Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
David O. (Oman) McKay

1873 - 1970

  • Born 1873 Huntsville, Utah
  • Baptized as a child; Aaronic Priesthood as a youth; Melchizedek Priesthood as a young man
  • Patriarchal Blessing at age 13
  • Attends U of U 1894-1897; Graduates as Valedictorian
  • Mission to Scotland 1897-99
  • Married Emma Ray Riggs 1901, Salt Lake Temple; seven children
  • Ordained an Apostle 1906
  • President of European Mission 1922-24
  • Second Counselor to Heber J. Grant 1934-45
  • Second Counselor to George Albert Smith 1945-51
  • Ninth President of the Church 1951-1970
  • Died 1970 Salt Lake City, Utah

    David Oman McKay was the ninth President of the Church of Jesus Christ. Probably more than any other President of the Church, he looked like a prophet and undoubtedly could have been chosen by his friend Cecil B. DeMille to play one in the movies.

    David O. McKay was born September 8, 1873 in Huntsville, Utah as the third child of David McKay and Jennette Evans McKay.

The David McKay Family
His childhood saw both tragedy and hardship when at the age of six, two older sisters died and then scarcely a year later, his father was called to a mission. David O. became the man of the house. Through hard work and frugal management, he and his mother ran the family farm so well that they were to surprise his father with a much needed addition to the house when he returned from his mission.

    Young David continued to attend school, work on the farm, and, during the summer, deliver the Ogden Standard Examiner to a nearby mining town. He had an insatiable hunger for learning, and during his round trips on horseback, he spent much of the time reading and memorizing passages from the world's great literature that were later to permeate his sermons and writings. He also loved riding horses, swimming, and other sports; dramatics; debate; singing; and playing the piano with the Huntsville town orchestra. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1897 as Class President and Valedictorian.

    From 1897 to 1899, he served in Great Britain as Missionary, spending most of that time in Scotland, the land of his ancestry. He returned home in the fall of 1899 and accepted a teaching position at Weber Stake Academy. On January 2, 1901, he married Emma Ray Riggs in the Salt Lake Temple; they had seven children.

    He began a career in teaching and assumed that would be his lifetime vocation. He was fully satisfied with what he believed would be a lifelong career in education when in 1906 everything changed: three members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles died, and David O. McKay, at age thirty-two, was called to that quorum.

    Elder McKay was the most widely traveled Church leader of his day, an ambassador to a worldwide Church. In 1920-1921 he toured the missions of the world, stopping at many places never before visited by a General Authority. From 1922 to 1924, he was back in Europe, this time as president of the European Mission (see Europe). His success there became legendary, as he did much to improve the public image of the Church. He also revitalized missionary work by urging every Latter-day Saint to make a commitment to bring one new member into the Church each year. In later years he became famous for his motto "Every member a missionary," an emphasis that began in Europe in 1923. In addition, he urged the Saints to remain in Europe rather than to emigrate to America, promising them that one day the full program of the Church, including sacred temples, would be made available in their homelands.

    In 1934, Heber J. Grant chose David to be his Second Counselor in the First Presidency. Seventeen years later, he succeeded George Albert Smith to become President himself. President McKay's administration was one of unprecedented growth. Indeed, when he died, it was said that two thirds of the membership of the Church could remember no other President. Nevertheless, it was a period of challenges, many of them occasioned by that very growth. The first stakes outside of North America were organized during his administration. Finding local leadership in nations where the Gospel seed had only recently been planted caused much concern and the Brethren were constantly traveling to insure that false doctrine did not creep in to the newly organized stakes.

    President McKay was privileged to announce and later dedicate the Temple in Bern, Switzerland, one that perhaps set the pattern for the smaller Temples that are beginning to dot the land today.

    President McKay was a great innovator and needed to be to solve the myriad of problems the growing Church faced. In 1961 he authorized ordaining members of the First Council of the Seventy to the office of high priest, which gave them the right to preside at stake conferences and thus eased the growing administrative burdens of the Quorum of the Twelve, and in 1967 he inaugurated the position of Regional Representative of the Twelve. In 1965 he also took the unusual step of expanding the number of counselors in the First Presidency, as his own ability to function effectively became impaired with age.

    David O. McKay died January 18, 1970, well beloved by his people. At the time of his death, two out of every three members of the Church had known no prophet other than President McKay.

   LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 3, p.760
   Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay
   Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2, MCKAY, DAVID O.
   Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.4, Appendix 1
   2005 Church Almanac, p. 54

Selected Discourses
Grampa Bill believes this to be the most complete listing available on the web of David O. McKay's talks. Please email the Grampa if you note any busted links, errors, or if you are aware of any David O. McKay talks not listed here but available on the web.

You will note that some are available only as text; while others are available only in the MP3 Audio format.

Talks marked with an asterisk (*) are not (to my knowledge) available anywhere else on the web. As a service, they have been copied onto this web site.
Individual Responsibility *
Note: Although he received the Apostolic calling in April 1906, it was October 7th of that year before Elder David O. McKay delivered this, his first General Conference address.
General Conference 7 October 1906  
Mission Report *
Note:Elder David O. McKay of the Council of the Twelve Apostles was the most widely traveled General Authority of his day. In 1920 and 1921 he toured virtually every mission in the world. Then, scarcely having time to catch his breath, he was called to preside over the European Mission from 1922 to early in 1925. He returned home just in time to be called on to give this report to the Ninety-fifth Annual General Conference of the Church.
General Conference 4 April 1925  
Baccalaureate Address BYU Baccalaureate 1 June 1951 MP3
A Presidential Triplet *
Note:Three addresses from the General Conference in which David O. McKay was sustained as President of the Church
General Conference 7 October 1951  
Message for LDS College Youth BYU Devotional 10 October 1952 MP3
Five Ideals Contributing to a Happy and Enduring Marriage BYU Devotional 11 October 1955 MP3
Gospel Ideals: Life's Surest Anchor BYU Devotional 30 October 1956 MP3
God Our Father: His Gospel Plan BYU Devotional 5 November 1957 MP3
Two Contending Forces
Note: Delivered before the days of Political Correctness and the Correlation Committee. Hear how a Prophet of God describes a man who would abandon his unborn child! Hear also the Prophet's comments on communism and its founder.
BYU Devotional 18 May 1960 MP3
As a man thinketh Unknown MP3
Whither Shall We Go? BYU Devotional 10 May 1961 MP3
The Nature of Man and God *
Note:President David O. McKay was unable to attend General Conference the last few years of his life due to circumstances of age and health. Nevertheless, he prepared talks which were delivered in his behalf by someone else, generally one of his sons. This is the last such discourse by President McKay. It was delivered by his son, Robert R. McKay. President McKay died some three months later.
General Conference 5 October 1969  

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