Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, age 91, Has Passed Away

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, age 91, Has Passed Away

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 02, 2008

The KSL announcement here.

The Church News is publishing GA Christmas memories — Elder Wirthlin’s was published yesterday.

The Salt Lake Tribune announcement here.

And it finally appears on the Deseret News website here.

Your memories and other comments are very welcome — but please, for the time being, let’s avoid all speculation on who will replace Elder Wirthlin in the Quorum of the Twelve.



  1. That’s too bad. I always liked Elder Worthlin. He was European Area President when I was on my mission. I’ll never forget his last Sunday in Frankfurt. He was asked to say a few words in sacrament meeting. His last comment was for the ward to support its missionaries. Then he complemented the missionaries (of which I was one). Afterward, I thanked him for his comments. He returned to SLC and a few weeks later was called to be an Apostle.

    Comment by Steve C. — December 2, 2008 @ 7:35 am

  2. I for one and happy for him. 91 years is a good long life. He lived honorably and deserves a rest. I guess there won’t be much of a rest as there will certainly be work for him to do in the afterlife.

    Godspeed Elder Wirthlin.

    Comment by Ian M. Cook — December 2, 2008 @ 8:21 am

  3. We have been blessed with a long line of great men in our church leadership. Elder Wirthlin was definately one of them. That does not happen by accident.

    Comment by BruceC — December 2, 2008 @ 8:52 am

  4. The image of Elder Wirthlin being held by Elder Nelson as he finished his conference talk last year will stay with me for a long time. I loved his gentle demeanour.

    Comment by gomez — December 2, 2008 @ 9:09 am

  5. Thanks for letting those of us know who aren’t directly in high-density Mormon areas. I agree with gomez–that was a loving moment.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — December 2, 2008 @ 9:19 am

  6. I woke up this morning to my wife announcing Elder Wirthlin had passed away. Thanks for all of the links, Ardis. I’ll remember Elder Wirthlin as a kind, gentle, and genuinely good man. There was a sincerity in his words that resonated with me initially as a young missionary and that has stuck with me to this day.

    Comment by Christopher — December 2, 2008 @ 9:21 am

  7. I bet he wishes he could have lived for another few weeks so he could see his beloved Utah football team play in a BCS bowl.

    Gosh, I’m going to miss him.

    Comment by Mark Brown — December 2, 2008 @ 9:47 am

  8. Thanks for the information. Best wishes to his family.

    Comment by Edje — December 2, 2008 @ 9:55 am

  9. I only met him once, while I was in the MTC. It was fun to watch him and President Monson joke with one another sitting right in front of me.

    He always inspired me. I always said he was the best kept secret of general conference, as he talks were always the best to read after conference was over.

    I will miss him.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 2, 2008 @ 10:06 am

  10. Good point, Matt. Just last week my wife and I concluded that his talks are often unremarkable when you hear them, but great when you read them.

    This statement from his conference sermon in October seems appropriate to quote here:

    One of the blessings of the gospel is the knowledge that when the curtain of death signals the end of our mortal lives, life will continue on the other side of the veil.

    Comment by Mark Brown — December 2, 2008 @ 10:14 am

  11. Rest, rest for the weary soul.

    A well-deserved one, and a joyous reunion with his beloved Elisa. It’s our loss, not his, that deserves mourning.

    Comment by Mark B. — December 2, 2008 @ 10:28 am

  12. He seemed just like a regular guy, which is not something I’d generally ascribe to most general authorities (this is NOT a criticism of other general authorities). He really did seem like the kind of guy you’d watch a football game with.

    I bet he wishes he could have lived for another few weeks so he could see his beloved Utah football team play in a BCS bowl.

    Actually, his passing is probably a blessing in that regard, lest he have to witness the beatdown ‘Bama will put on his Utes.

    Comment by queuno — December 2, 2008 @ 10:55 am

  13. I especially loved his last General Conference talk where he won the Biggest Laughs award for his retelling of the story of his daughter and the blind date.

    What a way to finish – happy, lighthearted and loving.

    Comment by Hunter — December 2, 2008 @ 11:55 am

  14. I wrote this on T&S, but since that site always seems to be down I will put it here too:

    My dad’s mission president was sent home unexpectently for several reasons while my dad was serving in the mission office. Elder Wirthlin, then an area authority, became the temporary mission president while they looked for a permanent replacement. My dad had gotten used to the previous president’s stern demeanor and tense attitude, and was taken back by Elder Withlin’s laid-back attitude and constantly cheerful approach.

    One day, Elder Wirthlin called my dad into his office and said, “Elder Park, do you know what the signal is that you have had a good day at the office?” My dad responded that he didn’t. “Well,” Elder Withlin continued, “you can tell you had a good day when your desk is completely clean and empty.” Perplexed, my dad looked at Elder Wirthlin’s desk which had several tall cluttered piles as well as various papers scattered throughout the surface. Then, Wirthlin opened up a large drawer, extended is large arm, and proceeded to sweep everything from off of the desk until it all tumbled into the drawer. “Well,” he then said, “I guess it’s time to head home.”

    Comment by Ben — December 2, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

  15. I will miss him greatly. His orchestra reference probably is my favorite General Conference statement of all time.

    Comment by Ray — December 2, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

  16. #14 – AWESOME!

    Comment by Ray — December 2, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

  17. I loved his talks at general conference. I will miss him terribly.

    Comment by kevinf — December 3, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  18. I find it awesome how God can connect his sheep to his shepherds through the spirit.
    I feel a connection to elder Wirthlin as Ive embraced his words, I feel true loss at his passing.

    Till we meet again…..

    Comment by Brad — December 11, 2008 @ 7:22 am

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