President David O. McKay (1873–1970)

“President David O. McKay (1873–1970)” Ensign, July 2010, 72

Great Lives Remembered

President David O. McKay (1873–1970)

Born in the small farming community of Huntsville, Utah, USA, on September 8, 1873, David Oman McKay learned hard work at an early age when his father was called back to his native Scotland on a mission and the seven-year-old boy helped his mother run the farm. They were so successful that when the senior David returned from his mission, mother and son were able to surprise him with a much-needed addition to the family home.

Following his own mission to England and Scotland, David became an educator and was the principal of the Weber Stake Academy when in 1906, at age 32, he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As an Apostle, David O. McKay traveled widely, stopping in many places that had never before been visited by a General Authority. When he became President of the Church upon the death of George Albert Smith in 1951, that international experience undoubtedly helped prepare him for the period of growth and outreach that was to come.

During President McKay’s administration, Church membership increased from 1.1 million to 2.8 million; the number of stakes grew from 184 to 500; and temples were built in Switzerland, New Zealand, and England. President McKay’s slogan “Every member a missionary” became the watchword for the whole Church.

When President David O. McKay died on January 18, 1970, at age 96, he had presided over the Church for nearly 19 years. In total, he served as a General Authority for nearly 64 years, longer than anyone else in Church history.

Above: Reviewing an architect’s rendering of the Bern Switzerland Temple. Right: As a missionary in Scotland in 1897. Below, right: The McKay home in Huntsville, Utah. Bottom: Riding one of his favorite horses. Bottom, left: The McKay family in Europe, 1922–24, while President McKay served as mission president.

Portrait painting of President Mckay by Everett Clark Thorpe, photographs courtesy of the Church History Library.