For nearly two decades he served with inspiring power as ninth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making it clear to all that “David O. McKay was chosen before he was born.” (President Harold B. Lee, Church News, Jan. 24, 1970, p. 15.)
At age thirteen he was told, “the eye of the Lord is upon thee. … The Lord has a work for thee to do, in which thou shalt see much of the world, assist in gathering scattered Israel and also labor in the ministry. It shall be thy lot to sit in counsel with thy brethren and preside among the people and exhort the Saints to faithfulness.” (John Smith, Patriarch to the Church, quoted in Preston Nibley, The Presidents of the Church, Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 312.)
He was ordained to the Council of the Twelve in 1906 at age thirty-two. He served over sixteen years in the First Presidency under two presidents. At age seventy-seven, in April 1951, he became president, in which position he remained nearly nineteen years. He was a General Authority longer than any other man in this dispensation—for nearly sixty-four years.
During his administration the Church underwent remarkable growth, becoming indeed a worldwide church with stakes, chapels, and temples around the world, with the Church school system in many lands, and with the first overseas broadcast of general conference implemented.
Born in Huntsville, Utah, on September 8, 1873, David Oman McKay died in Salt Lake City on January 18, 1970, at the age of ninety-six.
At his funeral, President Harold B. Lee remarked, “His love was pure and kind. Though he was gentle he was firm. Though he was humble he was not without courage. Though he was forgiving to the truly repentant, he never condoned sin. … He brought honor and respect for the Church and Kingdom of God the world over. He was honored by all respectable people. He was genuine. He talked with God. He was and is a prophet of the Living God. … He left the world richer and heaven more glorious by the rich treasures he has brought to each.” (Church News, Jan. 24, 1970.)