Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Wilford W. Kirton, Jr., General Counsel to 7 LDS Presidents
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The long-time general counsel to the LDS
Church and founder of Salt Lake City's Kirton & McConkie law firm,
Wilford W. "Bill" Kirton Jr., 78, died Sunday from cancer. He was
born April 16, 1922 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Wilford W., Sr. and
Janet Mackie Kirton. He married Arlene Tadje Sonntag, his childhood
sweetheart, in the Salt Lake Temple in 1943. Together they raised
five children, two boys and three girls. Arlene passed away in July
of 1992. On June 3, 1994 Bill was sealed to Lois Brewster Aste and
their family grew to five more children, 24 grandchildren and two
Bill served in the Air Force during World War II. He was a bombadier
pilot and attained the rank of Captain. He flew 31 missions over
Europe and received the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf clusters and
the Distinguished Flying Cross. He remained active in the Utah
National Guard before retiring as a Lietuenant Colonel.
Kirton graduated with honors from the University of Utah in Military
Science and later received his Juris Doctor Degree. He began his own
law practice in 1948 which grew to Kirton &McConkie that today has
more than 60 attorneys.
Kirton began serving as General Counsel for the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1964 at the request of then-LDS Church
President David O. McKay. He successfully argued that the Church
would be better served by an outside law firm acting as general
counsel. About half the work of Kirton and McConkie now benefits the
Kirton represented the Church before the United States Supreme Court
on key cases. It was his privilege to serve closely with seven
presidents of the LDS Church. His duties included managing the legal
affairs of the Deseret News, Deseret Book, Beneficial Development,
Zions Security Corp. and the Deseret Gym.
Kirton's partner, Oscar McConkie said that the Church and community
has lost a able friend. "A giant has been taken from the legal
profession," said McConkie. "Bill Kirton was a very able lawyer, but
more than that, he was a thoroughly good man -- the perfect lawyer to
represent a church organization."
Bill was the President and Founder of Attorney's Title Guaranty Fund
and a recognized authority on title insurance and real estate law.
He served on the Board of Directors of Beneficial Life Insurance
Company and was Secretary and General Counsel to Deseret Management
Corporation. He received the J. Reuben Clark Law Society's Citizen
He served faithfully as a high councilor, bishop, stake president and
regional representative. At the time of his passing, he was a sealer
in the Salt Lake temple and Salt Lake Ensign Stake Patriarch.
"He was a very purposeful person," said Randy Kirton, Wilford
Kirton's oldest son. "Near the end, he talked not of death but of
moving forward into the next life."
Wilford W. Kirton, Jr.
Salt Lake Tribune 24Jul00 P2
Law partner Wilford 'Bill' Kirton Jr. dies at 78
Deseret News 24Jul00 P2
By Gib Twyman: Deseret News staff writer
General Counsel to 7 LDS Presidents
Salt Lake Tribune 26Jul00 P2