Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Joseph B. Wirthlin Joseph B. (Bitner) Wirthlin

1917 - 2008

  •  Born 1917 Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Baptized as a child; Aaronic Priesthood as a youth; Melchizedek Priesthood as a young man
  • Mission to Germany and Switzerland late 1930s
  • Married Eliza Young Rogers 1941, Salt Lake Temple; eight children
  • Bishop, High Councilor, Counselor to Stake President
  • Assistant to the Twelve 1975-1976
  • First Quorum of Seventy 1976-1986
  • Presidency of the Seventy 1986
  • Sustained to Twelve and ordained Apostle 1986
  • Died 2008 Salt Lake City, Utah

    The following biographical sketch is adapted from an official Church biography of Elder Wirthlin.
    Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin was ordained an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 9, 1986. He was sustained and set apart as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 4 April 1975 and served in that capacity until he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1976. He was set apart in the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy on August 28,1986, where he was serving when called to be an Apostle in October of 1986.

    Elder Wirthlin was born in Salt Lake City to Joseph L. Wirthlin and Madeline Bitner Wirthlin. His father served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church.

    Elder Wirthlin graduated from the University of Utah in business administration. He is an Eagle Scout. He was active in athletics in high school and played football at the University of Utah.

    Before his call as a General Authority, he was a prominent business leader in Salt Lake City. He was also president of a trade association in Utah.

    Elder Wirthlin served a mission in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in the late 1930s. He served in stake and ward auxiliary positions, as a counselor in the Bonneville Ward bishopric for seven years, and as bishop of the same ward for nearly 10 years. He was a member of the Bonneville Stake high council and then served as a member of the stake presidency until he was called, on June 27, 1971, to be first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency. He served there until April 1975, when he was called as an Assistant to the Twelve.

    Elder Wirthlin served as General Authority area supervisor for the Europe Area from July 1975 to April 1978 and executive  administrator for the Southeast Area of the United States and the Caribbean Islands from 1978–1982. He then served as the executive administrator for Brazil from 1 July 1982–1984. He was the managing director of the Melchizedek Priesthood Committee, the Relief Society, and the Military Relations Committee from 1978–1984.

    From July 1984 to August 1986 Elder Wirthlin served as President of the Europe Area of the Church, directing Church affairs in Continental Europe, the British Isles, Ireland, and Africa. From August 1986 until his call to the Quorum of the Twelve, he served as a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, executive director of the Curriculum Department, and editor of Church magazines. He is presently serving 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.

    He married Elisa Young Rogers on May 26, 1941 in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of eight children and forty-six grandchildren.

    Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin, wife of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, passed away on August 16, 2006, of causes incident to age. Elder Wirthlin commented on his eternal companion in the Saturday afternoon session of October 2006 General Conference “She was my strength and my joy. Because of her, I am a better man, husband, and father. … I owe more to my wife than I can possibly express. I don’t know if there ever was a perfect marriage, but, from my perspective, I think ours was. … As Elisa was my greatest joy, now her passing is my greatest sorrow.”

    Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, the oldest living apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Monday night December 1, 2008, age 91.

    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.

    He had continued to work at his office right up until the Thanksgiving holiday.

    Funeral services were held at noon on Friday, December 5, at the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

    Biography of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
    Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation, p.543
    2005 Church Almanac, p.26
    “Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin Passes Away,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 127

Selected Discourses and Writings
Grampa Bill believes this to be the most complete listing available free on the web of Joseph B. Wirthlin's talks and articles. Please email the Grampa if you note any busted links, errors, or if you are aware of any Joseph B. Wirthlin talks or articles not listed here but available on the web.

Anchored in Testimony
Note: This is Elder Wirthlin's first General Conference address after he entered the ranks of the General Authorities as an Assistant to the Twelve.
General Conference, April 1975  
The Language of the Spirit General Conference, October 1975  
“There Am I in the Midst of Them”
Note: This is Elder Wirthlin's first General Conference address after he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
General Conference, April 1976  
Dikes versus Living Water General Conference, October 1976  
Let Your Light So Shine General Conference, October 1978  
In Football or in Life New Era, November 1978  
A Word to You: Generation of Destiny! BYU Devotional, 12 June 1979 MP3
Let Every Man Learn His Duty General Conference, October 1980  
Pondering Strengthens the Spiritual Life General Conference, April 1982  
The Worth of One: A Home Teacher’s Guide for Working with Inactive Members Ensign, January 1983  
Restoring the Lost Sheep General Conference, April 1984  
The Work of Our Priesthood Quorums Ensign, August 1984  
Pulling in the Gospel Net
Note: This is Elder Wirthlin's first General Conference address after he was ordained an Apostle and entered the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
General Conference, October 1986  
Little Things Count BYU Fireside, 26 October 1986 MP3
Patience, a Key to Happiness General Conference, April 1987  
Never Give Up General Conference, October 1987  
Little Things Count New Era, May 1988  
Without Guile General Conference, April 1988  
Pulling in the Gospel Net Friend, October 1988  
The Priesthood of God General Conference, October 1988  
Teaching by the Spirit Ensign, January 1989  
Seeds of Renewal General Conference, April 1989  
Running Your Marathon General Conference, October 1989  
Build It Right New Era, March 1990  
Personal Integrity General Conference, April 1990  
The Straight and Narrow Way General Conference, October 1990  
The Strait and Narrow Way Friend, May 1991  
Peace Within General Conference, April 1991  
Fruits of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ General Conference, October 1991  
Seeking the Good General Conference, April 1992  
"The Lord's Side" BYU Fireside, 2 August 1992 MP3
Spiritual Bonfires of Testimony General Conference, October 1992  
The Lord’s Side Ensign, March 1993  
One Journey through Life to the Temple Friend, April 1993  
Spiritually Strong Homes and Families General Conference, April 1993  
Our Lord and Savior General Conference, October 1993  
Live in Obedience General Conference, April 1994  
Priceless Integrity New Era, July 1994  
"Choose the Right" BYU Fireside, 4 September 1994 MP3
Deep Roots General Conference, October 1994  
Living Water to Quench Spiritual Thirst General Conference, April 1995  
Guided by His Exemplary Life Ensign, September 1995  
Windows of Light and Truth General Conference, October 1995  
Faith of Our Fathers General Conference, April 1996  
Christians in Belief and Action General Conference, October 1996  
Being Righteous in Our Hearts BYU Devotional, 21 January 1997  
“True to the Truth” General Conference, April 1997  
Valued Companions General Conference, October 1997  
It’s Your Choice New Era, February 1998  
We Believe in Christ Friend, March 1998  
The Time to Prepare General Conference, April 1998  
Cultivating Divine Attributes General Conference, October 1998  
Inspired Church Welfare General Conference, April 1999  
Growing into the Priesthood General Conference, October 1999  
Lessons Learned in the Journey of Life BYU Address, 10 November 1999 MP3
Finding a Safe Harbor General Conference, April 2000  
Growing into the Gospel Friend, September 2000  
"Live in Thanksgiving Daily" BYU Devotional, 31 October 2000 MP3
You’ll Grow into It New Era, November 2000  
Pure Testimony General Conference, October 2000  
Lessons Learned in the Journey of Life Ensign, December 2000  
The Law of the Fast General Conference, April 2001  
Pure Testimony New Era, September 2001  
“Live in Thanksgiving Daily” Ensign, September 2001  
One Step after Another General Conference, October 2001  
“Follow Me” General Conference, April 2002  
Spiritual Bonfires of Testimony New Era, June 2002  
The Book of Mormon: The Heart of Missionary Proselyting Ensign, September 2002  
Shall He Find Faith on the Earth? General Conference, October 2002  
Improving Our Prayers BYU Devotional, 21 January 2003 MP3
Special Witness: Our Lord and Savior Friend, April 2003  
The Unspeakable Gift General Conference, April 2003  
Following in Faith New Era, July 2003  
Three Choices General Conference, October 2003  
Special Witness: “Follow Me” Friend, February 2004  
The Two Guiding Lights BYU Fireside, 1 February 2004 MP3
Improving Our Prayers Ensign, March 2004  
Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts General Conference, April 2004  
Press On General Conference, October 2004  
It Starts in the Heart New Era, February 2005  
Hope and Faith: A Discussion with Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin Ensign, February 2005  
The Virtue of Kindness General Conference, April 2005  
Journey to Higher Ground General Conference, October 2005  
The Restoration and Faith Ensign, January 2006  
The Abundant Life General Conference, April 2006  
The Two Great Lights New Era, August 2006  
Sunday Will Come General Conference, October 2006  
What Is the Difference between Immortality and Eternal Life? New Era, November 2006  
Special Witness Friend, January 2007  
Life’s Lessons Learned General Conference, April 2007  

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