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Elisa Wirthlin, wife of Elder Wirthlin, dies at 87

Funeral Monday at noon for U. alumna and the mother of 8

Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin
Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin

Elisa Young Rogers Wirthlin, wife of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve, died Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006, in Salt Lake City of causes incident to age. She was 87.

Born June 22, 1919, in Salt Lake City to Orson Madsen Rogers and Bernice Young Rogers, she was the youngest of four children and descendant of early leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was a great-granddaughter of both Aurelia Spencer Rogers, first president of the church's Primary organization for children, and of Joseph Young, brother of former church President Brigham Young.

A graduate of East High School, Mrs. Wirthlin earned a degree in English at the University of Utah, where she served as president of Lambda Delta Sigma, a religious sorority. The sorority years later honored her as its Woman of the Year.

She met her future husband when they were both students at the U., and the couple was married May 26, 1941, in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. Speaking to Brigham Young University students in November 1999, Elder Wirthlin recalled a Christmas Eve while serving as a missionary in Germany, where he told his missionary companion the traits he sought in a wife.

"I didn't know her name, but I had in my mind the type of person she would be — one who lived the gospel and who was strong spiritually. I even described her to my companion — that she would be 5-foot-5, that she would have blue eyes, and that she would have blond hair.

Once he completed his mission, Elder Wirthlin had heard about Elisa Rogers, and went to her home to pick up her sister as a favor for a friend. When Elisa opened the door, "I stared. There she was, beautiful, 5-foot-5, blue eyes, blond hair."

Following their marriage, she worked as a secretary in the U.'s administration office until the first of their eight children was born. She also did secretarial work at home to help with the family meat purveying and grocery business.

She was active in the local PTA and participated in an opera club, teaching an opera appreciation class for children. She enjoyed reading in an antique chair given to her by her mother, along with playing tennis, knitting and walking. Her son, Joseph Jr., said she enjoyed playing tennis several times each week until the day of her death.

"She never accepted mediocrity . . . She would never criticize you but would correct you, and she would never be critical of anyone. She was a defender of the 'down and out-er' and everyone was always welcome in our home."

She served in the LDS Primary and Relief Society organizations, and enjoyed opportunities to assist those in need.

Her husband was called as an LDS general authority in 1975, and as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1986, providing her the opportunity to travel to many countries with him on assignments for the church, including a five-year assignment in Germany.

Funeral services are scheduled Monday at noon at the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake Center, 1535 Bonneview Drive (1050 South).

Friends and family may call at Larkin Mortuary, 260 E. South Temple, on Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m., or Monday at the church from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the LDS Church's Humanitarian Center.