When Latter-day Saint home teachers go to visit, they usually do not
take The 5 Browns to perform live in a family's living room.But for Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve and his home
teacher, Skip Daynes, visits like these are common occurrences.
Daynes has shown up at Elder Wirthlin's Salt Lake City home with
musicians The Crimson 4, Josh Wright and The Call Sisters.
"(Elder Wirthlin) got a kick out of them, because, you know, the
Call Sisters going to a general authority's house is a different kind
of thing," Daynes said.
Daynes, who is the president of Daynes Music in Midvale, Utah,
said that because he is in the music business, he is able to set up
special appointments like these.
"The thing that's really cool is these people are so thrilled to go over and visit him," Daynes said.
But even when there aren't any musicians performing for Elder
Wirthlin, Daynes, who has been Elder Wirthlin's home teacher for two
years, makes an effort to visit the 91-year-old a couple of times each
week, along with taking him to church every Sunday.
"What I can do is help his eight children, who take care of him
on a rotation basis, have at least those three hours of time that they
don't have to worry about their dad, because I'm there," Daynes said.
And although Daynes does have a home teaching companion from his
Bonneville Ward in the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake, he often takes his
Golden Retriever Colonel, who is a member of Intermountain Therapy
Animals, along for the visits.
Daynes explained how Colonel, as a pet therapy dog, is very
sensitive to people's feelings. He sits on the chair next to Elder
Wirthlin on visits, and lays his head on Elder Wirthlin's lap. Elder
Wirthlin immediately strokes Colonel's head and says, "Nice dog, nice
dog." Elder Wirthlin then gets "that little Wirthlin smile," and a
"little rosy part of his cheek that pops up when he's happy," which
happens when he pets the 9-year-old dog, Daynes said."The blood pressure of a person petting a dog goes down," Daynes said.
"It's a factual therapy function that actually works. It's fun to take
Colonel over there; he really likes to go see Elder Wirthlin. He sits
right up by him and looks at him and shows him the love he really
Among his visits to Elder Wirthlin's home with Colonel,
recruiting musicians to perform for the general authority, and taking
Elder Wirthlin for car rides to places like This Is the Place Heritage
Park, which they did a few weeks ago, Daynes keeps busy, said Susan,
his wife of 44 years.
"He's been so fabulous," Elisabeth McConkie, Elder Wirthlin's
daughter, said about Daynes. "He has gone above and beyond what a home
But Daynes said that he simply wants to repay Elder Wirthlin for
everything he has done, and felt like his call to home teach Elder
Wirthlin has been a great opportunity to do so.
"I'm paying a little bit back to what this marvelous man has given," Daynes said.
Daynes recalled a time when Elder Wirthlin was bishop in the
ward, when there were at least 46 priests, including Daynes. Daynes
said Elder Wirthlin wanted all of them to serve missions.
"It was a big challenge because, for him to say that, he had to
realize that my father was inactive and my mother wasn't a member."
Daynes claims he was the hardest of the 46 to get to serve a mission.
He explains this by telling how he spent time growing up on Jeremy
Ranch in Summit County.
"When you're a cowboy and you're off with sheep-herders doing
that all summer, while all my friends were playing basketball in the
city, I would assume that I would probably be the harder one to get (to
go on a mission)."But Daynes got some extra help from a friend who was serving a mission
in Uruguay at the time. His friend wrote Daynes a letter telling about
the small branch he was serving in.
"He said, 'I'm down here in Uruguay, and they assigned me a
horse. Since you like horses so much, you should come serve a mission
When Daynes filled out his mission papers, he requested Uruguay three times. And that's where he went.
But "I didn't ever see a horse," Daynes said.
Every priest from that ward ended up serving a mission, Daynes said.
And about a year ago, Daynes organized a reunion of all the priests from that ward.
"This is probably my best thing I did for Elder Wirthlin.
"People came from Canada, they came from all over the United
States. I was totally blown away by all these people that came just to
honor this man and recognize what he had done for them when he was a
bishop to get them on missions or change their lives."
Even though Daynes and Elder Wirthlin "go way back" — he said
they are the two oldest members of the Bonneville Ward — he said it is
sometimes difficult to home teach an apostle.
"It's pretty hard to teach an apostle of the church, but they say
they need it," Daynes said. "The scary part is what do you teach one of
But, he said, there were many times when he taught the month's
message, and Elder Wirthlin said afterward, "I learned something today
that I didn't know."
"It's only because when you are prepared to teach a lesson, you
need to have the spirit with you to be able to try and figure out what
you could say to a general authority to help them and motivate them to
do a little better, or take a particular subject and have them look at
it a different way."Whether it's taking musicians into his living room, delivering gifts
like peaches and apples, or taking him in rides in the car with the top
down, Daynes knows what his role is as Elder Wirthlin's home teacher
"My job is to keep him young-thinking."