David Oman McKay was ninth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1951-1970). He previously was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1906, and was a counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church from 1934. He is remembered for his forward-looking church leadership and its international expansion, his contributions to education, his humanitarianism, his participation in Utah's civic affairs, and his practical wisdom and advice.
David O. McKay was born in 1873 in Huntsville, Utah, and grew up there on the family farm. When he was eight, his father was called to serve as an LDS missionary in Scotland, and David was left to help his mother care for the farm as well as a younger brother and two younger sisters. He learned something about self-reliance and enterprise, and by the time his father returned the family had earned enough profit to build a much-need addition to the home.
McKay had an unquenchable appetite for learning that seemed to foreshadow a career in education. He read and memorized passages from much of the world's great literature, and in later years his sermons and writings were filled with quotations from such literature. After graduating from the LDS Church's Weber Stake Academy in Ogden, he became principal of the community school in Huntsville. A year later he enrolled in the University of Utah, and when he graduated in June 1897 he was class president and valedictorian. At that point he was called to serve a two-year mission for the church in Scotland; when he returned in the fall of 1899 he accepted a teaching position at Weber Stake Academy. He was appointed principal three years later.