David O. McKay, 9th President and Prophet of the LDS Church

David O. McKay was the ninth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in this position from 1951 until his death 20 years later.

David Oman McKay was born on September 8, 1873, in the small community of Huntsville, Utah. He was the third child of David and Jennette Evans McKay. When he was seven, multiple trials came to the McKay family. His two older sisters, Margaret and Ellena, died within a few days of each other. Then a year later, David’s father was called on a mission to Scotland. His father was concerned about leaving his wife and seven-year-old son to take care of the farm alone, especially since his wife was expecting. David’s mother encouraged his father to accept the call: “Of course you must accept,” she told David’s father. “You need not worry about me. David and I will manage things nicely!” The family was blessed while David’s father was gone, and the farm prospered.

At the age of fifteen, David O. McKay was called to be the Sunday School secretary, then in 1893, he was called to be a teacher in the Sunday School. It was here that David O. McKay first discovered the great love he had for teaching, a love that continued through his life.

After completing his studies through the eighth grade in Huntsville, he attended the Weber Stake Academy in Ogden for two years. Then, during the 1893–94 school year, at the age of 20, he returned to Huntsville and worked as a teacher at the town’s grade school.

When David O. McKay was about 20 years old, his Grandmother gave a gift of $2,500 to each of her children. David’s mother was adamant that “every cent of this [money] goes into the education of our children.” So David and three of his siblings left to attend the University of Utah. While there David O. was the president of his class, valedictorian, and played on the university’s first football team. While at the University of Utah, David O. McKay also met his future wife, Emma Ray Riggs. He graduated in the spring of 1897 and was offered a teaching job in Salt Lake County; however, he was called on a mission to Great Britain, then in 1898, he was called to preside over the missionaries of Scotland. While there he happened upon an old building bearing the words “Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.” The words stayed with him throughout his life. He returned from his mission in 1899, and in 1901 he and Emma Ray Riggs were the first couple to be married in the 20th century in the Salt Lake City Temple.

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