“Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin Passes Away,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 127
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 recently in the Saturday afternoon session of general conference (see p. 28): “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.”
Elisa Rogers, the youngest of four children, was born on June 22, 1919, in Salt Lake City. She and Elder Wirthlin were married in the Salt Lake Temple on May 26, 1941, by David O. McKay, then a counselor in the First Presidency. Elder Wirthlin was called to be an Apostle in 1986.
Sister Wirthlin is a direct descendant of Utah pioneers. Her father, Orson Madsen Rogers, was the grandson of Aurelia Spencer Rogers, the first president of the Primary, organized in Utah in 1878. Her mother, Bernice Young, was the granddaughter of Joseph Young, the brother of President Brigham Young.
A graduate of the University of Utah with a degree in business education, Sister Wirthlin worked as a secretary in the administration office of the university until she had her first child. Later she helped her husband with secretarial work in their home while he managed the family business.
The Wirthlins are the parents of seven daughters and one son. All of their children were students at Uintah Elementary School, Roosevelt Junior High School, and East High School—the same schools Sister Wirthlin attended in her youth. While her children were going to school she was active in the PTA, and as an opera club member she taught an opera appreciation class for children.
She did not travel often while the children were young and went on her first airplane flight when she was in her 50s. Since that time she has traveled to many countries with her husband on Church assignments. The Wirthlins lived in Germany for five years, where she developed a great love for the country and the people.
During her service in the auxiliaries in the Church, she was deeply touched when opportunities came to her to assist families suffering with sickness or having other needs. With the philosophy that where you are is the best place to serve, she enjoyed every opportunity to give of herself.
In a special place in her home is an antique chair given to Sister Wirthlin by her mother. She often sat in that chair and read the scriptures and other materials for comfort, encouragement, and enjoyment. Playing tennis, knitting, and walking were additional interests Sister Wirthlin pursued. She also delighted in the association she and her husband had with their 8 children, 46 grandchildren, and 49 great-grandchildren.