A loving father who led rather than pushed is how children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, who passed away Dec. 1 at age 91.
At a press conference on Dec. 2, his son, Joseph B. Wirthlin Jr., described his father as a man who loved his family, and everyone else.
"He treated anybody he came in contact with as family," Brother Wirthlin said of his father. "We attended a stake conference a little over a month ago. Afterward, he greeted the entire congregation, [paying attention] especially to the young people."
Saying that Elder Wirthlin "walked the talk," Brother Wirthlin added, "He lived what he believed."
Brother Wirthlin, serving as family spokesman, said that his father had worked until the day of his death.
"He went into the office, yesterday (Monday, Dec. 1) to check his mail. He would go to the office every morning at 7 a.m. and I would bring him home about 5 or 5:30 when I was in town."
He said Elder Wirthlin's death was "totally unexpected."
"He went on his terms," Brother Wirthlin said. "He didn't want to be a burden. He was a very independent person. It was difficult for him when Mother passed; he often said to us children when we stayed with him, 'I hate to take you away from your own family.' I would say, 'OK, I'll see you in the morning.' He would say, 'No, stay with me.' "
Meeting with the media less than 12 hours after his father passed away, Brother Wirthlin said, "It's been a hard few hours for all of us as family, yet I think we're all happy he didn't suffer, that he was able to pass peacefully and be reunited with his wife and others on the other side."
Sister Wirthlin passed away Aug. 16, 2006. Brother Wirthlin expressed confidence that Elder and Sister Wirthlin were enjoying a reunion.
"They had a great love for each other. They would look at each other and often start to laugh. They would look at each others' eyes and you could see the love they had for each other and the dependence they had on each other."
Brother Wirthlin said his father appreciated and loved each of his family. "I don't ever remember him being any different from a normal parent. When we did something wrong [as children], we were corrected but he always came back with love, understanding and encouragement."
At the time of the press conference Tuesday morning, Brother Wirthlin said he had not returned to his father's home since the night before.
"I lowered the flag to half [staff] last night and left the Christmas lights on. He has been asking me for the last three weeks, 'When are you taking the flag down for the winter?' I said, 'Not yet.'"