Joseph Bitner Wirthlin was born on June 11, 1917, in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a youth he enjoyed singing and athletics and was the quarterback on his high school football team and a halfback at the University of Utah. He was called on a Mormon mission to Germany and Switzerland. When he returned in 1939, he took over the family business, because his father had been called to be a General Authority and did not have time to do it. In 1940, he met Elisa Rogers. They were married on May 26, 1941, in the Salt Lake Temple. They eventually had eight children.He was called to be a bishop in his ward and served in that calling for ten years. He was then called to the stake high council and in June 1971 was called to be the first counselor on the Sunday School General Presidency. In 1975 he was called as an assistant to the Twelve Apostles. From 1975 to 1978 he watched over the Church in the Southeast Area of the U.S. Then from 1978 to 1982 he watched over the Church in the Caribbean Islands. From 1982 to 1984 he directed the Church in Brazil. In addition to these callings, Joseph B. Wirthlin was also the 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, President of the Europe Area of the Church, directing Church affairs in Continental Europe, the British Isles, Ireland, and Africa, a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, executive director of the Curriculum Department, and editor of Mormon Church magazines.
On October 9, 1986, Joseph B. 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.” (lds.org)
Joseph B. Wirthlin passed away on December 2, 2008, at the age of 90.