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Deseret News Archives
President David O. McKay opens a session of general conference in 1961.

David O. McKay, the ninth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had a full life — 96 years long — that was chronicled extensively in the Deseret News.

As an apostle in 1930, then-Elder McKay's strong educational talents were highlighted.

"He received his early education in the Huntsville schools, and when 20 years of age became principal of a school," the Deseret News reported on April 5, 1930. "He attended the (University of Utah) and graduated as president of his class in 1897."

In August 1897, he was ordained a seventy and served a mission in his father's homeland of Scotland.

"He returned in 1899 and became instructor in the Weber Stake Academy. Later, he became principal and held that position until 1908," the 1930 Deseret News stated.

As academy principal, he led students on a 1922 hike to the summit of Mount Ogden to establish a flagpole there in what became an annual trek up the mountain.

President McKay was called as an apostle in 1906 at age 32, and in 1919, he was appointed as the first commissioner of church education.

He recommended the closing of most of the church's academies in that position, and in their place came seminaries next to high schools, which offered voluntary, religious education on a released-time basis.

President McKay was also "one of the most popular speakers in the church," according to a Deseret News article in 1930. He also possessed an unquenchable appetite for learning.

He had served on the Red Cross board in Weber County and had presided over the European Mission.

President McKay served as Second Counselor in the First Presidency to both President Heber J. Grant and President George Albert Smith. In 1950, he became president of the Quorum of the Twelve.

He was called as LDS Church president in 1951 at age 77 and served 19 years until his death on Jan. 18, 1970.

President McKay created the first non-English speaking stakes of the church outside the United States. He also spurred a renewed interest in both family life and education among church members.

One of President McKay's mottoes, "no success in life can compensate for failure in the home," is still paramount in the church today.

Church membership grew almost 2.5 times during his administration.

President McKay was a member of the Utah Centennial Commission that planned the 1947 centennial celebration of the Mormon Pioneers. During much of his presidency, he held weekly breakfast meetings with the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and other community leaders.

Photographs of President McKay show his worldwide reach. There's a photo of him meeting with U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, and the president asked the LDS prophet for spiritual support on occasion.

In the previous year, President McKay had met with and had breakfast at the Hotel Utah with President John F. Kennedy, just months before Kennedy was assassinated.

There's another photograph of President McKay posing with his wife, Emma Ray Riggs McKay, at the premiere of "The Ten Commandments" in Salt Lake City in 1956 with director Cecil B. DeMille and star Charlton Heston.

Other pictures highlight his important wedding anniversaries, birthdays and trips overseas.

A photograph of his 87th birthday shows a tender moment when his daughters, Lou Jean and Emma Rae, warmly embraced their father.

Photos show President McKay's attire going from a dark suit to light colored styles — even white ones — and back to dark colors again. Still another picture spotlights President McKay and his wife conversing alone on Temple Square, both wearing hats of a bygone era.

Pictures also chronicle his later years, when his mobility was limited.

Photo researcher Ron Fox has assembled many photos of President McKay from past issues of the newspaper available as a gallery, above.