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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended July 30, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 27Jul00

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 great-grandchildren.

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 LDS Church.

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 Lawyer award.

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


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