Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2001), 543–46.
Born: 11 June 1917, Salt Lake City, Utah
Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve: 4 April 1975
First Quorum of the Seventy: 4 October 1976
President of the First Quorum of the Seventy: 1 August 1986
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: 4 October 1986 (age 69)
A seven-year-old-boy in a typical Salt Lake City ward was listening intently to an elderly sister bear his testimony in a fast and testimony meeting. The sister bore her testimony with such spiritual depth and conviction that the young boy received a powerful witness of the truth of what was being said. The boy was Joseph B. Wirthlin, who would later become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Although he did not remember who the sister was, he never forgot the feeling he had. Of this early experience, Elder Wirthlin said, “She spoke with such fervency that it electrified me to the point that I partook of this great spirit as to the truthfulness of the gospel.” 
Born in Salt Lake City to Joseph L. and Madeline Bitner Wirthlin, the young Elder Wirthlin had many talents. He could sing very well and participated in operettas during elementary and junior high school days. He earned his Eagle Scout award at age thirteen, which was a record at that time. He also had a talent for athletics and at an early age won the intermountain free-throw competition by making nineteen out of twenty baskets. Athletics became his biggest area of success in high school, where he starred as quarterback on the East High School team. His success in football continued during his college years at the University of Utah, where he played halfback and won the Football Scholarship Award; he loved football but gave up playing his senior year to serve a mission in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from 1937 to 1939.
Elder Wirthlin graduated from the University of Utah in 1941 with a degree in business management. That same year on 26 May he married Eliza Young Rogers and took over the family business, Wirthlin’s, Inc., a supplier of meats to retail customers, restaurants, and institutions. His father had relinquished the management of the business in 1938 to serve as second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric under LeGrand Richards. Fourteen years later, in 1952, Elder Wirthlin’s father became the presiding bishop of the Church, a position he held until 1961. Elder Wirthlin had grown up working for his father. His parents believed in teaching their children to work hard and well. They took on the task of raising five hundred rabbits and three hundred chickens “for one purpose only, and that was to keep us busy,” Elder Wirthlin recalled. “They grew so fast that I became discouraged and pled for my parents to sell some of them. Finally, we sold them, and that was a joyous day.” 
His faith was always strong: “Since early childhood I have never doubted nor had a question as to the divinity of the Church. . . . My faith and testimony have grown ever since.”  And Elder Wirthlin saw the power of the Lord manifest in his family many times: “One incident I recall vividly. My father jumped over a fence and broke his ankle. It was a severe break, and we all expected it would be several weeks or even months before it healed. But Father was administered to by his two counselors in the bishopric, and two days later he was walking normally. As a young boy, this impressed me mightily.” 
Brother and Sister Wirthlin became the parents of eight children—seven daughters and one son. One of their daughters recalled how Elder Wirthlin would traditionally have a gospel discussion following Sunday dinners. He would ask them “what they had learned in Sunday School that morning, then expand on it, often teaching from the scriptures. As they got older, he would involve visiting boyfriends or future spouses in these discussions.”  While raising his family, running his business, and being active in several trade associations, Elder Wirthlin held numerous demanding Church callings: he was a bishop for nearly ten years, was in the presidency of the Lake Bonneville Stake, and was on the Sunday School General Board. In June 1971 he was called into the presidency of the general Sunday School, where he served until his call as an Assistant to the Twelve in April 1975. He remained in this calling until October 1976 when the position of Assistant to the Twelve was discontinued and those brethren in it were called to be members of the First Quorum of the Seventy. After ten years he was called into the presidency of that quorum. Two months later, on 4 October 1986, Elder Wirthlin was sustained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.
In his many years as a general authority, Elder Wirthlin has been an executive administrator over the Europe Area, the Southeast Area of the United States, and the Brazil Area. In 1984 he was called as the area president over Europe and Africa. He and Sister Wirthlin lived in Frankfurt, Germany, for two years, traveling extensively on that assignment. He also rendered invaluable service in heading up the Church Curriculum Department and serving as editor of Church magazines.
When he was first called as a general authority, Elder Wirthlin testified of his willingness to serve long and faithfully: “I give you my life and my service. I will go where you want me to go and I will do my best to build up the Kingdom of God here upon the earth.” 
 Gerry Avant, “A Singleness of Purpose Gives Direction to New Apostle’s Life,” Church News, 19 October 1986, 5.
 Avant, “Singleness of Purpose,” 11.
 “Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve,” Ensign, November 1986, 96.
 “Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve,” 96.
 Don L. Searle, “Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: Finding Happiness Serving the Lord,” Ensign, December 1986, 8–13.
 Avant, “Singleness of Purpose,” 11.