen on the tower have raised a warning voice."
- “Windows of Light and Truth,” Ensign, Nov. 1995
- Joseph Bitner Wirthlin on Grampa Bill's General Authority pages
- Joseph B. Wirthlin: A Life Full of Adventure and Joy that Surpasses Understanding
- Joseph B. Wirthlin, oldest apostle dies age 91 (LDS News Room)
- Wirthlin Eulogized as Humble, Kind
- Biography of Joseph B. Wirthlin
- ↑ http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/joseph-b-wirthlin-oldest-apostle-dies-age-91 - "Joseph B. Wirthlin, Oldest Apostle, Dies, Age 91", LDS Newsroom, 2-Dec-2008