David O. McKay was the ninth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). He served in this position from 1951 until his death 20 years later.David Oman McKay was born on September 8, 1873. 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 as a Mormon missionary to Scotland. His father was concerned about leaving his wife and young 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 15 years old 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 found the great love he had for teaching, a love that continued through his life.When David O. McKay was about 20, his grandmother gave a gift of $2,500 to each of her children. David’s mother was adamant that every cent of the money go into the children’s educations. David and three of his siblings left to attend the University of Utah. While there, David was the president of his class, the valedictorian, and was on the university’s first football team. It was also at the University of Utah that David O. McKay met his future wife, Emma Ray Riggs.
In 1897, David O. McKay was called on a Mormon mission to Great Britain, and in 1898 he was called to preside over the missionaries of Scotland. 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 Temple.
David O. McKay served as a wonderful educator for most of his life. He was the principal of Weber State Academy, emphasized the importance of women gaining an education (at a time when it was not an important issue to many), and served in the Church’s Sunday School program where he organized lessons, and his teaching style became well known.
On April 9, 1906, David O. McKay was ordained as an apostle; he was only 32. He was asked to direct the Sunday School program, and he wrote one of the first Sunday School lesson manuals. He continued writing lessons and working with the Sunday School program even while he was President of the Mormon Church.
Starting in 1934, David O. McKay served as a counselor in the First Presidency of the Mormon Church to both Heber J. Grant, and George Albert Smith. Then with the passing of George Albert Smith, David O. McKay was called as the Prophet and President of the Mormon Church on April 9, 1951. Under his direction the first teaching plan for full-time missionaries was introduced, the first language training institute for missionaries was opened, and the idea of “every member a missionary” was stressed. With these efforts, the number of stakes in the Mormon Church doubled.