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David O. McKay Diaries – “David O. McKay”

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Sat., 14 Apr., 1951:

“Following my morning’s work at the office I returned home where I rest[ed] for about an hour, and then Ray and I went to the Villa Theatre to see ‘All About Eve.’  I did not want to go at first, but Ray insisted that it was a good picture and that I needed a little recreation.  I enjoyed the show very much, and it did give me the relaxation that I needed.”

Sat., 27 Oct., 1951:

“A rather touching incident happened to me while I was enroute from the Farm.  I stopped at North Salt Lake to get some gasoline. While at the Gas Station I noticed a man standing at one end of the station.  After two or three glances at me, he walked over and said: ‘President McKay, You do not know me; but I know you.  YOu have been giving us advice for a long time now–would you mind if I gave you some now?’  I answered, ‘No, please do.’  He then said with tears in his eyes:  ‘Please do not drive this car yourself; you are too precious; the Church needs you; you must be careful.’

I said, ‘What is your name?’  He said: ‘Brother Bergstrom,’ and then walked away.

I must admit that my eyes too were full of tears.  I was deeply touched by this brother’s manifestation of love and sincerity.”

Tues., 31 Aug., 1954:

“Honorary Membership in International College of Surgeons

On May 16, 1954, when I returned from an out-of-the-state appointment, my son, Dr. Edward R. McKay, informed me that he had received a telephone communication from Dr. Harry E. Bacon, of Philadelphia, Pa., who stated that steps were being taken to make me an honorary Fellow of the International College of Surgeons.

Upon my return from Huntsville last Saturday afternoon, I found on my desk a letter from Dr. Max Thorek, International Secretary General, of the International College of Surgeons (registered in Switzerland, 1935-Incorporated in Washington, D.C. 1940) in which he stated that the International Board of Trustees had unanimously accorded me the Honorary Membership of the International College of Surgeons for my ‘contribution to science and the welfare of mankind.’

While still in a mist of wonderment over this honor, I dictated this morning a letter to Dr. Thorek in answer to his letter of August 25, 1954.  (see copies of letters following)  (See also Friday, Sept. 10, 1954)

August 31, 1954

International College of Surgeons accords

Honorary Membership



College International Des Chirurgiens

Founded by Dr. Max Thorek

International College of Surgeons

Registered in Geneva, Switzerland.  1935 – Incorporated in Washington

D.C., 1940

President Office of the

Prof. Dr. Hans Finsterer International Secretary General

Vienna, Austria 850 West Irving Park Road

August 25, 1954 Chicago 13, Illinois


Prof. Dr. Rudolph Nissen

Basel, Switzerland

First Vice President

Prof. Dr. Carlos Gama

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Dr. David O. McKay, President

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Salt Lake City, Utah

My dear Doctor McKay:

I am very pleased to inform you that the International Board of Trustees has unanimously accorded the

Honorary Membership

of the International College of Surgeons to you for your outstanding achieve-

ments and for your contribution to science and the welfare of mankind.

The ceremony of presentation of the diploma, and insignia, and 

induction into the Membership will take place at the Civic Opera House,

Chicago, Illinois, on Friday evening, September 10th.  We congratulate

you upon this well-merited honor and look forward to the pleasure of

your induction into our great organization.

We would suggest that you make hotel reservations at the Palmer

House promptly by addressing Mr. H.F. Maier, Room Reservations,

Palmer House, Chicago 90, Illinois.

On the evening of the Convocation ceremony, please come to the

Civic Opera House (stage entrance) at 6:30 o’clock, and bring your academic 


Anticipating the pleasure of greeting you in Chicago and with every

good wish, believe me.

Sincerely yours,

/s/ Dr. Max Thorek


Prof. Dr. Rudolph Nissen International Secretary General


August 31, 1954

President McKay’s


August 30, 1954

Dr. Max Thorek

International Secretary General

International College of Surgeons

850 West Irving Park Road

Chicago, 13, Illinois

My dear Doctor Thorek:

This will acknowledge the receipt of your very kind letter of August 25, 1954 informing me that the International Board of Trustees has unanimously accorded me the

Honorary Membership

of the International College of Surgeons, and that the ceremony of presentation of the diploma and insignia, and induction into membership will take place at the Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois, on Friday evening, September 10.  I note that I am to be at the stage entrance at 6:30 p.m., having with me my academic robes.

I am greatly surprised and overwhelmed by this wholly unanticipated and unmerited honor; and for the graciousness of those who recommended me I am humbly grateful.

To be granted the privilege to associate with the distinguished men, great scientists and world benefactors who make up the membership of the International College of Surgeons is truly one of the greatest honors that have ever been conferred upon me.

Sincerely yours,



P.S.  My son, Dr. Edward R., informed me that you telephoned through Dr. Bacon, regarding my possible attendance at the Banquet September 9th.  I have made reservations for three of us.

(see Dr. Thorek’s reply following)

(see also Friday, September 10, 1954)

August 31, 1954



College International Des Chirurgiens

Founded by Dr. Max Thorek

International College of Surgeons

Registered in Geneva, Switzerland.  1935 – Incorporated in Washington

D.C., 1940

President Office of the

Prof. Dr. Rudolph Nissen International Secretary General

Basel, Switzerland

First Vice President September 1, 1954

Dr. Henry W. Meyerding

Rochester, Minnesota

Dr. David O. McKay, President

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

47 East South Temple Street

Salt Lake City, Utah

My very dear Dr. McKay:

Your kindness of the 30th has been received and we will be delighted

to have you with us.  The honor conferred upon you is very well merited 

and I am looking forward to the pleasure of making your personal 

acquaintance and to having the joy of meeting you.

For the moment I take pleasure in sending you a copy of

‘The Surgeon’s World,’ my autobiography, as a matter of


I note what you have said about academic robes, and that you 

will be with us at the Dedication Banquet and the Convocation,

toward all of which I am looking forward with aniticipation.

With every good wish for your happiness and well-merited

success, believe me,

Sincerely yours,

sign. Dr. Max Thorek


Thurs., 2 Sept., 1954:

“10 to 1:30 p.m. – Was convened in Council meeting.

Reported at Council meeting today that on August 31 I had received a letter from Dr. Max Thorek, International Secretary-General of the International College of Surgeons, which was registered in Switzerland and incorporated in Washington, D.C. in 1940, in which he stated that the International Board of Trustees had unanimously accorded me honorary membership in the International College of Surgeons for ‘outstanding achievements and contributions to Science and the welfare of mankind.’

The induction into membership will take place at the Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois, Friday, September 10.  I said that if it had been in educational circles that I should have felt there was some reason, but there is no justification for this.  I had, however, accepted the invitation, and would therefore be absent from the Council Meeting a week from today.  I said I should like to attend the banquet in connection with these services Thursday night next, particularly to hear the lecture by an eminent surgeon from India who talks on the element of peace in the world; and then a lecture by another doctor, a Doctor Smith, an eminent surgeon from Chicago, who will speak on serving others.  I said I should like to hear both addresses.”

8 – 12 Sept., 1954:

“September 8th to September 12th, 1954

Synopsis of a Trip to Chicago to attend the International College of Surgeons.

Wednesday morning, September 8, 1954, David L., Llewellyn, Robert and other members of the family met us at the home, and drove us to the Station, where we were met by Brothers Franklin Murdock, Jack Thomas, Mr. R.T. Griffin, General Passenger Agent, Union Pacific Railroad; Henry Smith, News Photographer, and others.  They were present to wish me a happy birthday and to extend congratulations on the appointment to be received in Chicago.

After pictures were taken and farewells said, we entered Drawing Room D, and were surprised and delighted to find a bouquet of two dozen red roses from Mr. and Mrs. John Fitzpatrick with a card, reading as follows:  ‘A Scotch lassie and myself want to wish to you Many Happy Returns of this, your birthday, with a prayer to the Almighty that He spare you for many, many more happy birthdays.’  This coming from a dear friend, a member of the Catholic Church, touched me deeply.  I sent the following telegram to Mr. and Mrs. John Fitzpatrick, thanking them for their thoughtfulness:  ‘Happily surprised and grateful for birthday greeting and bouquet of roses from a Scotch lassie and her Irish husband, my loyal friend.  God bless you both!  Affectionately – David O. and Emma Ray McKay.’

We had no sooner comfortably settled in our drawing room on the ‘City of Los Angeles’ than the dining room steward came, introduced himself, and informed us that Mr. Griffin, General Passenger Agent of the Union Pacific Railroad Company had given instructions that we were to be given a complimentary lunch, and also that Mr. A.E. Stoddard, President of the Union Pacific Railroad Company had ordered a complimentary dinner for the two of us.  I also sent the following telegram to Pres. Stoddard who is in the hospital at Rock Springs, Wyoming:  ‘As the Streamliner passes through Rock Springs, Wyoming, Mrs. McKay and I want you to know that we admire you, and pray for your speedy and complete recovery.  Sincerely – David O. and Emma Ray McKay.’  At the conclusion of our dinner, the steward came in and whispered to us, ‘Now, I have a surprise for you’, and he certainly did when he marched in with a large birthday cake, the compliments of Pres. Stoddard.

Had a very restful day on the Streamliner.

Thursday, September 9, 1954, we were met at the Chicago Northwestern Station by Mr. Wells, representing the Union Pacific, who took care of our bags and rendered every assistance possible.

We were met, also, by my daughter, Lou Jean (Mrs. Russell H. Blood) who had driven fifty miles from the Great Lakes Naval Station, and by my son Dr. Edward R. McKay, also by four members of the Relief Society of the Logan Square Ward who presented Sister McKay with a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

Lou Jean drove us to the Palmer House.  When I asked the Clerk if he had reservations for David O. McKay, he answered, ‘Yes, we have’, and immediately called the Porter to take our bags to our rooms.  I said, ‘Don’t you want me to register,’ he said, ‘No, your rooms are all ready.’  They had set apart suite 2144 and 2146 for us.  Here we were surprised to find a bouquet of flowers from Governor and Mrs. J. Bracken Lee, and a basket of fruit, compliments of the Manager of the Palmer House.

Lou Jean and Sister McKay went immediately to the Conrad Hilton Hotel for a luncheon prepared for the women guests of the International College of Surgeons, and an entertainment following.  I attended the section in which my son, Dr. Edward R. McKay, was to give a paper on Proctology.  As I entered the room, I found it to be crowded–there were probably 225 to 250 doctors in attendance at the section.  I took my seat about one-third away from the door, and sat back relaxed, as with anticipation of understanding little or nothing of the scientific papers that were to be presented.  Imagine my surprise when, following the lecture of the Doctor who was speaking as I entered, Dr. Harry E. Bacon, who was presiding, said:  ‘We have a distinguished guest who will receive honors tomorrow night; Dr. McKay, will you please take your place on the rostrum with us.’  Amidst applause I went forward and took a seat among the following:  Dr. Harry E. Bacon who was presiding, M.D. Sc. D., F.A.C.S., F.R.S.M. F.I.C.S., Philadelphia; Dr. Curtice Rosser, M.D. F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S., Dallas, Texas, head of the Division of Proctology, Southwestern Medical School, University of Texas, and President-elect of the American College of Surgeons; Henry C. Schneider, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S., Secretary of the Section; and Dr. Colby.  Edward R. McKay, M.D. F.I.C.S., was the last speaker before the recess.  His subject was Pneumatosis Intestinalis Involving Rectosigmoid.  He gave an excellent address which he illustrated by colored slides.  I was truly proud of him, as also was Dr. Bacon, his former instructor at the Temple University.  Following intermission there was a panel discussion on management of Hemorrhoids and Fistulae, the moderator was Curtice Rosser, M.D., F.A.C.S. F.I.C.S. from Dallas.  The four participants were:  Herbert T. Hayes, M.D., Houston, Edward R. McKay, M.D., Salt Lake City; Lt. Colonel Caleb J. Smith, M.C. U.S.A.F., Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and Edward J. Lowell, M.D., Denver.  Here again Edward acquitted himself masterfully.

That evening in formal dress, Sister McKay, Dr. Edward R. McKay, and I attended the banquet (held in the Palmer House, Chicago, Ill.).  Again, to my surprise, I was invited to take a seat at the head table.  On my left sat Dr. Edward J. McCormack, past president of the American Medical Association, and on my right His Excellency, V.K. Krishna Menon, from India.

In the August Journal of International College of Surgeons for 1954 it was announced that Austin Smith, M.D., C.M. would speak on the subject of ‘The Importance of Others,’ and that His Excellency V.K. Krishna Menon of India would speak on the subject ‘Health of the World.’  Mr. Menon is a delegate to the Seventh Session of the United Nations General Assembly.  One principal reason for our going to the Banquet was to hear these eminent surgeons deliver these addresses.  To our surprise, however, the Chairman announced that ‘there would be no speeches’, but in the introductions, given by Dr. Max Thorek, we had ten or twelve one-minute talks from prominent men whom he introduced.  All in all, I was greatly disappointed in this latter part of the evening’s proceedings.

It was late when we returned to the hotel, and one o’clock in the morning before we could retire.

On the morning of Friday, September 10, Sister McKay, Dr. Edward, and I visited Chicago Board of Trades, my first experience in this seemingly pandemonium.  However, after explanations were given to us, my perplexities changed to wonderment at the speed and intellectual acumen manifest by these experienced traders in grain and futures.

Following this, we took a cab to the International Surgeons Hall of Fame.  Here, fortunately, we met Dr. Max Thorek, founder of the College, who invited us to accompany him and his French guest–Pierre Donzelot, M.S., Phar. D.D.Sc.–through the rooms containing displays on the progress of medicine and science.

At 6:30 p.m., we arrived at the stage door of the Chicago Civic Opera House where the following program was carried out most impressively.


Civic Opera House, Chicago

(Sept. 10, 1954)

Chairman of Assembly ……………………Raymond W. McNealy, M.D., F.A.C.S.,

F.I.C.S. (Hon.)

Co-Chairmen of Assembly………………Karl A. Meyer, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S.


Lyon H. Appleby, M.D., F.R.C.S., F.A.C.S.,

F.I.C.S. (Hon.)

Chairman of Convocation…………………Horace E. Turner, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S.

Co-Chairman of Convocation……………Walter C. Burket, M.D., F.I.C.S.

Director of Pageantry………………………Ernest F. Purcell, M.D., F.I.C.S.

Music Director and Monitor………………Claire E. Carr, M.D., D.A.B., F.I.C.S.

Organ Music (Selected)……………………Organist, Al Melgard

Le Roi d’Ys Overture………………………Lalo Orchestra–Under the direction of

Mr. Leo Kopp

On Stage:  International Officers, United States and Canadian Section Officers,

Regents, Delegates, Consular Corps, Honorary Fellows and

Honorary Members, Canadian Candidates and Guests.

Processional:  Sigurd’s Jorsalfor………………………………………………..Grieg

Marshal:  Dr. Francis D. Wolfe

Associate Marshals:  Dr. Claire E. Carr and Dr. Walter C. Burket

Introduction to Dr. Arnold S. Jackson, President of the United States Section……

Dr. Raymond W. McNealy

Invocation……………………………………………Preston Bradley, L.L.D., D.D.

Pastor, People’s Church of


Procession of Flags: ‘National Emblem’

‘Under the Double Eagle’

Presentation of Colors: ‘Canadian National Anthem’

‘The Star Spangled Banner’……………………Lois Gentile

Chicago Opera Co.

Recessional (Nurses and Color Guards)

Memorial Service for Deceased Members…………..Dr. Ernest F. Purcell

Salutation……………….Arnold S. Jackson, M.C., F.A.C.S., F.I.C.S.

President, United States Section, International College of Surgeons

Address:  ‘The Importance of Remembering Others’………Austin Smith, M.D., C.M.

Editor, Journal of the American Medical Association

Convocation Address:

‘Can We Win the Cold War?’…Robert Livingston Johnson, A.B., LL.D. (Hon.)

L.H.D. (Hon.)

President, Temple University, Philadelphia,


Introduced by Dr. Harry E. Bacon

Administration of College Pledge to Inductees…William Randolph Lovelace, M.D.

D.A.B.S., F.I.C.S.

Past President, United States Section, International

College of Surgeons

Conferring of Honorary Degrees by International Officers

Honorary Members

Honorary Fellows

Carlos Gama, M.D., F.B.C.S., F.I.C.S. (Hon.),


Max Thorek, M.D., LL.D., Sc.D., F.B.C.S., F.I.C.S.,

F.P.C.S. (Hon.), F.R.S.M.

(Eng.), D.C.M., Founder, International College of Surgeons

Induction of Candidates from Other Sections………..Dr. Carlos Gama and Dr. Max


Induction of Canadian Section Candidates………..Dr. Lyon H. Appleby and Dr. E.N.

C. McAmmond

Induction of United States Section Candidates………Dr. Arnold S. Jackson

Benediction……………………………………………Louis Binstock, D.D., D.H.L.

Rabbi, Temple Sholom, Chicago

Recessional: ‘Semper Fidelis’

‘Stars and Stripes Forever’

(Music by courtesy of Mr. James C. Petrillo, President, American Federation of


NOTE:  Audience please remain seated until members file out and music ceases.

Here Dr. Austin Smith gave his address advertised for the evening before on the ‘Importance of Remembering Others.’  Honorable Livingston Johnson, A.B. LL.D.  L.H.D., President of the Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania gave an inspiring address on the subject ‘Can We Win the Cold War?’  At this point I was given the honor of Membership in the International College of Surgeons.  It was presented by Dr. George F. Lull, F.A.C.S.  F.I.C.S. (Hon.) Chicago, Illinois, and Dr. N. Frederick Hicken, F.A.C.S.  F.I.C.S., Salt Lake City, Utah.

The presentation was as follows as listed in the Program of the Nineteenth Annual Convocation-Canadian and United States Sections-International College of Surgeons, page 27.  The citation reads as follows:

‘David O. McKay, M.A. (Hon.), LL.D. (Hon.), L.H.D. (Hon.), D. Lit. (Hon.)

‘President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and President of the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young University, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Former Member of the Church Board of Education, Church Commissioner of Education; President of European Missions of the Church; Chairman of the Utah State Advisory Committee of the American Red Cross, and the Utah Council of Child Health and Protection; Regent of the University of Utah and Trustee of the Utah State Advisory Committee of the American Red Cross, and the Utah Council of Child Health and Protection; Regent of the University of Utah and Trustee of the Utah State Agricultural College.  Received an award from the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital ‘in recognition of interest and achievement in safeguarding and promoting the health of the community.’  Member, Academy of Political Science, Columbia University.  Humanitarian, philanthropist and idealist, the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities was awarded him by Brigham Young University, and Doctor of Letters by the University of Utah and Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.’

The Certificate bestowed by the International President of the College of Surgeons, Prof. Dr. Rudolph Nissen, F.I.C.S., Basel, Switzerland, reads as follows:

‘In recognition of his contributions to the welfare of mankind and of his devotion and encouragement of education and humanistic endeavor, the International College of Surgeons confers the Diploma of Honorary Membership on David O. McKay with honors pertaining thereto, Given at Chicago, Illinois, September 10, 1954.  – signed H. Finsterer, Le President International – Arnold S. Jackson – LePresident National – Max Thorek, Le Secretaire General International – Karl A. Meyer Le Secretaire National.’  

And the medal of honor – a bronze disc – bears the following inscription:

‘College International De Chirurgiens.  F.I.C.S. David O. McKay, Ph.D. Honorary Member, 1954.’

This was one of the most surprising and memorable evenings of my life.  I was glad that Mama Ray, Lou Jean (my daughter) and Dr. Edward (my son) were present.

(See Aug. 31, 1954 for letters informing President McKay of the honor to be bestowed by the International College of Surgeons, Chicago, Illinois.)

Saturday morning, September 11, 1954, I took the Bus out to the Mission Home of the Northern States Mission.  President and Sister I.A. Smoot, and the entire staff had gone to Omaha to attend a District Conference.  Elder ____ was there recovering from an appendectomy.  His mother who had come from home to attend to him when he was sick, and the housekeepers, Brother and Sister Leo Anderson were the only ones at the Home.

In the afternoon, Ray, Lou Jean, and I went to the theatre.  We met Lou Jean’s husband – Dr. Russell H. Blood – who drove in from the Naval Base at 6 p.m.

We left Chicago at 7:15 p.m. standard time.

Dr. Edward had to leave in the morning, as he could get no reservations on the Streamliner that left in the evening.

After a restful and pleasant trip, we arrived home Sunday at 7:15 p.m.  We were met at the station by members of our family, Brother Smith of the Deseret News, photographers, Jack Thomas, and others.  The folks went with us to the home, where we spent the evening telling them briefly of the experience which I have narrated above.”

Tues., 9 Nov., 1954:

Telephone Calls

“Honor to be Bestowed by Greek Government

Mr. Chris Athas of Salt Lake City, a local man of Greek descent, telephoned to say that the Greek Government by congressional order signed by the King of Greece will pay honor to me as President of the Church in appreciation for the Church’s kindness in sending aid to that country.  They wish to present that honor at a Banquet to be held in the Hotel Utah to which prominent Church and Civic persons will be invited.  Mr. Athas asked me to set the date for the banquet.  Said a member of the Greek Embassy either from San Francisco or Washington will be flown here to bestow the honor.  I later asked my secretary to tell Mr. Athas the Banquet may be arranged for November 29.  (*Tele:  Success Pharmacy 3-6393; Home 5-5061)

Tues., 16 Nov., 1954:


Upon my return to the office this afternoon, found the following memorandum on my desk from my secretary:

‘President McKay:  At 10:10 this morning you received a call from the Honorable John Tzounis, Consul of Greece, At San Francisco.  (His name is pronounced Zoonis).

‘He said that somehow the papers had gotten hold of the news regarding the decoration that is to be given to you by the King of Greece.  (On November 9th, Christopher Athas, local Greek advised you of this honor by telephone).  Mr. Tzounis called personally to advise you of this decoration–he is also sending a letter to you today giving the details.

‘He said:  ‘President McKay has been awarded the decoration by the King of Greece of the Cross of Commander Royal of the Phoenix for his outstanding work in the educational field, and for his spirituality and humanitarianism.’

‘I thanked Mr. Tzounis, and told him that you would be very appreciative of his thoughtfulness in calling. – signed Clare.’

November 16, 1954



San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A.

November 16, 1954

Dr. David O. McKay,

President of the Church of Jesus Christ

of Latter-day Saints

47 East South Temple, 

Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dear Sir,

I am very happy to inform you that His Majesty King Paul of the Hellenes has graciously awarded you the Cross of Commander of the Royal Order of the Phoenix, in recognition of your outstanding achievements in the religious and educational fields and of your untiring and highly successful efforts in promoting democratic ideals, good-will and understanding among nations.

Allow me to avail myself of this opportunity to congratulate you most heartily for this timely and well deserved recognition.  It shall be my pleasure and privilege to come to Salt Lake City at any date you may care to indicate in order to deliver to you personally the insignia and official diploma of the decoration.

Yours very sincerely

/s/ J.A. Tzounis

John A. Tzounis

Acting Consul General of Greece

November 16, 1954


November 18, 1954

Dear Mr. Tzounis:

For your graciousness in having sent a telephone message November 16, 1954, and in having followed that by your kind letter of the same date, I am deeply grateful.

I express gratitude, also, to His Majesty King Paul of the Hellenes for his having graciously awarded me the Cross of Commander of the Royal Order of the Phoenix.

Though I am the recipient of this great honor, I realize that I receive it for the Church for its expressed sympathy and admiration for the Greek people in time of distress.  I am honored to represent the Church in receiving His Majesty’s award.

I am looking forward to your visit on November 29, the date set for its presentation.

Cordially and sincerely,



Honorable John A. Tzounis

Acting Consul General of Greece

690 Market Street

San Francisco, California”

29 Nov., 1994:

“November 29, 1954

(Royal Honor from King of Greece)

Conferring of the Cross of the Commander of Order of

Phoenix upon President David O. McKay of the Church

of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by King Paul of

the Hellenes, through his representative, Honorable

John A. Tzounis, Acting Consul General of Greece,

at a formal dinner and ceremonies held on the Starlite

Gardens, Hotel Utah, Monday, November 29, 1954,

7 p.m.

At 7 p.m. Sister Mckay and I arrived at the Starlite Gardens of the Hotel Utah to attend a formal dinner and ceremonies for the bestowal of Royal Honors from King Paul of the Hellenes.

Most of the guests had arrived and were seated at their tables when Sister McKay and I arrived.  The room looked beautiful!  The speakers table, as well as the individual tables, had been attractively decorated with white carnations intermingled with gold leaves, and candelabra with pale blue candles.

At the head table were seated, besides Sister McKay and me, the Honorable John A. Tzounis, Acting Consul General of Greece, representing King Paul of Greece, Mayor Earl J. Glade and Mrs. Glade, Dr. and Mrs. A Ray Olpin, Dr. and Mrs. L. David Hiner, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher E. Athas, and Elder and Mrs. Richard L. Evans.  At individual tables were seated my sons and their wives:  David L. and Mildred; Llewellyn R. and Alice, Edward R. and Lottie, Robert R. and Francis Ellen; and my daughter Emma Rae and her husband Conway Ashton — also my brothers and sisters – Dr. and Mrs. George R. Hill; Dr. and Mrs. Joel E. Ricks; Dr. and Mrs. Joseph R. Morrell, Mrs. Thomas B. Farr, Thomas E. and Fawn, and Mrs. William McKay.  President and Mrs. Stephen L. Richards, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Elders Henry D. Moyle, Marion G. Romney, Bishop Thorpe Isaacson, Mrs. Belle Spafford were among the prominent guests.

Dr. L. David Hiner, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, University of Utah, acted as Master of Ceremonies.

Following a delicious dinner, Dean Hiner announced that the ceremonies would begin with the singing of the national anthem by Mrs. Dorothy Kimball Keddington.  This was followed by the singing of the Greek national anthem by a member of the Greek organization.  Mayor Glade was then called upon to speak.  He paid tribute to the Greek people who are residents of the State of Utah.

(The following Notes from Secretary Clare Middlemiss, who was in attendance at the Banquet:)

At this point Honorable John A. Tzounis, Acting Consul General of Greece, was called upon to speak.  He said: ‘The purpose of this gathering is to pay tribute, within our limited means, to a man, who having chosen as his field one of the greatest instrumentalities of public service, has devoted his whole life to the noble search for better education and moral standards for his fellow men.’  He then praised President McKay and members of the Church for fostering and improving international good will.  He noted that friendship and consideration for others and the preservation of freedom were matters that must cross over international boundaries if nations are to remain free.  Continuing, he said:  ‘More immediately, however, and more tangibly related to Greece, to mention only one of several cases, is the generous response of the Mormon Church under the leadership of President McKay to the unspeakable plight of the earthquake – stricken population of the Ionian Islands a year ago.

‘It is no secret, and I am thankful for this opportunity to stress the fact publicly, that the contribution of the Mormon Church was the greatest single contribution to the relief fund — not only in the United States but the world over.

‘For the material assistance we are grateful.  But we are even more appreciative of the thought behind the deed.  For, in the hour of disaster we felt the heart-warming breadth of friendship.  We saw humanity in action – prompted not by calculations of expediency – but practiced in the confidence of liberality.’

Mr. Tzounis explained that the Order of the Phoenix was ‘symbolic of things that would endure forever.  The Phoenix was a mythical bird that had the ability to rise from its own ashes with renewed life, and that the order is bestowed only on people whose ideals, such as President McKay’s ideals of spirituality, can never perish.’

Mr. Tzounis then placed the ribbon bearing the insignia of the Cross of Commander of the Royal Order of the Phoenix about President McKay’s neck, and handed him a diploma in Greek signed by King Paul.  The translation of the diploma is as follows:

‘P A U L

King of the Hellenes

‘We confer upon

Mr. David O. McKay

President of the Church of Jesus Christ

of the Latter-day Saints,



and in witness thereof We grant him this Diploma, signed by Us and

countersigned by Our Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Done at Athens this thirteenth day of the month of July, in the year of

our Lord, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Fifty-four.

(signed)  P A U L  R.

(signed)  S. Stephanopoulos’


(A photostat of this diploma is in the 1954 Scrapbook.  The original in Greek, with its translation, have been framed for preservation.)

President McKay in his usual dignified, intelligent manner, humbly and graciously accepted the decoration.  He said, ‘In behalf of the Church and especially the Welfare Department, I express deep gratitude for this honor.  I am but a representative of the members of the Church ….It is most significant that a nation pauses to express appreciation for an act of service rendered by the Mormon Church.’  President McKay then said that sometimes a calamity has compensating results.  The earthquake of 1953 in the Greek Islands ‘gave the Church the opportunity to express in a slight degree some of the principles and purposes of its organization.  It gave the Church an opportunity to render service to mankind, to build new friendships, and to foster better understanding between the people of Greece and the people of Utah.’

President McKay then asked Mr. Tzounis to convey to His Majesty King Paul of the Hellenes the Church’s deep gratitude.  ‘We send our blessings to him and to the Greek people,’ President McKay said.

Then followed ceremonies pertaining to the bestowal of an honor upon Mr. Christopher E. Athas, a prominent Utah citizen, a native of Greece, and a worker in behalf of better understanding between the people of this country and his native land.  Mr. Athas was awarded the Gold Cross of the Order of Phoenix by King Paul of Greece.  (end of notes by Clare Middlemiss)

Mr. Tzounis distinguished himself by the sincere, gracious, and efficient manner in which he presented the honors.

The affair was successful in every way — a feeling of congeniality and good will was marked throughout the ceremony.

One impressive feature on the evening was the fact that there was no smoking whatsoever, notwithstanding the fact that many in attendance were addicted to the habit.

Twenty-two congratulatory telegrams were sent to me from the Greek people both here in the State and throughout the United States, all containing warm congratulations and best wishes for the honor bestowed.  Many telegrams were also addressed to both Mr. Athas and me, and these were read by Dr. Hiner at the Banquet.

Following the ceremonies Sister McKay and I stood in the reception line with other honored guests and greeted and shook hands with each person who attended the ceremonies and dinner.  We were in line for an hour or more.

It was a joyous occasion and our hearts were made glad by the reception given to us!!

Further notes by Secretary:

The following day (November 30) Mrs. Christopher Athas, (wife of Mr. Athas upon whom an honor was bestowed) called to say that she had received so many messages from people who were in attendance at the banquet, and others who had read the daily newspapers, each of whom expressed great satisfaction over the honor that had been bestowed upon President McKay by the Greek people.  She said that Mr. Tzounis, the Acting Consul General, spoke to the students at the University of Utah the day following the banquet, and said, in speaking about the honor that had been given to the President of the Mormon Church:  ‘You should be very proud of your President.  I am grateful that I had an opportunity to meet and know him.  I have been enriched spiritually by meeting such a humble man with such a big heart, and am returning home with gratefulness in my heart that I have received a deeper spiritual experience.’

Mrs. Athas said that many had remarked:  ‘Utah has never had such an impressive affair take place.’

(See following copy of invitation received by President McKay to attend the Banquet – also copy of letter to President McKay from Jack B. Heinz who was unable to attend the banquet in which he says:  ‘Once again, you have brought favorable recognition to your Church, your State, and your Nation.  As a Utahn, and an American, may I offer ‘thanks’ along with these congratulations.  This is still another occasion attesting to your devotion to the service of humanity.’)

(Newspaper articles, editorials, etc. concerning the ceremonies follow.)

(See Nov. 16, 1954 for letter from Mr. Tzounis telling of the King’s decision to give the award, also newspaper announcements and editorial concerning the event on the same date.)

Later, President McKay obtained copies of photographs taken of Mr. Tzounis and him the night of the banquet and sent them to Mr. Tzounis.  They were inscribed as follows:  ‘To Honorable John A. Tzounis, Office of the Royal Consulate of Greece, San Francisco, California.  With Gratitude for Royal Honors bestowed, and for the privilege of having met you personally.  Cordially and sincerely.  /s/ David O. McKay.  Nov. 29, 1954.’

A copy of the letter which accompanied the photographs follows:

‘December 4, 1954

‘My dear Mr. Tzounis:

‘It gives me great satisfaction to enclose herewith two photographs

which I have taken the liberty to inscribe, and two others which I am hoping

you will return to me with your autograph so that I may place them among my treasured collections.

‘They will always connote one of the delightful experiences of my public

career, made so by the kind consideration of His Majesty, King Paul of

the Hellenes, and particularly by his representative, the Honorable John

A. Tzounis, Acting Consul General of Greece.

‘I sincerely hope that our paths may cross again soon and often.

‘With sentiments of high regard, I remain

‘Cordially yours,

/s/ David O. McKay


‘Honorable John A. Tzounis

Acting Consul General of Greece

Office of the Royal Consulate General of Greece

San Francisco, California

Later at Council meeting held December 2, 1954, President McKay reported the following with reference to the Greek Banquet:

‘Mr. Tzounis stated during his speech that the Church gave the largest single contribution, not only of anybody or any group here in the United States, but in the world.  The spirit of the occasion was very impressive.  There was not one cigarette lighted during the entire service.

The Master of Ceremonies – Dean Hiner – had a group of telegrams that he did not read.  President McKay learned yesterday that they were all complimentary telegrams from Greek people here in the city.  Pres. McKay said he learned through a secretary at the University of Utah that the Greek Orthodox Church wanted to share in the honors bestowed, but they were rejected.

President McKay said he had some interesting conversations with Mr. Tzounis.  During one of the conversations he commented on the Greek language, and in substance said that the modern Greek language today is more in keeping with the original than any other language that has come down from the ancient languages.  President McKay told him he was pleased to hear that because we are having the Book of Mormon translated into Greek; that, as a matter of fact, it is completed, but one criticism that has been raised is that it was not sufficiently modern; that it was too much in harmony with the ancient Greek.  Mr. Tzounis said that some words have changed, and some phrases have been dropped out, but that if the translation is in harmony with ancient Greek we have no cause to be worried.”

Tues., 14 Dec., 1954:

December 14, 1954


Dedication of the David O. McKay Building

Brigham Young University Campus, Provo,

Utah, December 14, 1954, 9:45 a.m.

At 7:45 this morning Sister McKay, my son Llewellyn, my grandaughter Bonnie, and I left for Provo to attend the dedicatory services of the David O. McKay Building, Brigham Young University Campus, Provo, Utah.  David L., Edward, Robert, Emma Rae, and their families took their own cars as they had to return to Salt Lake immediately following the ceremonies.

As we arrived at the Brigham Young University Campus, members of the committee in charge of the dedication — Harvey L. Taylor, Executive Assistant to the President, Dr. Asahel D. Woodruff, Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Oliver R. Smith, Journalism Department, Chairman, and his wife; Ben Lewis, associate treasurer, and Lloyd George, student body president — were on hand to greet us and to look after our every need.

We then proceeded to the ‘David O. McKay’ Building, it being 9 o’clock when we arrived there.  President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. and his daughter were already there.  Photographers of the Deseret News, Henry Smith the reporter of that paper, and friends were present.  Pictures were requested by the Deseret News officials.

Following this, we drove to the ‘George Albert Smith’ Field House where over five thousand students, members of the B.Y.U. faculty, members of the General Authorities, prominent educators of the State, members of my family, and citizens were already seated.

Under the direction of Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, President of the Brigham Young University, we participated in one of the most impressive services that I have ever attended.  Everybody seemed to be thrilled with the occasion.

The following program was rendered:

Hymn:  ‘We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet’…Congregation

and Combined University Choruses.  Don L.

Earl, Conductor; J.J. Keeler, Organist.

Invocation……………………………………..David Lawrence McKay

Introduction of Architect and Presentation

of Certificate to Contractors

Selection – Grand March from ‘Tannhauser’ (Wagner)……University Band

Ralph Laycock, Dir.

Introduction to the Family of President David O. McKay

Tribute — The Early Life of Pres. McKay—————-President

Ernest L. Wilkinson

Dedicatory Address and Prayer …………………..Pres. Stephen L. Richards

Response ………………………………………………..Pres. David O. McKay

Hymn ‘O Say What is Truth?’ ………………………Univ. Combined Choruses

Benediction………………………………………………Llewellyn R. McKay

I appreciated deeply tributes paid by President Stephen L. Richards and President Ernest L. Wilkinson during their remarks.

Members of the family who were present, and not listed on the program, were introduced to the audience.

At the conclusion of the services, (amidst a handshaking experience from the rostrum to the auto,) we drove up to the David O. McKay Building where a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open the building was held at the northeast entrance of the structure.  Sister McKay was handed a pair of scissors and then invited to clip the ribbon, and I declared the building officially opened for the purposes for which it has been erected.

A large crowd assembled for this event.

We then went on an inspection trip of the three floors of this new million-dollar edifice in which there are thirty-one classrooms, and one hundred and four offices.  I said to President Wilkinson:  ‘If these 104 offices, and thirty-one classrooms are needed right now, I should like to know what you did before you got them!’  He answered: ‘They had three or four teachers occupying the same offices, and some had to use their homes for this purpose.’

The building is beautiful and practical in every way.  The windows are large, which give a good view of the magnificent setting — the Wasatch mountains on the East, etc.  The furnishings, decorations harmonize in a most artistic way.

After the inspection of the building Sister McKay and I were honored at a luncheon,  Thomas E. McKay, his wife, my sons and daughter, and their wives and husband, and children, close associates, and B.Y.U. executives and faculty members were also guests.

Sister McKay and I were deeply moved and impressed by the ceremonies of the day, as also were my children, brother, and sisters.  It was indeed a milestone in all our lives.”

Sun. 29 May, 1955:

In the afternoon, upon the insistence of Sister McKay, I visited the home of Mrs. Cameron – the former Mrs. William E. Ryberg – whoe home is for sale.  The house, with all its modern equipment, is really a ‘dream’ house, and one any woman would love to have, but it is far too expensive for the McKay family.

Following the inspection of this house, Sister McKay and I went over to the City Cemetery where we put flowers on the following loved ones’ graves:

Our little son Royal

My brother Morgan P. McKay and his wife,

Katherine Cannon McKay

Sister McKay’s mother and brother

We found the graves in excellent condition, thanks to Brother Irvin T. Nelson who, with my consent, had newly landscaped the graves with hedges, plants, and flowers of various kinds.  Everything was beautiful and in perfect condition.

We then returned home where we remained for the rest of the evening.”

3 June, 1955:

“June 3, 1955

Mr. Irvin S. Olds

former Chairman of the Board

of the United States Steel Corporation

commends Pres. McKay.

14 Wall Street

New York 5

June 11, 1955

President David O. McKay

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Church Offices

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear President McKay:

You were an outstanding and magnificent presiding officer at the Commencement Exercises of Brigham Young University a week ago last night.  I am certain that your presence at the rostrum contributed mightily to the smooth and effective course of these colorful ceremonies, in which I was privileged to have a part.  Following your recent hospital experience, I hope that these three and a half hours on the platform, after the long automobile ride to Provo, did not prove to be too great a physical strain upon you.

Never was I the recipient of such high compliments as you paid me at this Commencement.  I only wish that I could feel that a good part of what you had to say about me has a sound basis in truth.  However, I will be frank and say that I was greatly pleased and felt highly honored by these nice words, whether deserved or otherwise.  My wife, who is not in robust health and was long in doubt as to the advisability of her going West with me, was delighted by your remarks and has since said several times what a mistake she would have made if she had stayed at home and not been present to see and hear you.  She wonders whether any transcript or recording was made of your introduction and prayer, of which she might sometime obtain a copy.  This is a matter which I will ask Mr. Krieg or Mr. McQuiddy of United States Steel to look into for me, so please do not bother about it yourself.

I enjoyed so much being in Utah last week with you and your associates in the Mormon Church and at Brigham Young University.  On my various trips to Salt Lake City, I have always been so warmly and graciously received by you and the other officials of the Church; I should like to say again that I am deeply grateful to you and the others for these much appreciated courtesies.  Of course, I shall always cherish my honorary degree from Brigham Young University – an honor of  the highest rank.

With warm best wishes from Mrs. Olds and me, and hopes that our paths will soon cross.

Sincerely yours,

Irving S. Olds

Tribute to Pres. McKay by

Irvin S. Olds June 3, 1955


14 Wall Street

New York 5


June 11, 1955

Dr. Ernest L. Wilkinson, President

Brigham Young University

Provo, Utah

Dear Dr. Wilkinson:

On Monday of this week our party arrived safely in New York, with a distinct feeling on the part of all of us that the graduation ceremonies at Brigham Young University last week had been a most inspiring and rewarding affair.  As I have previously stated, I was highly honored to be asked to be the speaker at the Commencement Exercises.  I trust that my remarks generally met the tests of appropriateness and otherwise for such an occasion.  I obeyed your instructions as to the length of my talk.

I shall ever be deeply grateful to you and the Trustees of your great institution for the high academic honor conferred upon me a week ago last night.  And I may add that it was a completely new and pleasant experience to receive an honorary degree in conjunction with the making of a Commencement Address and not to have been told officially in advance of the proposed award of the degree–as sort of a quid pro quo for being such a speaker.  I shall always cherish my LL.D. degree from Brigham Young University, and to have this connection with your University.

I want you to know how pleased I was to have this opportunity to make your personal acquaintance, as well as that of a number of your associates at the University.  Everyone at Brigham Young University was most hospitable and kind to Mrs. Olds and me, and also to our companions, Mr. and Mrs. Schuyler M. Meyer.  On behalf of all, I should like to record our grateful appreciation of these many courtesies.

It was indeed an honor of the highest order to have President McKay preside at the Commencement Exercises.  He is a grand man, dearly beloved by all who know him, myself included.  It will serve me well always to remember the nice things he said about me, which I trust have a little basis in fact.

I hope our paths may soon cross again.  In the meantime, you have my very best wishes and my deep thanks for everything connected with our interesting and worth-while visit to Provo last week.

Sincerely yours,

Irving S. Olds”

Wed., 9 Nov., 1955:

“2:30 p.m.  Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Pastor of the Marble Collegiate Church, New York, and internationally known author and lecturer, paid me a visit in the office of the First Presidency.  Dr. Peale is here in Salt Lake City to lecture in the Salt lake Tabernacle on the subject “Believe You Can, and You Can.’  Mr. Millard Bennett, internationally known speaker and as ‘Voice of Selling’ accompanied Dr. Peale.  He is also scheduled to speak tonight at the Tabernacle.

Note:  As Dr. Peale, an authority on psychology and personality, was heard by bishop John L. Herrick who sits in the foyer of the Church Offices, to say enthusiastically:  ‘He (President McKay) is the greatest personality I have ever met — he is a great man.’  Later, in his address in the S.L. Tabernacle he paid this same tribute publically to President McKay. (cm)  (see copy of tribute paid to Pres. McKay by Dr. Peale in the Salt Lake Tabernacle which follows)

November 9, 1955

Transcript taken from the talk given by Norman Vincent Peale in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on November 9, 1955:

‘Radio Service Corporation of Utah

Station KSL


‘And, I should like to thank President McKay and the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the great privilege they have accorded us to hold this meeting and speak in this great auditorium.  Incidentally, I had the pleasure today of a visit and interview with President McKay and I hope he won’t mind if I say that I’ll long remember this experience — for he is one of the most inspiring human beings that I have ever met and I shall never forget him.  Also, I’d like to say that I was in Europe all summer and everywhere I went I heard of the wonderful impression made by the great Tabernacle Choir that is famous around the world, and I just wish that I could have heard it tonight, but I guess it is not on the program much to my regret — we’ll hear the Choir again at some future time.’

November 9, 1955 – Tribute to President David O. McKay from Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

On November 9, 1955, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale visited President McKay, and later wrote the following:

I had a curious experience recently on a speaking tour out West.  I left New York on Monday night by plane.  I spoke in Boise, Idaho Tuesday night, in Salt lake City Wednesday night, in Tacoma, Washington Thursday evening, and was back in New York Friday morning; all this in thre days and four nights.  I returned with a jumbled, but inspiring impression of great cities, vast prairies, and huge mountain masses, fading into sunset and emerging into sunrise.  I have a hazy memory of the grim outline of the Wasatch Mountains over Great Salt Lake, that spot where Brigham Young said to his followers, ‘This is the place.  I remember the sun-kissed Saw-Tooth Range of mountains and the wilderness of Idaho emerging.  I saw Mount Rainier emerge from the clouds into radiant sunlight, its great cone covered wtih deep snow.  I saw the wind blowing that snow so that it looked like a sweeping bridal veil which the rising sun turned into rainbow colors.  I shall remember it as long as I live.

And that hurried trip did something for me; it refreshed me, elevated my spirits.  What a terrific country this is, a great, rugged, man-sized, indescribable land.  Some people say that flying over the United States in an airplane makes it shrink in size.  Not for me.  It makes it bigger, and it makes me feel akin to the tremendous land it is.

I can see why the Bible ties man in with the bigness of nature.  It is good for him.  The Psalmist talks about the tracery of His fingers, the sun and the moon, which He has ordained.  and against this backdrop He places people, the greatest specimens of God’s creative art.  No human being has any business being little, for he is carved on this scale and according to this pattern.  This is one reason why I have always had a great enthusiasm for people.

In Salt Lake City I met the President of the Mormon Church — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was ushered into a beautiful room; President Woodrow Wilson once called it the most beautiful room in the United States.  There, standing tall and stately against the beautiful panelled background, with a grat head of white hair, stood this imposing man of eighty-two.  At first I thought I detected a certain frailty of age, but concluded it was saintliness.  He impressed me with a depth of dignity that was apart from his position.

‘I would like to ask you one question, sir,’  I said.  ‘How can you be like this at eighty-two?’

He replied:  ‘I had the privilege I wish more American boys had today; I was born and reared on a farm.  I had to get up in the morning and work; that built up my body.  I was taught from my youngest days that it was important to carry a healthy body into old age.’  Then he added simply, ‘And I have always tried to live the life of Jesus Christ.’

God makes tremendous human beings.  Pull yourself up; eat right; sleep right; take care of your body.  Never think of your body as growing old.  Keep it young by keeping young thoughts in your mind, the temple of the soul.

(From ‘There’s A Lot In People’, a pamphlet written by Dr. Peale, 13N55 Vol. 7, No. 16)”

Tues., 15 Nov., 1955:

Telephone Calls

“Mrs. Christopher Athas regarding the conferring upon President McKay of the ecclesiastical cross of the Greek Church in New York — see notes following.

President Theodore C. Jacobsen of the Eastern States Mission regarding representing me in receiving the Greek ecclesiastical cross – see notes following

Telephone Conversations

    November 15, 1955

Mrs. Christopher Athas (EL 5-5061) called.  She said that last evening Mr. Athas received a phone call from Mr. Nicholas Papadakos, 80 Wall Street, who is representing the Arch Bishop Michael of the Greek Orthodox Church in New York.  The Church desires to confer upon President McKay the ecclesiastical cross in appreciation for what the Church did for the Greek people during the earthquake.  The Greek government has recognized the Mormon Church for what they did, and now the Church desires to do so.

This presentation is to be made Sunday, November 20, 1955.  If President McKay cannot be in attendance, they wish him to appoint a representative – probably the President of the Eastern States Mission.

I called President Theodore C. Jacobsen by telephone.  I explained to him about the honor the Greek Church desired to bestow upon me and asked him if he could represent me in New York City next Sunday, November 20th.  President Jacobsen stated that he had an appointment in Sunbury, Pennsylvania next Sunday, but he said that he would get one of his counselors to take care of his appointment, and he would go to New York to represent me.  President Jacobsen also stated that the Greek Church headquarters is located just around the corner from the Eastern States Mission headquarters, about fifty yards.  I told President Jacobsen that the Greek Church people would contact him, pick him up and take him to the television station where this honor is to be bestowed.

President Jacobsen stated that he would be glad to take care of this matter for me.  He asked if I had any special message to be given at that time.  I told him to acknowledge the honor and tell them how much I appreciate it.”

Sun., 20 Nov., 1955:

“Attended to special duties at the office.

Conferring of the ‘Golden Medal of the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America:

On November 18, 1955 received a telegram from Archbishop Michael of the Greek Orthodox church stating that their Church had decided to ‘officially acknowledge its gratitude for the contributions of the Church towards both the Greek War relief and the Ionian relief drives by offering its Golden Medal to your (our) Church.’  (see copy following)

On November 15, 1955 received a telephone call from Mrs. Christopher Athas who reported that Mr. Athas received a phone call from Mr. Nicholas Papadakos of New York who was representing ArchBishop Michael of the Greek Orthodox Church in New York who reported that Arch Bishop Michael was desirous of conferring the ecclesiastical cross upon President McKay.  (see Nov. 15, 1955 for this telephone conversation)

Inasmuch as President McKay cannot be in attendance at the service of the Greek Orthodox Church to be held Sunday, Nov. 20, it was decided to call by telephone President Theodore C. Jacobsen of the Eastern States Mission and ask him to attend the service and represent President McKay in receiving the Cross (see Nov. 15 for this conversation with Pres. Jacobsen)

On November 21, 1955 President Jacobsen sent a letter giving a detailed account of the presentation which was made at the Television Studios of Station WATV in Newark, New Jersey at 6:35 p.m. Eastern Standard Time by Father James Aloupis who represented ArchBishop Michael.  (see copy following – also see newspaper clippings, and President McKay’s letter of acceptance to ArchBishop Michael)

November 20, 1955


Telegram:  Western Union November 18, 1955

7:00 p.m.

From:  New York, New York

To:  President David O. McKay:

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, mindful of the great interest shown and the generous contributions of your Church towards both the Greek War relief and the Ionian relief drives, has decided to officially acknowledge its gratitude by offering its Golden Medal to your Church.

Presentation of the medal to your representative, Mr. Theodore Jacobson, will take place next Sunday, November 20, between 6-7 p.m., at the Hellenic American Television Hour TV Station Number 13.

May God Almighty bless you and your organization, and may he strengthen you in your magnificent philanthropic endeavors.

Archbishop Michael

November 21, 1955

November 26, 1955

The Most Reverend Michael

Archbishop of North and South America

10 East 79th Street

New York City, New York

Your Eminence:

Our Mission President, Theodore C. Jacobsen, has informed us of the impressive proceedings at the Hellenic American Television Hour, Station W.A.T.V., last Sunday, 6:25 p.m. during which the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America most graciously bestowed its Golden Medal ‘denoting the dignity and glory of unselfish deeds.’

In behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I acknowledge with gratitude the receipt, on Thanksgiving, of this prized Golden Medal, and especially the gracious sentiments expressed in your personal telegram announcing the presentation, and invoking Divine blessings upon the church and its President in all philanthropic endeavors.

May God bless you and the Hellenic people.

Very truly yours,



November 20, 1955


November 23, 1955

President Theodore C. Jacobsen

Eastern States Mission

973-5th Avenue

New York City 21, New York

Dear President Jacobsen:

Just a note to thank you for your letter of November 21, 1955, giving me the details regarding the presentation of the ‘Golden Medal of the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America.’

I greatly appreciate your kindness in representing me at this presentation.

With prayerful wishes for your continued success, I remain

Sincerely yours,




November 21, 1955



Eastern States Mission

New York 21, New York

  November 21, 1955

President David O. McKay

47 East South Temple

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear President McKay:

Last night about 6:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at the Television Studios of Station WATV in Newark, New Jersey, you were presented with the ‘Golden Medal of the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America’, a recognition ‘denoting the dignity and glory of unselfish deeds.’

The presentation for the Greek Orthodox Church was made for Archbishop Michael by ‘Father’ James Aloupis.  In accordance with your instructions, I was honored to represent you and the membership of the Church.

In the main, the following is about what the writer said in accepting this medal on the television program:

‘Thank you, Reverend Aloupis.  Representing President David O. McKay 

of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the members of the Church, I am honored to humbly accept this medal from the Greek Archdiocese of North

and South America.  May I make this brief explanation that when the Mormon

people contributed these supplies to the courageous Greek people in the time of

their need, there was no thought that any medal would be given or any public recognition made of this act.

‘In common with freedom-loving people everywhere, we of the Mormon faith 

have high regard for the contributions of Greece and her people to our civilization

and we are aware of the great defense of their homeland that the citizens of Greece, time and time again, have made against tremendous odds.

‘If these supplies have proven useful and helpful to the Grecian people, we are

appreciative of the opportunity we have had to be of service to our fellowmen.

‘Would you kindly convey to Archbishop Michael the thanks of President McKay

for this token of appreciation.  May I further express our gratitude for the spirit

of kindness and brotherhood which prompted the presentation of this Golden

Medal.  Thank you again, Reverend Aloupis.’

You may be interested to know that this program was televised ‘live’ over Channel 13 whose transmission facilities are atop the Empire State Building in New York City.  The coverage of this station is New York City, its metropolitan area, western Connecticut, and northeastern New Jersey.  Probably not less than 15,000,000 people live in this area.

Andre Michaelopaulis, who visited in Salt Lake about two months ago, and who is Advisor to the Greek Embassy, had a prominent part in the Television Program.  In his remarks he told of his visit to Salt Lake City and made reference to ‘President McKay of the Mormon Church as a kind, Christian gentleman.’

Reverend Aloupis was most gracious and complimentary to our Church for the aid rendered the Greek people in the hour of their need.  The Reverend Aloupis talked about the same length of time as I did.  The program was an hour long and our part a phase in almost the middle of the hour period.

As I drove over to Newark in the late afternoon, I thought if President McKay were here, then Archbishop Michael would make the medal presentation, but because of your inability to be present, protocol, in their mind, was involved and therefore ‘Father’ Aloupis, a lesser authority, was chosen for the assignment.  However, when I met the Reverend Aloupis, I learned why he had been selected.  He is one of the most handsome men I have met, very photogenic and gracious.  There was no question but what he gives a fine impression on television.

Archbishop Michael phoned one day last week and invited me to visit him around the corner where their headquarters are, just a small, half-block from our Mission office.  Possibly when you are here again, you may be able to meet him at our office or in theirs.

President McKay, I enjoyed this unusual experience.  I hope that everything was done in a way that was pleasing to you and the Church.

Under separate cover the Medal is being forwarded to you by registered mail.

Sincerely your brother,

/T//S/Theodore C. Jacobsen

Mission President


February 26, 


Presented to


At the Annual Meeting of the Great Salt Lake

Council of the Boy Scouts of


Held Thursday, January 26, 1956 at the Coliseum



supporter of the Boy Scout and Explorer Scout Programs.  His approval of the Cub 

Scouting program two years ago has given rise to 150 Cub Packs and more than five 

thousand Cub Scouts.

Civic leader, business leader, and inspirational leader of young men and boys in 

all parts of the world.  Honorary member of the Great Salt Lake Council Executive Board, 

holder of the Silver Buffalo national award.

President Smedley, the Great Salt Lake Council is honored to present Scouter 

President David O. McKay and Sister McKay.”

Fri., 29 June, 1956:

“Note:  Dr. Edward Hart of the Brigham Young University called at the office and asked for information regarding President McKay’s life and activity.  Dr. Hart has been commissioned by President Wilkinson of the Brigham Young University to write a poem to commemorate President McKay’s fifty years of service in the Church.

After giving him a folder of articles written about President McKay, Dr. Hart was shown the file room containing 80 or more scrap books containing all published material and speeches by President McKay, in addition to special letters, articles, and mementoes associated with the President’s church service.  (cm)”

Thurs., 26 July, 1956:

“At 11:30 a.m., met by appointment, arranged through Elder Richard L. Evans and Brother Marion Hanks of the Seventy’s Office, Mr. Walter Reuther, President of the United Auto Workers, and Vice-President of the AFL-CIO.

The following were present during the interview:

Elder Richard L. Evans

Elder Marion Hanks

Dr. Sterling McMurrin of the U of U

Dr. Homer Durham and Dr. Lowell Durham of the U of U

We met in the office of the First Presidency.

I enjoyed my visit with Mr. Reuther very much.  He seems to be a very able leader, a true gentleman, a man of noble character.  He loves his home.  He was accompanied by his wife and three children of whom he is very proud.  He is temperate — neither smokes nor drinks.  He is in Salt Lake City on vacation.  Has listened to the Salt Lake Tabernacle broadcasts, and was desirous of visiting Temple Square.

While we were visiting together, Dr. McMurrin made the remark that Mr. Reuther maintains the ideals of the Mormon Religion; that he did not see why he is not a member of our Church.  I answered: ‘He lacks one thing, and that is baptism by immersion.’

I commended Mr. Reuther for his stand against Communism, and its infiltration into the ranks of the Unions.

Later:  – Notes by Clare, secretary to President McKay:

Elder Richard L. Evans called by telephone and said that he was greatly impressed with President McKay during the interview with Mr. Reuther.  He said:  ‘President McKay knows just the right thing to say at these conferences – he impresses these important visitors with his great humility, dignity, and naturalness.’

Brother Marion Hanks also expressed his opinion of the interview — He said: ‘It was wonderful the way President McKay talked to Mr. Reuther.  His mentioning Mr. Reuther’s stand against communism, etc. was very timely.’   He then said:  ‘Mr. Reuther made the following comment about President McKay following the interview with him:  ‘I doubt that another generation will produce a character like that.'”

Mon., 20 Aug., 1956:

Went to Huntsville this afternoon to get some fresh air, thinking that it would hasten my recovery from the illness of the past few days.

However, as I was leaving the farm, I witnessed an automobile accident which upset me.  The driver of the car, a man, was thrown clear of the car, but the woman was pinned underneath the upturned car.  I helped to lift the car from off the woman and stayed until the police were notified.  The woman was injured acrss the lower part of her body; her head and shoulders being in the hollow of the ditch escaped the full force of the accident.”

*During tWed., 30 Jan., 1957:he First Presidency’s Meeting reference was made to the following:  Missionary Farewell for President McKay’s Grandson

Bishop Boyden’s inquiry as to the wishes of President McKay with relation to conducting the farewell program for Douglas McKay, President McKay’s grandson, was presented.  President McKay suggested that the usual procedure be followed, and that he speak before the missionary and that the missionary’s talk come last.  The date of the farewell is February 24.  (See First Presidency’s Meeting Minutes.)  (Douglas McKay has been called to fill a mission in Uruguay.)

Sun., 24 Feb., 1957:

“At 5:30 in the evening while I was in the study at home preparing for my address at the 

Missionary Farewell of my grandson Douglas McKay, Sister McKay heard a knock at the door and then a scratching on the screen door which was locked.  She went to the door and there stood a rather nervous-looking man – dark and slightly built.  He said that he wanted to ask me one question, and Sister McKay told him that I was just getting ready to leave for a meeting.  As he insisted upon seeing me, she reported to me that a man wished to ask me a question.  I accompanied Sister McKay to the door and met the man to whom I said, looking at him intently, ‘Who are you, and what question would you like to ask?’  He answered that his name is Rudert, and then said, ‘Have you read Ezekiel?’

Remembering that this man had been coming to the office for days and had been interviewed by Brother Reiser to whom Rudert had reported that he is the ‘one mighty and strong’ that I am a fallen Prophet, etc. etc., I said to him:  ‘Have you seen your Bishop?’  As I looked at him, Rudert became very nervous and started to tremble.  He answered me in a weak tone that he had not been to his Bishop and I said:  ‘You had better report to him.’  He seemed very frightened and turned and left.

I then remembered that it had been reported to me that Rudert had said that if he could look me in the eye that I would fall dead in front of him.  When I did not fall before him, he evidently realized that he was in the wrong.”

Thurs., 7 Mar., 1957:

“2:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.  Mr. and Mrs. Manfred Rudert called by appointment at their request.  Mr. Rudert claims he has had revelations that he is the ‘one mighty and strong’ – that I am a ‘false Prophet’ and that if he could look me in the face ‘I would drop dead’.  (see report of the visit following.)

March 7, 1957

Memorandum on President McKay’s Meeting with Manfred Rudert and his wife, Lucie, in the President’s Board Room, Thursday, March 7, 1957, 2:00 p.m.

Thursday morning, March 7, 1957, a few minutes before 10 o’clock, before President Mckay left for the meeting in the Temple, he informed me that he would see Manfred Rudert and his wife at two o’clock that afternoon in the President’s Board Room.

I accordingly asked Brother Zimmer, who speaks German, and who had asked on behalf of Sister Rudert whether or not President McKay had replied to her request for an interview, to inform Brother and Sister Rudert of the appointment.

At 1:30 p.m. Brother and Sister Rudert came to my office, room 308.  I telephoned to President McKay’s office and Mary Hillier informed me later to come down with them.

We arrived in the President’s Board Room and very soon thereafter President McKay came out of his room.  I introduced him to Manfred Rudert and his wife, Lucie.  President McKay asked them questions about Brother Rudert’s present employment and their situation.  They gave the information that he is employed as a pattern maker at Eimco Steel Works in this city; that he has been a member of the Church about 9 1/2 years and that Sister Rudert was born in the Church in Germany.  She thanked President McKay for granting them the interview.

Brother Rudert proceeded to relate events of his life and President McKay invited them to be seated.  Brother Rudert has fair English language ability and made himself understood without much difficulty.  He said that he does not remember his father and that he grew up in orphanages in Germany.  She thanked President McKay for granting them the interview.

Brother Rudert proceeded to relate events of his life and President McKay invited them to be seated.  Brother Rudert has fair English language ability and made himself understood without much difficulty.  He said that he does not remember his father and that he grew up in orphanages in Germany.  In his youth he was a  ‘Hitler Jungend’.  He related his becoming a member of the Apostolic Church; and the manifestation he had in the woods when he saw a large face in a great light, which he interpreted as the face of God.  He described the intense and exhilarating feeling which accompanied this manifestation.  He recounted briefly the occasion when he was summoned before a court of the Apostolic Church, when he was restored to the privilege of receiving the Sacrament.

He stated that subsequently he was hospitalized for treatment of a stomach ailment and for operations.  He was visited by a woman, a member of the Apostolic Church, who later brought with her a woman who was a Mormon.  From the latter he obtained much information and the opportunity to read the Book of Mormon and several other books.  This resulted in his becoming a member of the Church.

(He omitted from this recital an account he had earlier given me about other dreams he had had; one which resulted in his finding his present wife, and another relating to his acquiring his present property in Salt Lake City, both of which eventuated about as he had dreamed.)  He seems to interpret such successes as evidence that the Lord communicates with him and guides him through his dreams.

He related to President McKay the dream in which he saw large numbers of men whom he understood to be men of the priesthood, marching together to discordant music from trumpets, which upon closer observations he found to be guns.  In this dream he also observed a very old man reclining upon a rock.  A shallow pool set in an area of green lawn, he observed was being used as a baptismal font into which a girl gaily clad and with much lipstick walked and who later dried herself with a towel taken from her clothing and he surmised she was considered to have been baptized.  A young boy was baptized by being very forcibly put into the water several times, which resulted in his collapsing and passing away.  He stated that his reaction to this was to protest that this was a travesty on baptism.  As he looked upon the old man, reclining on the rock, whom he understood to be responsible for this state of affairs, a force moved the man from sight and a large transparent stone was placed before the people, upon which Manfred Rudert himself was placed; his interpretation being that he became, or is to become, the successor to the old man, whom he identified as President McKay.

He explained that it was this dream which caused him to claim that he is the one referred to in Section 85 of the Doctrine and Covenants and that he expected that if the manifestation to him be from God, that he would be surrounded by a great light as evidence of the validity of his understanding.  He said that since now that he has told President McKay, no light appears, the manifestation must not be true.  Whereupon he apologized to President McKay for all he had said and written and he asked President McKay to forgive him.  He made the statement that President McKay was the one to receive manifestations for the Church, and that he was to received them only for himself.

President McKay advised him to be faithful, to do his duty in the Church, and to be kind to his wife.  Brother Rudert accepted this advice and said he would.

I asked him if he felt better now and he replied that he felt free and much better.  He smiled warmly and Sister Rudert, with tear-filled eyes, thanked President McKay very warmly for his patience and his kindness, and they withdrew from the room.

A. Hamer Reiser

P.S.  Monday afternoon, March 11, 1957, at about 4:45, Brother Rudert came to room 308 where he told me in considerable detail about his physical afflictions, the operations for the removal of his stomach and other corrective surgery, which have brought him only short relief and asked me to reommend to him a Latter-day Saint psychiatrist and neurologist.  At his request, I made an appointment for him with Dr. Moench, at the Salt Lake Clinic, who will see him at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, 1957.


Thurs., 4 Apr., 1957:

“At 9 a.m. left for the Salt Lake Temple to attend the special fast meeting of all General Authorities held semi-annually.

This meeting which lasted until 1:45 p.m. was soul-satisfying and inspirational!

Later:  Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson called my secretary, Clare, and reported the following:

‘I have just returned from the meeting of the General Authorities — I want to tell you that never has President McKay lifted that group of men to the heights as he did this morning.  The Conference will be a success because of that meeting.’  (note made by Clare)

Several of the brethren called and reported that they were thrilled and uplifted by the meeting.  (cm)

Mon., 6 May, 1957:

At Laguna Beach

“Rested during the day and also took the opportunity to go over my sister, Jeanette’s (Mrs. Joseph R. Morrell) manuscript of the biographical sketch of my life she intends to publish.  I feel that I should recommend to her that she had better not print this biographical book until after I am gone.  However, that will be left up to her decision.

Mon., 10 Feb., 1958:

“8:30 a.m.

Met by appointment at his request, Mr. Dan Dresden who is associated with the Mullin Advertising Agency of New York.  Ted Cannon of the Church Information Service had arranged for the interview.

Mr. Dresden is writing an article on the Church and its President in connection with my 85th birthday anniversary.  He asked various questions about the Church and world conditions.

One question he asked was ‘What is the greatest event of this century?’  I said that I thought the breaking up of the atom was the most far-reaching event of the century.  Then Mr. Dresden asked ‘Do you think America is carrying out her part as a leading Nation of the world?’  I answered Yes that I think America is doing her part very well.

Another Question he asked was:  ‘If you had Aladdin’s Lamp to rub and could give to America one great thing which would help her the most, what would it be?’

I answered that if I could have Aladdin’s Lamp and could give to America the thing which would benefit her the most, I would have all men accept the teachings of the Christ; to love the Lord their God with all their might, mind and strength, and their neighbor as themselves.  This, I said, would bring about peace and happiness.  I stated that even though men say it is impractical to following such teachings, I think they can be followed and that it would be the greatest gift that could come not only to our own country, but to the world.  I said further, that if those principles were applied, even men with hate in their hearts would become friendly, and I gave an illustration to prove my point.”

Fri., 6 June, 1958:

“11 a.m.

I received in the office of the First Presidency Jack Dempsey, former heavyweight champion of the world.  Mr. George Florey of Chicago, a business associate of Jack Dempsey’s, Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson, Brother Don Mack Dalton, former President of the South African Mission and childhood friend of Jack Dempsey, and representatives of the Ogden Standard Examiner and Chamber of Commerce, accompanied him.

As I greeted Jack Dempsey, shook his hand and looked into his eyes, I said: ‘I have waited a long, long time for this–I have wanted to meet you ever since I heard of you as a young man and later when you climbed to fame as the world champion.  I congratulate you on your achievements!

I then told him that I wanted to tell him an experience that I had had when I was in Scotland as a young man on my first mission.  I had become discouraged and homesick one day.  Among other things, a Scotch woman had said to me as I handed her a tract:  ‘Ye better gae hame; ye canna have any o’oor lassies!’  Well I did not want any of their lassies; I had left a sweet one at home, but it made me discouraged to think of the ill-will which these people had toward the Mormons.  What misconceived notions they had of our purpose among them!  I had just left school, and I loved school and loved young people, and then to go over there and feel their antipathy and prejudice gave me the blues.  Furthermore, it was Spring, and as I looked out over the beautiful fields of green, I could see men plowing, getting reading to do their Spring planting.  Having come from a farm in a beautiful valley in Huntsville, these scenes made me truly homesick.

I was with Peter G. Johnston, one of the truest friends in all the world.  He was from Idaho, and experienced – a wealthy man, and a lover of all things beautiful.  I was fortunate to have his companionship.  We had been assigned to Stirling, that historic town of which we read in the ‘Lady of the Lake’ where James Fitz James won the championship, and James of Scotland had his dogs and his orchards to keep.  Well, I was very interested in these things.  We had just been on a tour of old Stirling Castle, and it was afternoon when we left that historic site and started out east of town; that is, around the castle over the playground where James Fitz James and Douglas had their contests.  As we were coming back into town, I saw on my right an unfinished dwelling, over the front door of which was a stone on which there was some carving.  That was most unusual, so I said to Elder Johnston:  ‘I’m going to see what that is.’  I was half way up the graveled walk when there came to my eyesight a striking motto carved in stone–it read ‘WHATE’ER THOU ART, ACT WELL THY PART.’  I repeated it to Elder Johnston as we walked in to town to find a place for our lodging before we began our work.  As we walked toward our destination, I thought about this motto – Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part,’ and took it as a direct message to me, and I said to myself, or the Spirit said to me, ‘You are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; more than that – you are here in the Mission Field as a representative of the Church, and you are to act well your part as a missionary, and you should get into the work with all your heart.’

I then said to Jack Dempsey:  ‘I congratulate you as a man who has acted well your part–one who has brought honor to your profession.  More than that –you have been a true son to your parents.  I know of your having purchased a home on South Temple for your mother.  There is something to a man who will be good to his mother.  You have been fair in your dealings with men.

Then we began to tell stories of our lives to one another — Jack Dempsey was interested in the fact that I had been a member of the first football team of the University of Utah.

Following our conversation pictures were taken.

Note by Secretary, Clare Middlemiss

On June 11, a testimonial dinner was given in Jack Dempsey’s honor, and Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson was one of the speakers.

In responding to the speeches and honor paid to him, Dempsey (it was reported by Bishop Isaacson) said, among other things:  ‘My inspiration was my mother.  She prayed that I would be a champion and everything good that came to me, I owe to my mother’s prayers and confidence.  She was a good Mormon, and I want to be a good Mormon like her.’  He then referred to his visit with President David O. McKay, and said that to look into his eyes and to shake hands with him was one of the greatest thrills of his life.  (see newspaper clippings following)

Also, when Jack Dempsey heard that President McKay was in the hospital for eye surgery, he sent him a telegram, a copy of which follows:

‘June 10, 1958

‘President David O. McKay

Salt Lake City, Utah

My prayers and good wishes go to and with you always!

/s/ Jack Dempsey

(original in scrap book)

Later in the day, at the request of the program chairman in Ogden, President McKay autographed one of his photographs which was placed in a scrap book with other mementoes and tributes from friends and presented to Jack Dempsey at the testimonial dinner.

President McKay’s autograph on Dempsey’s picture is as follows:

‘To ‘Jack’ Dempsey whose integrity, defense of Right, fair-dealing, loyalty to friends and Loved Ones, carried honor to his profession, and marked him among millions as an admired Champion.’

/s/ Sincerely,

David O. McKay, President

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Don Mack Dalton, presented Jack Dempsey with a copy of President McKay’s book ‘Gospel ideals’.  This was also autographed by President McKay.

Note:  an interesting letter from Mr. George F. Florey, business associate of Jack Dempsey, expressing appreciation for their visit to Salt Lake, their meeting of President McKay, Bishop Isaacson, etc.  He also tells of the prayerful attitude of Jack.

(see notes following from Mr. Don Mack Dalton regarding his account of the visit of Jack Dempsey with Pres. McKay.)

Friday, June 6, 1958

George F. Florey, Inc.

Advertising Public Relations

Field Building, 135 South LaSalle Street, Chicago 3, Illinois

DEarborn 2-1634

June 20, 1958

Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Salt Lake City 1, Utah

Dear Bishop Isaacson:

Since I returned to Chicago, I have been so deeply involved in catching up with work that accumulated while I was in Salt Lake City, I haven’t had the opportunity of writing you for I, too, wish to express my gratitude for having the privilege of meeting you and President McKay.

I wish I had been allotted more time at the dinner to tell the true story of Dempsey today, because it is not one that you can tell effectively in a hurried fashion.

Confidentially, Bishop Isaacson, Jack is usually on his knees three times a day giving thanks and asking for help and guidance from the Almighty.

Another interesting facet of Dempsey’s life, which he only states privately, and he has said it to me a hundred times in ten years when I chide him about being too generous, is:  ‘Georgie, you will never understand it, but I am just trying to be as good a Mormon as Mother Dempsey wanted me to be.’

One night while Billy Graham was appearing at Madison Square Gardens, without provocation or suggestion, Dempsey rounded up fifteen or twenty people in his restaurant.  Some of these men were associated with the fight game, some were friends, and some were just ‘hangers-on.’  Dempsey said:  ‘You fellows are going with me tonight to Madison Square Gardens.  It is about time you got better acquainted with the Lord.’  Believe it or not, Bishop Isaacson, he took the entire entourage to hear Billy Graham.

I thought that President McKay was one of the most inspiring men I have ever met.  I would also like to congratulate you on your most outstanding tribute to Jack Dempsey at the Ogden dinner.  It was a talk that touched Jack deeply and one that gave him reassurance that he was probably a better Mormon than he had given himself credit for being.

Knowing Jack as well as I do, I can sincerely state that I hope some day I can be as good a Presbyterian as Dempsey is a Mormon.

If you are ever in Chicago, I would consider it a privilege to hear from you.  My best wishes will always go to and with you.


/s/ George F. Florey


Friday, June 6, 1958.


      Attorney at Law

Peoples State Bank Bldg.

    American Fork, Utah

Dec. 9, 1958

President David O. McKay

47 East South Temple St.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear President McKay:

The enclosed may be interesting to you.  It is my account of the visit to you of Jack Dempsey last June.  I believe you will find some interesting thoughts, particularly your expression to us ‘What ‘ere thou art, do well thy part’.

Only recently I obtained a copy of the picture of you, Jack and I.  We are all about the same height.  If I can obtain another I will send it to you.

May the Lord bless you always,


/s/ Don Mack Dalton

(Original letter and enclosure is in the scrapbook.)

Friday, June 6, 1958.


Jack Dempsey and I were born in Manassa, Colorado.  He on June 24th, and I on May 12, 1895.  I think the first fight for either was on a manure pile back of Jimmy Daniel’s livery stable in Manassa while playing.  His father was a strong man and worked chopping railroad ties for my father up the Conejos canyon.  The ties were floated down the river about 30 miles to market at the railroad.  Both little boys grew holding respect for each other’s parents.  Dempseys moved to western Colorado where at 15 Harry (Jack) started professional boxing.

The LDS church has always been dear to Jack, although his activities have been such that he was attracted in other directions.  To develop into an athlete who drew over a million dollars at the gate five times would pretty well engage one’s whole time and attention.  Thru the years Jack maintained his allegiance to the Mormon church and one of his hoped for experiences was to fill a mission.  He has stood on street corners with missionaries holding street meetings.  At Lincoln fields near Chicago, while he was training for his last Tuney fight he expressed his desire to go on a mission.  I was there at his invitation to help him with his training and then go on to fill a short mission in the Eastern States.

He has been and is always so busy.  The high and low clamor to be with him.  It is hard to get his exclusive attention as he is ready to move and help and to recognize as a friend anyone whose eyes he may see.  I’ve tried to get him into the Church Office Building to see some of the General Authorities and last June 6th, 1958 we were both in the office of President David O. McKay.  I talked with the president the day before and he wanted me to come with Jack and Jack wanted me to go with him and all the time I wanted them to get together and there they were.  As Jack came into the foyer President McKay came to the door leading to his reception room.  Jack extended his hand and President McKay took it in both of his and said:  ‘I’ve always wanted to meet you.’  He acted just like everyone else does when meeting Jack.  And Jack said to him that he was very happy, proud and honored to meet him.  We sat down and started to talk, and the following are some of the thoughts which passed one to the other.

I mentioned that for many years I had worked for this meeting; that I hoped for Jack to go on a mission for the church as he is so widely known and respected and could advertise the church far and wide and influence many people.  Jack was eager to talk about it, but his sincerity and modesty prompted him to ‘come clean’ with this great man of God and he said:  ‘President McKay, I smoke a little and drink a little and am not active in the church.’  The President took it all in stride when I spoke up and said:  ‘He doesn’t do it much, but one thing about it he is an honest man; that there are thousands who break the Word of Wisdom who wouldn’t be as honest as Jack.’  At this point both smiled and it was concluded that Jack’s participation in the forbidden things during his life would have to be the minimum, because he couldn’t become champion of the world and dissipated very much.

President McKay has been to Manassa to conference as a General Authority and understood the surroundings.  Jack and I spoke about our means of transportation as in our young days things were so hard we couldn’t own a riding pony like the other kids, but as we could buy a burro for a quarter or trade a pocket knife for such a steed we had to be satisfied wtih a slower mechanism, but giving us the advantage of riding closer to the ground.

This talk created interest in President McKay who talked about his ranch at Huntsville, about his horses and etc., then he said:  ‘You know that riding pony of mine keeps getting higher and higher and the other day I couldn’t hardly get on him because he was so high; but I finally made it.’  He then said he was 84 years of age.  Jack said he had met brother Young in the foyer who was 93 and brother Herrick who was 90 and now President McKay and said:  ‘I actually believe I’m the oldest of the four.’

President McKay said he would like to tell us a little story about a trip he had in Scotland.  He said his party was led by a guide to many places and to wind up the trip they approached a little old church.  He noticed a dim writing over the front door but could read it and it was this:  ‘What ‘ere thou art, do well thy part.’  He then turned to Jack and said:  ‘Jack, you have done well your part.  After 32 years have expired since you lost the world’s championship, you have maintained great respect and endeared yourself to all the world–you are still a champion.  You as a boxer have made it a leading sport.  It has been your life’s work and you have honored it and it has honored you as the greatest boxer in the hall of fame for the past 50 years.’  Jack modestly blushed and the President continued:  ‘I lived on South Temple street and saw the lovely home you gave to your mother and observed your kindness and love for you parents in their old age.  This is the spirit of the gospel to honor thy father and mother.’

By this time others came into the large reception room and our pointed talk ceased and went into general and more light conversation.  Pictures were being taken here and there and President McKay said to us, ‘Come over here by the fireplace so we can have our picture together.’  We again were alone and after the picture was made we held hands and I said to President McKay something about a mission for Jack.  He looked at us both and said:  ‘This man is filling a wonderful mission and I want him to continue.  He has represented the church very well and I am certain he will continue.  He is so busy, has so much to do and is under contract for his appearance services and I believe he is doing all right.  He tells the people all over the world that he is a Mormon and is proud of it and in his TV and Radio appearances he always gets in something about the church.  That is good enough and etc…’

On June 11, 1958 at Ogden Golf & Country Club, Ogden, Utah several hundred friends of varied faiths, businesses, activities and professions assembled for a dinner to honor Jack Dempsey.  It was not a religious gathering and Max Baer was there to make things merry–which he did.  However, after many tributes were paid to Jack, Max was asked to say a few words.  He called Jack ‘Brother Dempsey’ and played with wit and imitation and general innuendo until he branched into the real Dempsey.  His eyes filled, his lips quivered, his facial muscles relaxed and he looked at the man who was his ideal in life and who had helped him to become a world champion himself and said:  ‘Partner, when the good Lord made you He threw away the pattern’ and walked over to Jack, kissed him and sat down and cried.  Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson told of his admiration for Jack and said he had looked up his church record and found Jack was baptised by John A. Smith when he was eight years of age and was confirmed by Hugh Sellers of Manassa; that Jack was ordained a Deacon at the age of 15 when Dempseys lived in Provo.

It was Jack’s turn to speak.  He thanked so many for coming to pay him honor and in general made each one feel he had a special interest in their mutual friendship; that he wanted each one to be happy and to enjoy this life.  And at 63 he acknowledged that time was getting short for us all.  He then started to talk about his meeting with President McKay and felt so happy to have been so close to him.  As he continued to talk he told of the church and what it meant to him and how proud he was to be a Mormon boy.  He further said he had a testimony of its truthfulness; that many, many times the Church had given to his family when they were in dire need in the early days, food, clothing and warmth.  That he was one who needed such things and they were supplied liberally by the members of the Church.  He referred to the steadfastness of his mother as a Mormon; that she tried to live the gospel and gave him inspiration and teachings.

Jack always said during his boxing years that his mother was his War Department.  He talked with her every day on the ‘phone and always got an answer.  ‘Watch yourself and keep going.’  She weighed 97 pounds.

Jack has two daughters and four grand-children, lives in Santa Monica, California.


Don Mack Dalton

P.S.  I’ve put in quotes the words of the conversations. Perhaps I shouldn’t have tried to do so, but it is as I recollect.

Wed., 9 July, 1958:

“Note by Secretary

Today, noting a worried look on the President’s face, and noting a loss of about 30 pounds since eye surgery, during trip to New Zealand, etc., I said:  ‘President McKay, unbeknown to most people, you have had a hard life, haven’t you – seven children – the sending of four sons on a mission, having been an apostle of the Church since young manhood, very little conveniences during the most of your life, etc. etc.’  The President related some of his financial hardships, as well as the trials of illness, etc. and then said in a serious tone of voice, ‘Yes, I have had a hard life; it hasn’t been easy, but I would not have an easy life; I wouldn’t have it any other way.'”

Mon., 25 Aug., 1958:

“At 9 p.m. at home a newly called missionary visited the home, and asked me to interview him for his mission.  I told him to call at the office tomorrow morning; that it is the duty of one of the Twelve to interview him.

Very rarely do we have an evening free at home — members of the Church are continually calling there.”

Thurs., 28 Aug., 1958:

Note:  President McKay had previously protested at the exorbitant price for hotel reservations at Claridges, and rather than pay their high prices changed his reservations to Grosvenor House in London.”

Thurs., 9 Apr., 1959:

“Thursday, April 9, 1959

Investigator in the Central American Mission Has Dream

Concerning President David O. McKay

Interesting Item concerning President David O. McKay related by President Stephen L. Richards at Council Meeting, Thursday, April 9, 1959.

Faith-Promoting Incident from Central American Mission

President Stephen L. Richards called attention to the report of Brother and Sister Edgar L. Wagner of their presidency of the Central American Mission.  He said that it was a very interesting report and that he had asked Brother Joseph Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency, to extract a portion of the report that it might be read to the Brethren for their information.  This extract as follows was read to the Council:

‘Elder Edgar L. Wagner in reporting his presidency of the Central American Mission related this testimony which he said that the brother who was the first convert in the city of Patzicia, Guatemala bore last October in the district conference in Guatemala.  President Wagner said that at the end of the last session of the conference he felt impressed to call upon this man to bear his testimony.  President Wagner was planning on taking the last few minutes himself but he said to the district president, ‘You had better call on Daniel Mich and let him bear his testimony.’

‘He told about how he came into the Church and how he loves the Church, how much the Church has done for him and his family and how now he can see light, for he was in darkness then.  He said, ‘I want to tell you a dream I had.’  He had a dream where he saw himself going up the side of a mountain outside of the town they live in, climbing up a mountain on a trail, and as he was doing so he came to a fork in the middle of the trail,  and there was a man standing there who spoke to him and said, ‘You come and follow me.’  He said he observed this man and he did not look like he should follow him and he told him, ‘No, I want to go straight ahead.’    He continued and left this man by the side of the trail.  He came to another fork in the trail and the same thing happened, and he said, ‘No, I’m going straight ahead.’  And there was a third one who told him, ‘You should follow me because where I’m going you will have abundance,’ but he said, ‘I could not see any happiness in that man and I told him, ‘I have to go straight ahead.’  At this time he said, ‘I was at the top of the mountain and there I saw a man who was a tall and large man and who had a lot of white hair, and this man said to me, ‘You come and go with me,’ and he said, ‘I saw in that man that I should go with him,’ and he said, ‘I went with him.’

‘He told this to the missionaries first before he had borne a testimony.  The missionaries listened to this and a week or two later they went back to his home and they had in their brief case a picture of President McKay and after they had talked to him a few minutes they took this picture out and said, ‘Have you ever seen this picture before?’  They said his eyes got big and he said, ‘This is the man I saw at the top of the hill,’ and when he bore his testimony he hit the pulpit with his fist and said, ‘I know he is a prophet because I saw him before I ever joined this Church.'”

Tues., 8 Dec. 1959:

“11 a.m.

I came out of the meeting of the Committee on Expenditures to my private office where I met by appointment, previously arranged, Mr. M.A. Atkinson, Jr., District Sales Manager of the American Airlines of New York, with offices at Phoenix, Arizona.

Mr. Atkinson said that he had flown to Salt Lake at the request of the officials of the American Airlines of New York to present me a signal honor of their company by naming me an ‘Admiral of the Flagship Fleet.’  He explained that this is the ‘highest honor that can be bestowed by our company and that it is a policy of our company to recognize outstanding leadership and men who have made a real contribution to the welfare of the world.’  Mr. Atkinson then said ‘we have received many fine reports about the contributions you have made, and we want you to know that we pick only a few men to receive the honor we now bestow upon you.’

He then presented to me a framed scroll, bearing the following citation:

‘In recognition of his consistent and meritorious service and for his many contributions to the development of air transportation as a public service and as a basic element of Air Power, American Airlines, Inc. hereby commissions DAVID O. MCKAY, an Admiral of the Flagship Fleet.

In testimony whereof, witness my signature, this 6th day of November 1959

/s/ C.R. Smith

Fleet Admiral”

Thursday, September 8, 1960

Merry-Go-Round by Drew Pearson


Editor’s Note:  While Drew Pearson is on a short vacation, his associate, Jack Anderson awards the brass ring, good for one free ride on ‘The Washington Merry-Go-Round’ to David O. McKay, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who is 87 years old today.

By Jack Anderson

Washington – Late one evening, a black Cadillac swept over the open highway that biosects the desert west of Salt Lake City.  The distinguished, white-haired passenger stole a cautious glance at his wife to make sure she was asleep, then whispered impishly to the chauffeur:  ‘Now let’s see what this car will do.’

David Oman McKay, the ninth Mormon Prophet, takes an honest delight in the rising hum of a fine engine and the song of tires on the road.  The fact that his chauffeur was at the wheel was a concession to an anxious family and friends who, knowing his taste for speed, had persuaded him to use a driver on overnight trips.

The incident serves to introduce one of America’s most remarkable churchmen.  David O. McKay has been traveling far and fast most of his 87 years.  On his birthday today he has scarcely slowed down.

‘My boy,’ he told his son Llewelyn who urged him to take his work more easily, when you stop, you’re dead.’

Formally speaking, McKay is President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But to more than a million Mormons around the world, he is as much a prophet as Moses or Abraham.  Like the prophets of old, he is also temporal as well as spiritual leader of his people.

He is credited with healing powers and the gift of revelation.  But he is also occupied with such mundane matters as running several Church-owned corporations, including banks, insurance companies, a department store, hotel, and sugar refinery.  In the same day, he will move from spiritual meetings with Church leaders to business meetings with corporation directors.

Just as the Mormon pioneers made the desert bloom, so today under President McKay’s leadership, the Mormons are facing the problems of the space age.

His own life bridges both ages.  His Scottish father and Welsh mother crossed the plains by covered wagon only a few years after Salt Lake City was founded.  They settled in the snow-tipped Wasatch Mountains in a fertile little valley northeast of Ogden, Utah.  When his father returned to Scotland as a missionary, 7-year-old David McKay helped his mother tend the farm.  He still tills the same soil.

He also keeps the same hours.  Up at 4 a.m., he jots down what he must do for the day, eats a light breakfast, then spends the crisp early morning in meditation.  To him, a 6:30 appointment means 6:30 a.m.  He never arrives at the office later than 7 a.m.

Looking every inch the Prophet his people believe him to be, he is strikingly handsome and has a courtly air.  His expressive face, livened by sparkling, deep-set eyes, is soft and kindly.  And his homburg cannot contain his flowing white hair.  He is more vigorous than most men half his age, shakes hands with the clutch of a dairy farmer.

In his dealings with others, the Mormon leader never allows himself to show irritation or temper.  His devoted and efficient secretary of 25 years, Clare Middlemiss, describes him as stong-willed.

‘Once his mind is set, he is hard to dissuade,’ she confesses, but adds:  ‘I have never seen him display anger even under pressure.’

When she gets ruffled he assuages her with homespun philosophy picked up on the farm or with a quotation from scripture or poetry.  Once when she was fretting over a flock of problems he advised with twinkling eyes: ‘A certain number of fleas are good for a dog.’

If his power of speech and implicity of thought have made him one of the Mormons’ greatest preachers his canny Scottish blood has made him a top-flight businessman.  He insists that the Church get full value for every cent it spends.

For the Mormon Temple at Bern, Switzerland, the architects came up with plans for a building that would cost $650,000.  President McKay looked them over carefully then announced: ‘I want you to design a building just as beautiful and just as commodious for $350,000.’

With some muttering, the architects went back to their drawing boards, sharpened their pencils, and found they could carry out his order.

Although President McKay’s family and assistants try to shield him, his door is open to any Mormon no matter how humble.

Once as he was about to turn in for the night, a weeping woman appeared at his door.  He listened sympathetically as she sobbed out a story of marital trouble.  Then he phoned her husband.

‘This is President McKay,’ he said.  ‘Could you drop by my house?’  The awestruck husband hurried over to the Prophet’s house where President McKay stayed up past midnight resolving their quarrel.

Another time, while touring England on a busy schedule, he overheard his son Llewelyn turn away a small girl in a blue dress who wanted the Prophet’s autograph.  President McKay beckoned his son to his side.

‘My boy,’ he said, ‘never hurt a child.  Don’t underestimate their feelings.’

He turned to sign the autograph, but the disappointed girl had vanished.  Two dozen missionaries were sent to comb the crowd for a girl in a blue dress.  But she couldn’t be found.

Next day, the child was still uppermost in President McKay’s mind.  He asked the head of the British Mission to find her and send her autograph book to him.  He was not at ease until the autograph was signed several days later.

For 59 years, David O. McKay has been sustained by his wife, Emma Ray McKay, whom he met while boarding at her home during university days.  She cooks all his meals (he dislikes to eat out) with one exception:  The yogurt he prepares himself before going to bed.  He has never persuaded the family to share his enthusiasm for what he calls ‘clabber milk.’

She is always present when he preaches from the Great Tabernacle pulpit, and travels with him whenever possible.  She says of him:  ‘He is as courteous to me now as he was when we were courting.’

He always rises when she enters the room, opens the door for her and treats her with old-fashioned gallantry.  A lover of poetry, he has never failed to write his wife a verse on her birthday and at Christmas.

David O. McKay has led his fellow Mormons for nine fruitful years.  Their prayer is that he should sit in his booklined office behind the old roll-top desk that once belonged to Brigham Young for seven times that number.”

Deseret News – Thursday, September 8, 1960

Thurs., 5 Jan. 1961:

“Thursday, January 5, 1961

TO: Clare Middlemiss

FROM: Ted Cannon

RE: Interview of President McKay by John Cook, Thursday, January 5, 1961

Mr. Cook, reporter and feature writer for the Sacramento Union, a daily newspaper, visited President McKay in my company on above date in the course of a four-day visit here during which he is collecting material for a series of articles his paper plans to publish soon about the Church.  He is a convert, having married an L.D.S. girl, and they have a daughter attending B.Y.U.  However, he does not consider himself a very good Church member, although he appears to observe Church standards in most respects.

He asked President McKay what he thought was the greatest threat to the Church today, and President McKay immediately replied:  ‘Communism!’ with its godless ideology, its complete subjugation of the individual to the state and its complete materialism.  He said the entire concept and philosophy of Communism is diametrically opposed to everything the Church stands for and believes in — the Deity, the dignity and eternal nature of man, etc.

Mr. Cook said he realized that, but that his question was directed more toward what might be considered the greatest danger to the Church from within itself — in other words, was there a growing tendency to place more importance on material well-being, financial success and status than on spirituality.  President McKay replied that he did not think so.  ‘In fact,’ he said, ‘I doubt that there has ever been a time when the membership of the Church have had greater spirituality — more willingness to give and to serve…Service to others which in the end is the whole spirit of the Gospel.’  He cited the self-sacrifice of people in all stations of life, and mentioned particularly the young people — their willingness and desire to go on missions, and the record of high contributions expected of them.  He cited one man who, in addition to paying his regular tithes and offerings, had turned over a million dollars to the Church, the revenue from which amounted to some seventy or eighty thousand dollars a year.  He pointed out too, that the Church’s business interests are maintained for only one purpose, to help finance the Church’s work of service among all mankind — missions, schools, etc.

Mr. Cook then said he was hesitant about asking his next question, and that he hoped President McKay would understand the spirit in which he was asking — not for a part of his story, but strictly from a personal inquiry standpoint, and that he hoped the President would not answer if he did not feel it was a proper question.  He then asked President McKay if he had ever seen the Savior.

President McKay answered that he had not, but that he had heard His voice — many times — and that he had felt His presence and His influence.  He then told about Peter (saying that he was his favorite among the apostles, even more so than Paul with all his education and learning — that Peter was a rough, simple man, but sincere) and he told how Peter had spoken of being partakers of the divine spirit — of the divine nature, and explained what he felt that to mean.

Then he told how some evidences were stronger even than that of sight, and recalled the occasion when the Savior appeared to His disciples and told Thomas, who had doubted, ‘Reach hither they finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing.’  And he said he liked to believe that Thomas did not actually look up, but knelt at the Savior’s feet and gave his answer, ‘My Lord and my God.’  And then the President repeated the words of the Master,’ Because thou hast seen me, thou has believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’

President McKay then smiled, and said, ‘That is quite a testimony I have given you…I don’t know when I have given this before…’

Mr. Cook was visibly moved, and after leaving the office he said it had been the greatest experience of his life…that President McKay was like no other man he had ever seen or heard.  He was so greatly moved that tears were in his eyes as he left President McKay.

Ted L. Cannon

Jan. 7, 1961″

Thurs., 17 May 1962:

“Note by c.m.

President McKay made the following statement to me this morning – he said that men must learn that in presiding over the Church ‘we are dealing with human hearts, that individual rights are sacred, and the human soul is tender.  We cannot run the Church as we would a business.’

Wed., 5 Sep., 1962:

Changes in Tabernacle Ceiling for Colored Television

Brown: Do you think it will be wise to present to them (the Brethren) the matter of making any changes in the Tabernacle. Should not we take that to the Twelve for their opinions?

Moyle: The trouble in taking it to the Twelve, we only get the opinion of one or two of them.

McKay: We can do that, and let each one state his opinion.

Moyle: That’s right.

McKay: It Applied when I was in the Twelve. They gave every- body an opportunity to speak. This is what should be done.

Brown: If we make radical changes in the Tabernacle there will be much opposition, and I would like them to share the responsibility.

McKay: We want each one to express himself. I remember a policy followed out with President Joseph F. Smith, and I had started to express my opinion. One matter came relating to politics when Reed Smoot was running, and President Smith, contrary to his usual policy, did not ask for the opinions. I had mine ready. I knew I was in harmony with the President of my Quorum. When the matter came before us, President Smith arose and didn’t ask any opinion of the Twelve. He said, “Brethren, we have a very important question before us — whether a member of our Council should run for the Senate. I want to tell you that it is the will of the Lord that he does. ” Brother Lyman, who was opposed to it, said, “I move that be the sentiment of the Council. “

Moyle: Sure, that’s got to be the case.

Brown: When the President makes such a statement, that is it.

Moyle: Even then, some people would say under the circumstances, the Lord was wrong .

McKay: Some of them did say that.

David O. McKay Diaries

Fri., 19 Apr. 1963:

Note by CM

In giving his report at the Council Meeting on Thursday, April 25, President Moyle said, referring to Mr. Kaiser’s visit with President McKay, that when Mr. Kaiser was visiting with Mr. and Mrs. Leland Flint, Mr. Kaiser said, ‘You know, I don’t like President McKay.’  Sister Flint spoke up and said, ‘That’s strange, why not?’  Mr. Kaiser answered, ‘He is smarter than I am.  He is much keener, and much smarter than I am.’  President Moyle said that Mr. Kaiser was tremendously complimentary to the President.  (see following letter from Mr. Kaiser regarding his visit with President McKay.  Also see newspaper clipping following.) 

Sun., 8 Sept. 1963:

“Remarks made at the Testimonial Dinner Party given in honor of President McKay’s Ninetieth Birthday, by the General Authorities of the Church and their wives, held in the Empire Room of the Hotel Utah, Thursday, September 5, 1963, at 6:30 p.m.

Elder Harold B. Lee:

It now becomes my anxious and yet my assigned responsibility to make a few comments representing all of you, which I realize is no small order.

As I thought of this, there were two statements, one by President Brigham Young, and the other by the Prophet Joseph Smith, that seem so apt, and so appropriate for the subject of our being here tonight — our beloved President.

President Brigham Young said:

‘Yet if we live our holy religion and let the Spirit reign, it will

never become dull or seem stupid.  But as the body approaches

dissolution and the spirit takes a firmer hold on that enduring

substances behind the veil, drawing from the depths of that eternal 

fountain of life sparkling gems of intelligence which surround the

sinking tabernacle with a halo of immortal wisdom.’

And the Prophet said:

‘We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of

instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged into the pro-

portion to the heed and diligence given to the Light communicated

from heaven to the intellect, and that the nearer man approaches

perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments,

till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin, and, 

like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in

the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him.

But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a

moment.  He must have been instructed in the government and laws of

that Kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure

of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency are the

same, but is is necessary for men to receive an understanding concerning

the laws of the heavenly Kingdom before they are permitted to enter into

it — meaning the Celestial Glory.   The conditions of God’s Kingdom are such

that all who are named partakers of that Glory are under the necessity of 

learning something respecting it previous to their entering into it.’

I suppose I need not elaborate on why those sentiments seem to be so apt and so appropriate tonight.

The difficulty of this expression that I say, I make supposedly to try to represent all of you, your hosts and guests to honor President and Sister McKay on his Ninetieth Birthday Anniversary.  To speak words of cheap flattery would be an insult almost, and I am sure highly distasteful to honor President McKay’s stature.  He is one who needs no press agent or publicity organization to parade his virtues.  At the same time I have a very real anxiety on the other side.

Heightened by an experience I had down in South Carolina, President McKay, a few years ago, when after a morning session several came up on the stand to shake hands with those who were on the stand, and as a young woman about twenty years of age turned to shake hands with me, she looked at me and said, ‘Oh yes, yes, I remember you.  You’re the man who got in my way twice when I tried to shake hands with the Prophet of God, President McKay.’

Well, I do not want to be remembered for that kind of performance.  It would be a tragic thing I thought tonight if I should by thoughtless conduct or unwise expressions demean to the slightest degree of the high station to which, by the Lord’s appointment, he has been called.  With only a faint hope, therefore, of steering somewhere between these two horns of the dilemma, I want to make just a few observations that might help the President and his family to glimpse, to use a well-used word by President McKay, the exalted place he has in the affections of those of us who intimately associate with him.

I remember some few years ago when Sister McKay had an operation and when she was convalescing at the LDS Hospital, I dropped in to see her in the late afternoon or evening, and she said to me, ‘You know, David was just here.  All my life I have tried to be just where he needed me most, and you know, I believe he misses me now.’  What an understatement.  The oneness that he has always demonstrated with Sister McKay.

We had a visit with Mr. Richard English, who was a feature writer for Collier’s Magazine back in the Centennial Year, who came here to get a story for his paper by assignment.  President McKay gave him an hour or two trying to steer hopefully his story into better channels than it otherwise would be, and then he asked two questions about the Welfare Square.  On the way down, Mr. English said, ‘You know, I have had a great experience this morning.  All of my life I have, by assignment, travelled up and down the earth on assignment to visit with and to write stories about personalities.  I guess I have visited with most of the great personalities in the world.  But I have never met a man like your President David O. McKay.  As I sat across the table from him in his office today, and he looked at me with those great eyes of his, he actually made me feel like I wanted to be a better man.  I actually felt like I wanted to stop smoking, just being in his presence.’

Such is the goodness that our great President imparts to all of us.   None of us have ever been in his presence except he has imparted that feeling of goodness which is felt by many of those outside of us.

Here is a man who has the quality of lifting his soul so high that he seems to have avoided the ugliness and the obscene that is in the world.  I think the Brethren will never forget as we talked around the dinner following the 24th of July Parade one year, and some of the Brethren decried and deplored the semi-nudity of the girls who were on the floats – bathing suits and something more or less.  After they got through expressing their disgust with this, the President said, ‘Well, Brethren, I saw the parade, but I did not see what you described.  All I saw was the beautiful — I thought it was wonderful.’

He hadn’t seen what had appeared ugly to others.  He had only seen the beautiful.  ‘Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.’

And I don’t know what that makes some of the rest of us who see some of the other things.

I remember after the last Presidential election, someone said to the President following the election when Mr. Kennedy had been elected President:  ‘President, doesn’t it worry you that a Catholic has been elected President of the United States?’  And the President said, ‘All I could think of was, isn’t it wonderful that we have the freedom in this great Country to go to the poles and vote for either a Quaker or a Catholic, as we please.’  He lifted himself far above partisan consideration of individuals.

To catch a glimpse again of something that we, who sit with him, in the intimate counsels of the Church, I think I can lift from something he said to the Twelve and First Presidency.  It was just after it had been decided to build some Temples in Europe, and the President was leaving to select the sites for the Temple in Switzerland and the one in England.  After the discussion had concluded, the President said with great emotion: ‘Brethren, this is a tremendously important assignment.  Pray for me, and I will try to so live that the Lord can answer your prayers through me.’

I want you to catch that.  Maybe that is a lesson for all of us.  No matter how many prayers, except we live to be worthy to receive, we shall not be the recipients thereof.

I remember when one of the Brethren over the years was selected to fill a vacancy in the Counsels of the Church, there had been named a man that apparently few of us had suggested when the President had asked for suggestions for men to be considered.  I think he was merely thinking out loud when he turned to those of us on the upper stand, and he said, ‘You know, whenever I prayed about filling this vacancy, or I sat down to think about it, his was the only name that ever came to my mind.’  That is the inspiration of Almighty God.

Someone said, ‘Humility is a rare virtue.  When men become humble most men soon become proud they are humble.’   I recall one of the Conferences when he gave the Opening Address of the Conference, and it was a magnificent address.  When we told him how we had been thrilled by it, he said, with a touch of humility that touched my soul, ‘Then you Brethren were not ashamed of me?’  To have stood, to have sat by, to have been a part of what came forth from his inspired utterances, and then to have him say, ‘Then you were not ashamed of your President.’

Then it was recorded over in Glasgow, Scotland by a young man — I heard a young missionary tell this, and I have heard others tell a little different version, but this is substantially it.  He walked up to the President and said, ‘Are you a Prophet of God?’  And the President is reported to have said, ‘Young man, you look into my face and find your own answer.’  This young missionary who told the story said, ‘I looked into President McKay’s face, and I received my answer.’

As I have thought of his years and the vigor and the enthusiasm — he says from his knees up he is all right, excepting for the slowness of locomotion — I have thought of what the scriptures have said about Moses, who was one-hundred-twenty years old when he died.  It says:  ‘His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.’  It could well be written of President McKay.

Two of his favorite scriptures, I think, are two that he repeats often.  It seems to me they have become so much engrained in him that I thought we should say them tonight.  John wrote:  ‘Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.’  (I John 3:13.)  He has life, because he loves the people in the world.

I remember hearing him say sometime ago that someone had thought that he ought not to be bothered with certain meticulous details because of his age and because he was not too well, and I heard the President say patiently, ‘As long as David O. McKay lives, I believe that the Lord expects David O. McKay to fill his calling as the President of this Church.’

If I were an artist, and I had been retained to paint a picture of a Prophet of God, I could choose no more perfectly-suited representative to stand for the Prophet, past and present, than our own beloved President David O. McKay.

President McKay, your fellow workers here — the General Authorities and their companions — in trying to find something that they thought would express their love and affection for you, and something that you and Sister McKay might treasure, have a little gift we should like to present to you.  It is here — it is rather cumbersome.  Would you like somebody to open it, and we shall show you what it is?

President McKay:  Please.

Elder Lee: Emma Rae, and Doris, and Brother Sill.  Will you come forward and open the package, and we will present it now to the President.  Sterling, you do the heavies and let them do the refining things.

President McKay, a beautiful sterling silver tray, on which is a replica of the Salt Lake Temple, inscribed or engraved, recognizing that in your administration there have been and will be completed more Temples than in the administration of any President of our dispensation, and underneath are the words, ‘Presented to President and Mrs. David O. McKay on his Ninetieth Birthday, as a token of love and esteem from his associates of the General Authorities, September 8, 1963.’

Time did not permit us to do it, but the engravers will take this back after tonight and all around on the plate will be inscribed a facsimile signature of all of the General Authorities.  He has them in his possession, and as soon as he can get to it, within the next day or two, around this will be the names of all of them engraved on the plate.

President McKay, it is my honor to represent your associates.  To you and Sister McKay, may it be a token of our love and our affection, and be something that will call you back to the happy days we have spent under your direction.

President McKay:  It is accepted with gratitude.

Elder Lee:  Stand over here, President, because they want to get a tape of what you are going to say.

President McKay:  As beautiful as it is, we would not need such a physical reminder of the love and devotion that this Testimonial proves.  That is engraved in our hearts forever, but we thank you.  I say that feeling of gratitude will always be what we have in our hearts for this gracious presentation of your loyalty and devotion to the Truth which this gathering represents — the personal representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth.

The Lord said, ‘This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’  That means that His children have the responsibility of bringing glory to Him.  Upon this body here tonight the Priesthood especially, and their wives who sustain them, uphold them, and inspire them, have the responsibility of bringing men, children of our Father in all the earth, to realize that we, through their lives and activity and accomplishment, must bring glory to their Father.  That is what I think of this group tonight.  And for you to express your love and devotion to me and Sister McKay is overwhelming.  All we can say is ‘Thank you and God bless you.’

But I think I had better be through with my part of tonight now.  You remember a few months ago, going down to Manti, and attending the special meeting in the Temple — you sisters were not invited, there was not much work to be done, so we did it without you — but the General Authorities arrived at the Temple and were met by some of the members of the Temple.  Among them stood a gentleman quite straight, and seemed young and vigorous.  We shook hands with him, and to our astonishment we learned his age was 102 years old.  I shook his hand again and I said, ‘I’m going to raise my sights.’   So I wrote down a few words with that incident in mind, and I think I shall give them as expressive of this presentation.

You say that I’m Ninety!  There must be a mistake;

For throughout my body there’s no pain nor ache.

It’s true I respond less keenly to sound,

And forget where I put things as I strew them around.

But it’s no time at all since ‘Tommy’ and I

Took ‘Nettie Bell’ and ‘Annie’ our fortunes to try

At the ‘U’.  When seeking apartments where we could stay

I met for the first time a maiden called ‘Ray’.

You say that I’m Ninety! — why she’s still by my side;

As precious and sweet as when, as my bride,

In the Springtime of life, with hearts all aglow

We faced life together Come Weal or Come woe.

Family cares came heavy, but not a complaint;

Forty-four children now crown her as saint.

Companion, counselor, advisor, always,

My wife for Eternity, My own Emma Ray.

You insist that I’m Ninety!  My limbs say you’re right,

As I hobble along — a pitiable sight!

But I shall always feel young with the Gospel that’s true,

With Loved Ones around me and Friends like you.

Elder Lee:  We, I am sure, realize that despite the youthfulness of President and Sister McKay, we must be realistic and know that evenings can tire if we prolong them too long.  We shall now conclude by the singing of some of President McKay’s favorites by a mixed quartet:  by Sister Lila Kitchen, winner of the San Francisco Opera Regional Admition of 1962, she is the mother of three; Joanne McCray, who sang the leading role in last year’s University Theatre Production of ‘Peter Pan’; Val Stewart, soloist for the University organization in all the Western States, he has sung such leading roles at the Weber, Utah State, University of Utah Opera Workshops; and George Whitaker, who has been the leading bass soloist for the University Theatre in summer festivals.  Ardene Watts has worked with them, but he is out on a conference assignment, and, therefore, could not be here with them.  They will now sing some of the favorite hymns that the family tell us are President McKay’s and Sister McKay’s favorites; following which our own Spencer Kimball, the Chairman of our Social Committee, who gets us into these heavy assignments, will offer the Benediction, and we will stand adjourned and will bid ‘good night’ to President and Sister McKay and their family, and his friends, and the guest or the wives of our Brethren who are here with us tonight.  Thank you for being with us.  May the Lord bless and be with you always is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”  

Tues., 7 Jan. 1964:

“3:00 p.m.

Tithing Settlement

This afternoon, our Bishop, Brother Ezra Payne, called at my request so that I could settle my tithing for 1963 with him.  He brought Sister Payne with him, and they stayed to visit with us for a while. 

Thurs., 26 Mar. 1964:

“10:00 a.m.

Meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.

Blessing Given

I spoke briefly to the Brethren assembled in meeting, and then told them that I should like them to give me a blessing for my health.  The brethren then surrounded me and placed their hands upon my head, and President Hugh B. Brown was voice in giving me a blessing as follows:

‘Our Father who art in heaven, in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, and in the authority of the Holy Priesthood that we bear, we humbly place our hands upon the head of our Prophet, our President, even David O. McKay, to give him a blessing; and we pray Thee, Heavenly Father, that Thy Spirit may inspire what is said, that what we may say may be Thy word and Thy will unto him, that we may be directed by the Holy Spirit to bring to him our love, our blessing, our desire to help; and grant, Heavenly Father, that Thy Spirit may rest mightily upon him.

‘Now, President McKay, we, your brethren of the Twelve and of the Presidency, lay our hands upon your head, and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood that we bear, we give you a blessing for your health, for your restoration.  We bless you that there may flow into your system through the power of the Holy Spirit strength, vitality and life to strengthen your leg, your arm, your voice, and inasmuch as you are approaching and we are approaching a great Conference, that the Spirit of the Lord may rest mightily upon you.

We bless you, dear President, that you may feel the influence of the Holy Spirit and be inspired thereby in every decision you make, and we, your brethren, assure you of our united faith and of our confidence and of our desire to assist and to bless and to help.  We bless you that you may, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, be made equal to every occasion that may arise in the coming weeks and in the coming months.

We bless you that your life may be spared, according to the will of our Father in Heaven, so that you may continue the great leadership that you have provided for us these many years.

Heavenly Father, again we appeal to Thee on behalf of President McKay, who, because of age and the vicissitudes of life, feels somewhat weaker than he was.  O Lord, bless and strengthen him, we humbly pray, and grant that he may know of our love and our affection and our consideration and kindness, and may the Holy Spirit rest upon him and lift him up

and bless him in his mind as well as his body, that he may have the spirit of gladness, of rejoicing, for we confess before Thee, Heavenly Father, that he has given to us a great leadership these many years; and we thank Thee for the great work he has done in the mission field, having traveled more perhaps than any other man in that great cause.

We thank Thee for his life, for his service.  We do not feel that it is drawing to an end.  We pray that Thy Spirit may so integrate and revitalize him as to enable him to carry on effectively so long as it is in Thy wisdom the thing to do.

Now, dear President, we leave this blessing upon you, and with the blessing we assure you of our love and our confidence, and humbly pray that God will bless you as we appeal to Him in your behalf, that His Holy Spirit may give you strength, and that we may each of us do that which you ask us to do, and be inspired in so doing.

To this end now we bless you and seal these blessings upon you by virtue of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.’

After the blessing, I excused myself from the meeting, and returned to the apartment, where I tried to get a little rest.

Note by CM

It was reported to President McKay’s secretary later, that President McKay was very moved and touched by the blessing that was given to him, and that tears flowed down his cheeks.

Thurs., 4 June 1964:

10:00 to 1:30 p.m.

Was convened in the regular meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.

Expression of Love to the Brethren

Just before the prayer at the altar, I said to the Brethren, ‘As you gather around the altar, I want to say that this association with you becomes dearer every day.  I love you Brethren with all my heart, and join in the prayer with you this morning.’

Brother Harold B. Lee then gave an excellent talk on the Sacrament.

Following the administration of the Sacrament, administered by President Joseph Fielding Smith, President Hugh B. Brown made the following remarks:

‘President McKay, I have asked the privilege of saying just a word this morning.  I have felt deeply impressed by the prayers and what has taken place, and especially by Brother Lee’s talk on covenants, commitments and witnesses, and I feel that I should like to say (and in saying it I believe I am speaking for everyone here) that you have our love, our confidence, our blessing, and that we look upon you as the rightful holder of the office to which you have been ordained, and believe that no man who has held that office has been held in higher esteem by all of the people of the Church than you; and of course that means a great many more people than at any time before in the history of the Church.  The Prophet Joseph Smith was almost worshipped by say twenty-thousand people.  Brigham Young was thought a great deal of by a larger number, but now two million people every day and many times a day mention your name in prayer, in gratitude, in petition for your restoration, and we, your Brethren of the Twelve and the Presidency, want you to know how we feel.

‘We ask God to bless you and to buoy you up.  We know of your struggle.  We know something of the difficulties with which you are struggling.  We admire your courage, your stamina, and your faith, and I thought it would be fitting this morning, inasmuch as you expressed your love for us, that we express to you our love for you.  Our prayers are for you always.  We stand ready to go wherever you want us to go, to do anything you want us to do, and we want to sustain and support you in every way.  We humbly pray that God will bless you and your companion.  We need you.  We feel lost when you are not here.  Your wise counsel and advice are of inestimable value to us, and sometimes when it has been necessary, some of us have been present, when it has been necessary for you to rebuke, chastize, correct, but you have always shown afterwards an increase of love, as the Lord commended.

‘As so this morning, President McKay, with one voice we say, God bless you.  We love you, and we want you to stay with us as long as the Lord can permit it.  I wanted to say this word of commendation and appreciation, and humbly say it in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.’

I responded by saying:  ‘I had in mind expressing my love for you this morning before this sacred ceremony.  My heart was too full to express myself adequately.  Thank you, and God bless you.’

We then sang ‘God Moves in a Mysterious Way His Wonders to Perform’.  The regular order of business and reports were thereafter given.'”

Mon., 8 June 1964:

“2:30 p.m.

On May 15, 1964, I received a letter from Dr. A. Ray Olpin, President of the University of Utah, stating that this year, his last in office, he wanted to do something special and had arranged for a formal portrait of me to be hung in the Pioneer Memorial Theatre, and that he would like Sister McKay and me to be present at the unveiling ceremonies to be held on June 8, 1964.

Accordingly, at 2:30 o’clock this afternoon, Sister McKay and I accepted that invitation and were present at these ceremonies, which were attended by the Board of Regents of the University of Utah, honorary degree winners of this and past years, and a number of Church and civic leaders.

Dr. Olpin was the speaker in presenting the portrait, and called upon me to say a few words.

I told them that I felt like the widow who listened to the glowing tributes paid her departed husband at funeral services, and when she could stand it no longer, told her son to go over and peek in the coffin to see if it was really her husband whom the preacher was talking about.

I then said that I owed the University of Utah a great deal; that it will be seventy years since my brother Tommy and sisters Jeanette and Annie rolled over the sand ridge from Huntsville with horse and wagon, a cow in the trailer, with a sack of flour milled from wheat we had grown, with jars of fruit which Mother had put up, going down to start our schooling at the University.  We got as far as Farmington, and had a chance to sell the cow, so we did this and took another one later.  We were assured of bread, milk, and fruit.  We rented a house, and thus began our first year.  The second year, we rented a house from Mrs. O. H. Riggs, and became acquainted with her daughter, Emma Ray Riggs.  I told them that I said at that time, ‘there’s the kind of woman I want for my wife; that we were later married, and that she is just as sweet now as she was then.’

I paid tribute to Dr. C. Lowell Lees, head of the department of the University theatre, and said, ‘He is one of the great dramatists of the United States.’

Sister McKay and I were pleased with the portrait which was painted by Alvin L. Gittins of the University’s Art Department, and were grateful for the honor that had been bestowed upon us.  (See copy of letter from Dr. Olpin, and also newspaper clippings following.)

Note by CM

Dr. A. Ray Olpin, in giving his talk and in presenting the portrait painting of President McKay, told of the difficulties encountered in getting the State Legislature to approve of the appropriation for the Pioneer Memorial Theatre.  He said it looked as though their dream might not materialize.  They decided to have a meeting of all the Senators and Legislators, the civic officials, and others.  It was scheduled for the Governor’s board Room.  He said they were down there that morning to hear from President McKay.  Dr. Olpin then said, ‘I will never forget as long as I live the change that came over the faces of a room filled to standing room only capacity of people — prominent people.  As they arose, President McKay came in, and with that wonderful smile on his face, he walked over and stood before them and said, ‘Gentlemen, I came to confess my sins.’  That was all it took.  Before we left there, everything had been pledged that the money would be appropriated as soon as the Legislature adjourned, and I think the first item of business when the Legislature convened was to appropriate that half million dollars so the Board of Examiners would not be found violating the law or the Constitution.  It was for one thing after another of that kind that this man gave his support to us.’

‘Now we have decided that in the light of what I have just reported, it would be very fitting to have President McKay’s portrait.  We have no portrait of President McKay on the campus.  He is one of our staunchest supporters.  His children, and now his grandchildren, are attending the University.  We would like to have it prominently displayed over the central panel.’

As Dr. Olpin concluded his remarks, he asked Sister McKay to unveil the portrait.  Following this, he called on President McKay to say a few words.  (See following transcript of remarks made by Dr. Olpin and President McKay– also copy of portrait painting.)”

Sat., 29 Aug. 1964:

“In LDS Hospital

Notes by Clare Middlemiss, Secretary

At 9:00 a.m., Lawrence McKay called.  He said that his father would like me to come up to the hospital at 10:30 this morning.  I said, ‘What shall I take up with him?’, and Lawrence said, ‘This would be a good time to tell him about the music for Conference.’  He said, ‘Don’t stay longer than half an hour’, and I answered that I probably wouldn’t stay that long.

Desire for Special Prayers of the Brethren

After talking about this matter, President McKay said, ‘Now this is very important:  I feel the need of the united prayers and faith of the Brethren.  I should like to ask my counselors and the Twelve to have a special meeting next Monday morning.  I was going to have this blessing following one of my sacred visits to the Holy of Holies in the Temple, but I cannot leave this hospital room.  It is going to be a problem to arrange this so that the greatest good can come out of the blessing.  Personalities are involved here.  I think I shall ask President Brown to represent the First Presidency in anointing me, and then have Brother Joseph Fielding Smith seal the anointing as President of the Council of the Twelve.  Members of the First Presidency and Brother Joseph can come here to my room in the hospital and the Twelve, the Assistants to the Twelve, the Seventies, and the Presiding Bishopric can hold a special prayer meeting in the First Presidency’s room at the same hour that the Presidency are giving the blessing.  Brother Harold B. Lee will preside at that meeting — that will be Monday at 11:30 a.m.

I reminded President McKay that many of the Brethren will be out of town on Monday, and asked him if Tuesday or Thursday would be better, and he said, ‘No, I do not want to wait that long.’

He then said, ‘You handle all the details of this — it is very important!’

I said, ‘President McKay, I shall go right home and start calling the Brethren.’

President McKay said, ‘I want the members of the family to join in this.  I shall ask Lawrence to get in touch with them, and let them know about the special meeting.’

President McKay seemed worried and very anxious about this matter, and he said, ‘Things are not just right.’

. . . .

At this same time, President McKay asked me to go ahead with the regular preparations for Conference.

President McKay then asked me how things are going at the office and wanted to know if the counselors are reporting to me.  I said that President Tanner had come in last Wednesday and had told me of his visit with him, but other than that there had been no reports, and President McKay said, ‘I was afraid of that.’

He then said, ‘Matters in the office are in your hands; when they are, I do not worry.’  I thanked him for his confidence and trust, and said that that was all I wanted to know.  He smiled, and said, ‘I have full confidence!’

11:00 a.m.

I could see that President McKay was tired, so I said that I would leave and keep in touch with him. He seemed pleased and relieved.  He looked worried again, and said that there was something else on his mind that he wanted to take up with me, but he could not recall it just then, so I left a note pad and a pencil and told him to have the nurse write it down when he thought of it, and that she could call me.

As soon as I reached my home, I called President Joseph Fielding Smith in order to find out where I could reach the Brethren, only to learn that he as in Lewiston, Idaho attending Conference there.  I then called Elder Harold B. Lee, who was just preparing to leave for a Stake Conference in Ogden.

Brother Lee was very gracious and said that he would check to see where the Brethren are and would call me back.  After a few moments he called to tell me that most of the Brethren were out of the City and State — some were in Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, New Zealand, Mexico City, California.

For the rest of the day and all day Sunday I was on the telephone trying to reach the Brethren, all of whom, with the help of Mrs. Clarissa Sims, Chief Telephone Operator of the Church, I was able to reach.

Never was there such a feeling of love and anxious concern shown by each of these Brethren — their spirituality, love, and desire to fast and pray for their Prophet was a spiritual experience I shall never forget — they were ONE in Thai love and devotion!  They were told that although President McKay is improving, with Conference only a few weeks away, he feels the need for the united prayers of the Brethren; that it is suggested that they come fasting Monday morning and hold a special meeting in the office of the First Presidency, and that at the same hour the First Presidency and Brother Joseph Fielding Smith will be with the President and Brother Joseph Fielding Smith will be with the President in his hospital room and that they will anoint and bless him, and that President Joseph Fielding Smith will seal the anointing.”

Mon., 31 Aug. 1964:

“In LDS Hospital

11:10 a.m.

President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson came in to my hospital room to see me.  I was very glad to see them, and greeted them affectionately.

President Smith remained, awaiting the coming of Presidents Brown and Tanner, and Elder Isaacson left to attend the special fast and prayer meeting to be held in the office of the First Presidency.

11:30 a.m.

Presidents Brown and Tanner arrived.  After a few words of greeting, according to arrangements that had been made for the special fast and prayer meeting of all the General Authorities, Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Joseph Fielding Smith gathered around my bedside, and I asked President Tanner to anoint me, and President Smith to seal the anointing.

At this same hour, the Twelve, the Assistants to the Twelve, members of the First Council of Seventy, and the presiding Bishopric met in the office of the First Presidency, all of whom, I learned later, had come fasting, and held a special prayer meeting.  Elder Harold B. Lee was voice in representing the Brethren in offering a prayer in my behalf.  It was a gathering of the choicest men on earth — all of them loyal, willing, and devoted.

I was very grateful to know that my beloved wife and family were also fasting and praying for me at this same hour.

4:00 p.m.

My secretary, Clare, called at the hospital, and reported about the meeting.  She told me of the love and devotion of the Brethren — of their cooperation and willingness to come from long distances to attend the special prayer meeting in my behalf.

I then told her that my prayers had been answered — nothing spectacular, but were just answered; that Brother Joseph Fielding Smith had never been so inspired; that his blessing was an inspiration.  (See also diary of September 3, 1964)”

Mon., 31 Aug. 1964:

“Report of a meeting held in the office of the First Presidency in the Church Office Building, Monday, August 31, 1964, at 11:30 a.m.  All of the General Authorities were present excepting those in foreign countries and Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, and Joseph Fielding Smith, who at the same hour were administering to President David O. McKay in the LDS Hospital.  The meeting was called at the President’s request, and Elder Lee conducted.

Elder Harold B. Lee introduced the meeting with the following remarks:

‘We have assembled here, as you have already been advised, at the request of President McKay.  No doubt your call here has excited some anxiety and wonder as to the purpose of it, whether it would indicate anything ominous, and lest you have such apprehensions or you be unduly concerned, I thought it might be well if we had someone give you what information we have as to the President’s condition to allay any undue anxiety, and to give you the purpose of our meeting here this morning.  So I have asked Brother Evans to make such a comment, and if he will be kind enough to do so, I would appreciate it.’

Elder Richard L. Evans

‘I assume, Brethren, that we are all equally informed, but in case we are not, it is my understanding that our coming together is at the request and suggestion of the President to Sister Clare Middlemiss, he having called her to visit him sometime on Saturday.  He has made remarkable improvement and is grateful for it, and we are all grateful, and this is a time for expression of thanksgiving for these blessings and for a petition to our Father in Heaven for increased strength and encouragement to him.  Conference is coming.  He needs these blessings and we need him.  I think it is unnecessary to say, but a privilege to say it, that this is our Father’s Church, it is His work, it is His Prophet for whom we are praying, and He who has given us life can lengthen it.  He who has given us our physical facilities can renew them and heal them and strengthen them.

I feel privileged with you to have Brother Lee as voice for all of us, as requested by the President, with the understanding that at this time at the hospital President Brown will anoint the President and President Smith will bless him, with President Tanner there present also.  We will join our faith and prayers with theirs, with an expression of our love and our gratitude for the greatness and the humility and all else that the President represents.

I think no President could have greater closeness or greater loyalty from his associates.’

The Brethren then all knelt in a circle around the table, and Elder Lee was voice in prayer as follows:

‘Our Heavenly and Eternal Father, we kneel down in prayer in a room that is customarily occupied by the First Presidency in their solemn councils, in their sacred deliberations on matters that pertain particularly to the Quorum of the First Presidency.

We are mindful of the instructions of the Scriptures that where our President is not, there is no First Presidency.  We feel certain that he is with us today by Thy permissive power, and we are so grateful that Thou hast given him a reprieve, as it were, from what might have been a fatal illness, and grateful that, despite his advanced years, he returns with amazing strength, vigor and vitality which surprises and baffles those of medical skill who otherwise might be led to accept the inevitable.  We realize that these are evidences of Thy divine power, that Thou hast in Thine hands the life of this Thy servant, as perhaps more certainly and more importantly than any other person who walks the earth.  He has been called to be the President of Thy Church, Thy mouthpiece and Prophet, Seer and Revelator.  Thou hast called him to this mission; the length and time thereof Thou only knowest, and we can only hope that our faith and prayers may appeal unto Thee in his behalf, and to ask again, as we have done in our secret and private prayers for these months, that he be continued with a measure of physical, mental and spiritual strength until Thou seest fit to release him from this high and exalted position here on earth.

We kneel in this room, therefore, with one heart and with one mind.  We who have been privileged to be so intimately associated with this great and noble servant of Thine, have occasion to be grateful for that which he has imparted unto us of his own personality.  It can be well said by all of us who come within the circle of his influence, that never have we been permitted such occasional contact without we have come away feeling better therefor and strengthened and renewed in our determination because of his great faith and his love of life and of his love of Thee and of Thy work.

We pray that Thou wilt help us to rid ourselves of any evidences of disunity or disharmony which might creep in among us.  In times like these when the strains and stresses and pressures which naturally come with a growing Church and with a multitude of problems incident thereto, we realize that there could be those with selfish motives, or with a purpose of their own, who might seek to take advantage of circumstances.  We pray that Thou will banish all such feelings from any one of us, that never by thought or by word or by deed may we give the slightest intimation to our President of anything other than to follow the leadership of him whom Thou has called to preside in our day and time; and that so far as we are concerned, as we think about the Church as the great ‘Ship of Zion’, as someone has called it, that ours is the business to keep our eye upon the ‘Captain of the Ship’, and our ear attuned to the counsels that emanate from Thee to him, and through Thy servant to Thy Church.

We remember that Thou has said that except we are one, our councils would not be acceptable unto Thee.  We realize that there is strength and determination in practically every man who is here, strong-willed men who have been successful in their own affairs and in Church leadership, and there could well be differences of opinion which might come in our counsels together.  Help us, our Father, that when they do come, as come we know they will, that there will be a willingness to talk out in sacred councils, under the guidance of Thy Holy Spirit, such differences and to arrive at such conclusions as will make for unity and harmony and a united support to him who leads us as the President of Thy Church.

We are so grateful that Thou hast reached out to Him on this occasion, and that our beloved President has in the past been given a measure of health and vigor and vitality and clearness of thinking, but we are fully aware that he has heavy responsibilities as long as he lives, Father, and that, in the immediate future, he is facing a great Conference of Thy Church.  He desires so much to live to the full end of his mission and has expressed himself repeatedly that as long as he lives he feels certain that Thou desirest him to be the leader Thou hast called him to be.  So we pray that Thou wilt strengthen him in his physical parts, that he may be borne up as if on the wings of the morning, that Thou wilt, if necessary, remake within him muscles, nerves, sinews, tissues, to whatever extent accords with Thy holy purposes, that Thou wilt leave him not alone for a moment, that Thou wilt have guardian angels who shall hedge around about, the presence of those beyond his sight who love him and perhaps messengers especially appointed to carry instruction from Thy holy dwelling place to instruct his spirit body to take ascendency over his frail, weak physical body in order thereby, having been properly instructed, to regain his normal and natural strength suited to the present need.

Now, Father, we ask for these blessings in all humility.  We bow in submissiveness to Thy will.  We, each of us, have had occasion to know how important we are and how helpless we are when Thy will manifests itself contrary to our pleadings and our desires, and we would only say in all affairs that pertain to our own interests and our own concerns that we accept without question that which ‘Thou seest fit to inflict upon us’, thanking Thee for all that Thou hast given us, and all that we are, for the positions that we hold, and pray that Thou wilt not permit us to have it in our minds to betray that holy trust that Thou hast given us, that we may be careful in our speech, avoid criticisms or bickerings, or those things which might be displeasing to the Spirit and which would deprive us of that which we might otherwise be privileged to enjoy.

And so on this beautiful morning, and in the spirit of fasting, we come on bended knees to Thee again to thank Thee from the bottom of our hearts for our beloved leader and for these blessings which he has already received, and to plead anew for a renewal of his strength and for a lengthening of his years to the full end of his mission.

We pray for his beloved wife and for his family, who likewise at this very hour are having family prayer in the apartment home where he and Sister McKay reside.  Bless them and comfort them.  Fortunately they have been blessed with a remarkable family and we pray that Thou wilt bless his family to uphold his hands and seek to live to the latest generation worthy of the names they have as the children of this illustrious, noble sire and his beloved companion.

For these and all other blessings, Thou knowest we need, praying for our own wives and families, even those whom Thou has taken home to Thyself.  Let them ever be near us.  Let our families walk in fear and admonition of Thee.  May they uphold our hands and give us strength to perform our labors.  For these and all other blessings we pray and ask that Thou wilt pardon and overlook our failings that we may stand clean and pure before Thee, as we seek for these blessings, that we may be so forgiven that our united prayer this morning will ascend unto Thee and claim at Thy holy dwelling place an inclining of thine ear to hear and Thy strength to bless and give power to the leadership of Thy Church.  Thus we pray, and ask it all humbly in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Thurs., 3 Sept. 1964:

“In the LDS Hospital

9:00 a.m.

Presidents Brown and Tanner called on me at the Hospital, Room 702.  I asked them to take my love and greetings to the Brethren at their meeting in the Temple this morning.  I said to express my deep gratitude for the special fast and prayer meeting they held Monday in my behalf when I was administered to and anointed in the Hospital.  I said to tell them that I have never felt closer to the Lord than I did when President Joseph Fielding Smith gave me that inspirational blessing, after the anointing by President Tanner, and that I have felt better ever since then, and am still improving.

I also said that I think there has never been a time when there was greater harmony and love and lack of criticism among the Brethren than at this time.

2:00 p.m.

Sister McKay and Lou Jean visited with me at the hospital.

Note by CM

The following are expressions of appreciation for President McKay by the Brethren in the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve held in the Salt Lake Temple this morning at ten o’clock:

President Hugh B. Brown made the following preliminary remarks to the Brethren:

We saw the President just before coming here.  We saw him yesterday also.  He has two characteristics.  We mentioned them to him this morning:  One is his indomitable courage and determination, and the other is his persistent sense of humor, and he maintains both of them.  He said, for instance this morning, ‘That thing they call a cardiograph does not know what it is talking about.  It says I should stay here longer and I know I should not.’  He said, ‘The trouble is the doctors agree with the machine.’

We have a very pleasant but short visit with him both yesterday and today, and I think Brother Tanner and I both feel there is a very definite improvement.  His voice is better, his color is better, and he is anxious to come back to his home.  He said, ‘I ought to be with you this morning in the Temple and wish I could’, and then he said repeatedly, ‘Carry my love and blessing to the Brethren’, and he said, ‘especially I wish you would thank them for their prayers of faith when I was administered to.’  And I think I am quoting him right, he said, ‘I never have felt closer to the Lord that I felt the other day when President Smith gave me that wonderful blessing, after the anointing by Brother Tanner, and to know all the General Authorities are praying for me.’  His eyes filled with tears as he mentioned that since that time he has been constantly feeling better.

Of course we do not want to overdo our optimism, but we are both convinced that he is improving.  He gets up and sits up a little.  He was very much touched by the experience that we had a few days ago.

We thought perhaps it would be fitting this morning if after the Sacrament we should hear from one or two of the Brethren in expressions of thanksgiving and appreciation for the President and for the Lord’s mercy to all of us.  To that end, we wonder if Brother Marion G. Romney, Howard W. Hunter, and Thomas S. Monson would wish to respond after the Sacrament and say whatever is in their hearts to say.  We shall ask President Tanner to say a few words on the Sacrament prior to administering the Sacrament.

President Nathan Eldon Tanner

Brethren, I always feel so grateful to be able to be with you, to be associated with you and to be in your presence and partake of your spirit.

Before saying a word on the Sacrament, I should like to express my appreciation of these lovely prayers that were offered here this morning.  It seems that everything was covered so beautifully.  There is such a fine spirit among us I feel the Spirit of the Lord this morning.

I would like to say regarding our visit with President McKay, we feel that the Spirit of the Lord was there.  The President said, as President Brown told you, ‘I have never felt the Spirit of the Lord and the closeness of the Lord more than I have in the last few days.’  He said, ‘I think there has never been a time when there was greater harmony and love and lack of criticism among the Brethren than at this time.’  He said, ‘It makes me feel so happy.’  I thought I should express that to you, Brethren.

Now as we partake of the Sacrament, I repeat the blessing on the Sacrament:  ‘O God, the Eternal Father, we ask Thee in the name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of Thy Son, and witness unto Thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of Thy Son, and always remember Him, and keep His commandments which He hath given them, that they may always have His Spirit to be with them, Amen.’

The part I would like to refer to for just a moment this morning is ‘remember Him, and Keep His commandments.’  As I think of the sacrifice He made and His suffering and why He did it, I realize that without it there would be no program, there would be no hope, there would be nothing to work for.  When I think of the sacrifice He did make, and how willingly He made it, and that all He asks us to do is to remember Him and keep His commandments, I would pray that we do what He requires.

I thought this morning when these prayers were being offered where in the world — and there is no use asking the question — where in the world could you feel the spirit and have the understanding and knowledge of His message that we have in this room?  What a great privilege and blessing to be a part of this organization, which is the Church of Jesus Christ, where the full purpose of His mission and His sacrifice is taught and understood and appreciated.

As we go forward in this work, Brethren, I feel that we cannot over-emphasize the importance of complete unity and harmony.  I pray every night and I pray every morning that I can be in harmony with you Brethren and with the President of the Church, and by so doing I know that I will be in harmony with the Spirit of the Lord.

It is difficult to forget ourselves and to forget interests that we might have in certain things, but it is important.  I was so glad to hear the president say this morning that he felt that Spirit stronger than he had ever felt it before, because we can go forward humbly, as we keep the commandments He has given us, recognize the sacrifice He made and the assurance that through Him we will all be resurrected and by keeping His commandments we will go back into His presence.  May we all be found worthy.

I pray always for your support, and am most happy to support you in every way, and pray to be worthy of your confidence and worthy of His blessings.  May we always be worthy of His blessings.  As we go forward among the people may they see our good works, have every confidence in us, and may our testimony be radiated and His Spirit be felt as we go forward in His work, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Sacrament was then administered to, after which remarks were made by the following brethren as indicated:

Elder Thomas S. Monson

I humbly respond to this opportunity.  It was last Saturday when I was in Edmonton that I received a telephone call from my wife indicating that all of the General Authorities had been asked to assemble in that meeting of prayer last Monday in the Church Office Building.  I did not know how I was going to get here because my plane was not scheduled to leave until 11:30 Monday morning.  When I checked with the Trans-Canadian airline office I found that by working my schedule on a split-second basis I could catch a plane that was going to Vancouver and then down to Salt Lake City.  As I went to the airport I remember the man who altered my ticket; he said, ‘You are a very fortunate man today.  We have had such a load we have had to put on this extra plane; otherwise you would not have been able to make this plane.’

Therefore, I had the privilege of meeting with you in that meeting.  I had a feeling of gratitude in my heart to be there, and I do not think I have ever felt the Spirit of the Lord more than when Brother Lee offered that prayer.  I thought the prayer was wonderful.  I love President McKay as does each of you.

Last evening my family and I looked over the current issue of the Improvement Era.  My wife commented how much she appreciated the picture of President McKay on the front cover.  My son, thirteen years of age, mentioned how much he appreciated reading the article and seeing the President in a fishing outfit and in a pair of boots.  I was interested in reading that when President McKay was born in 1873 there were seven stakes of Zion, seven full-time missions, and a Church membership of one-hundred-ten-thousand people.  And now, of course, we have four hundred stakes, well over two million people and seventy-five missions.  What a great period of growth the world has seen since his mother and father first welcomed him into this earthly existence.

My experience in the mission field has taught me that the greatest obstacle the convert must overcome before he is really converted is to accept Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God.  I do not think it is the word of Wisdom as much as people say.  People say that if we relaxed the bars on the Word of Wisdom we would have many more people join the Church.  I do not think that for a minute.  I feel the stumbling block comes to the investigator when he does not accept Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God.  I cannot help but compare this to the fact that when the convert accepts Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God and is baptized and confirmed that the principle of the Gospel which is perhaps dearer to him than any other is the fact that we have a prophet of God today to lead us.

Last Friday in Cranbrook, British Columbia, many asked me, ‘How is President McKay?’ and then added, ‘We send our love to him.’  For my own benefit I asked all those in the conference there who had come into the Church since President McKay was the President to raise their hands.  It seemed as though the entire congregation had their hands raised.  President McKay is revered throughout the world.

The first scripture I heard emphasized in the mission field was Amos 3:7 — ‘Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.’  I am grateful that we have a Prophet at the head of the Church.  I think of the words of Sir Winston Churchill when he said, ‘I have lived perhaps more years and had more experience than most living persons, and nothing troubles me more, nothing causes me greater concern or anxiety than the critical need of the world today, the need of a Prophet.’  We know that we have a Prophet.

I had the opportunity a couple of years ago of acting as chairman of the ‘Back to Church’ campaign of the Salt Lake Exchange Club, and we won an award.  A paid professor of religion from New York City representing Religion in American Life came out to Salt Lake City to give our club the award and I had the opportunity of taking him to the office of President McKay that he might meet the President, and if you have ever seen a spiritual pigmy stand next to a spiritual giant, I saw it that day as this man stood next to the President.

This morning as I performed two marriage ceremonies my thoughts went back to a day in early October last year when I went into President McKay’s office for what purpose I knew not, and he indicated that I had been called to this position.  He asked about my wife, and I was happy to tell President McKay of a little formula that has given my wife and me a lot of happiness.  When we knelt here in the temple and he performed the ceremony, Brother Benjamin Bowring who was a worker here then said, ‘Brother and Sister Monson, I would like to give you a formula which if you will follow you will never have a quarrel which will last more than one day.’  I suppose I looked a little dumbfounded to think of such a thing as having a quarrel.  He said, ‘If you are normal, you will have misunderstandings,’ and he said, ‘If you will kneel each night at the side of your bed, and the first night you offer the prayer aloud on bended knees, and the next night Sister Monson offers a prayer aloud on bended knees, you will never have a quarrel that will last longer than a day.’

I want to say this has been true to my life.  I mentioned this to President McKay that afternoon, and he smiled as only he can smile, and that twinkle came into his eyes, and he put his hand on my knee and said, ‘That formula has worked with you and Sister Monson for fifteen years.  It has worked for Ray and me over sixty-two years.’  I thought to myself, what an example the Lord has given the Church as to how a man should treat his wife, and a woman should treat her husband, that he has in President and Sister McKay.

I express profound gratitude to our Heavenly Father that He has blessed our President.  I am especially grateful for this, and I want you, my brethren, to know I appreciate each one of you.  I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for my testimony and pray only that I may ever be worthy to serve Him, and I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Howard W. Hunter

This has been a sweet hour together as we have partaken of the Sacrament, felt the Spirit, and prayed together for our great leader.

Last Saturday evening the word came to me while I was in the north woods of Minnesota, away up near the Canadian line.  When I learned that President McKay’s secretary was calling my heart sank until I learned the nature of the message, then I was glad that we would be able to have the privilege of being together on Monday morning.  I think I shall always remember that occasion when President Brown, President Tanner and President Smith went to the hospital to administer to President McKay while we knelt in the Presidency’s Council Room, and the impressive prayer which was spoken by Brother Lee as he expressed the feelings of all of us more beautifully than we could have done.  I felt greatly impressed with the unity which exists at the top of the Church of the Presidency, the Council of the Twelve and the other Brethren.

It was not long ago that we had knelt in family prayer in a home during a conference.  Some words had been spoken concerning the Prophet in that prayer in petitioning the Lord to grant to him restoration of his health.  After we stood up one of the little girls, a sweet little thing, came up to me and said, ‘Do you get to see President McKay?’  I said, ‘Yes, I get to see him quite often.’  She said, ‘I wish I could see him sometime.’  I thought this little girl expressed the feeling of people all over the world, and then I realized too when she said that how blessed I was personally to have the opportunity to touch his hand occasionally and sit at his feet on the occasions when we are together.

During the past few weeks prayers have gone up all over the world, from the Saints in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, in Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and across the South Pacific, in South America, Central America, Mexico, the United States and Canada, and across Europe.  There are two million of us in the world, and I do not believe it is possible for another group of that many people to be as united as we who are in the Church.  This stems from the unity that is demonstrated by the Prophet himself with those who associate with him, the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and the General Authorities.

I, too, was interested in this last edition of the Improvement Era, and in some of the statistics.  At the time of the birth of President McKay the membership of the Church was less than the number of converts last year.  This great growth has come during the lifetime of this great man and it is being accelerated.

I am so grateful that the Lord has spared his life and prolonged it, so that he could be the great example and speak the will of the Lord to us.  My life has been touched by my association with him.  I am grateful for his leadership and his inspiration.  There is no question in my mind that he is a Prophet of the Lord.  This I know without a shadow of a doubt, and, of course, I know it in the same way that you know it, through the Spirit which whispers and dictates it to us.  I have had the feeling on so many occasions in his presence that the veil is very, very thin between the Lord and the one through whom He speaks here upon the earth.

I am grateful for this association with you, my brethren, for your faith, for your great leadership, for the great example you have been to me.  My prayer is the same as your prayer, that the Lord will grant to President McKay that which he needs at this particular time, that he may continue to lead his people as long as life is sweet to him and it is the will of the Lord that he so lead His people here upon the earth.

May his blessings be with us all as we continue in our responsibility, I humbly pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Elder Marion G. Romney

I feel honored in being asked to say a few words at this time.  As President Brown was speaking there came to my mind the Savior’s statement that ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation…’ but ‘these things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace.’

I am very grateful that the life of President McKay has been spared and that he is making such a remarkable recovery.  I know that he is a Prophet.  He was an unusual man before he became President.  He had a great effect upon my life the first time I saw him.  That was in Los Angeles in 1912.  I was then just fifteen years of age, a member of a large family of refugees from Mexico.  President McKay, a member of the Twelve, speaking to us in Sunday School, held up a glass of crystal clear water.  Then from his fountain pen he dropped a little ink into the glass.  Instantly the water was clouded.  ‘That,’ said he, ‘is what sin does to a life.’  That lesson inspired me to try to keep sin out of my life.

My next contact with him was in Australia about 1921.  I was there on a mission.  President McKay visited us on his ‘around-the-world’ mission tour.  When he came back from visiting the Jenolan caves, he taught us a great lesson, telling us how those great stalagmites and stalactites in the caves were formed by infinitesimally small deposits from single drops of water.  He compared the process to the building of character.  Every thought we think, every word we speak, and every deed we do registers on our characters.  At the end of life, one’s character is the sum total of these deposits.  I have never heard him talk nor seen him act without learning something which I could apply in my life.

I shall never forget when he called me in and told me that I was to be a member of this Council.  He is a great Prophet, called to do the work that he has done.  I am continually impressed with the power and reality of the spirit under which he lives.

I remember when he set me apart a member of the Twelve.  He said in about these words, ‘You have been here with us a long time and you know how we do things, but from now on you will have the direction of the Spirit to a greater degree than you ever had it before.’  I had been an Assistant to the Twelve for ten and a half years.  I did not know how I could know with more certainty than I knew then that the Gospel is true.  I do not know that I am more certain and sure now, but I do know that his statement was true, because there is constantly with me, as I am sure there is with you, a stronger realization, not that God lives but that He is near and that I can draw on His power.  I feel an absolute certainty of this.  There is hardly a day and certainly not a week goes by that I am not conscious of drawing upon that power.

I had no fear of President McKay’s passing when they notified me in Mexico City that he wanted us to come together in a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings he has received and to petition the Lord for a continuation of them.  I had an absolute conviction and peace in my heart that President McKay would live to lead us just as long as the Lord wants him to do so.  I still feel that assurance, feel the same certainty in my heart that when Brother McKay’s mission is completed, the man on whom the responsibility will fall will be the man the Lord wants and that he will move under the same power.

As I travel in this and other countries and feel the hatred and contention in the world, I am more impressed all the time with the statement of the Savior, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation but in me ye shall have peace.’  I feel at peace.  I am grateful for our leadership, grateful for my confidence in the President, for the confidence I have that the Lord is at the helm, that Brother McKay will not go until the time when the Lord wants him to go, and that this is the Kingdom and that we can accomplish everything we are asked to do.  I have no doubt about this, whether the Lord’s purposes are in harmony with the rulers of the world or not.  There is no power that can stay this work.

I am grateful for my love for you brethren and for the absence of contention in my soul.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to pay this tribute to the President of the Church and to thank the Lord for the blessings he has received.  I feel confident that the Lord will continue to bless him.  I express my love for each of you and my gratitude to the Lord for all things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

President Brown:  ‘President Smith, you have been longer with the President than any of us and served longer with him, I wonder if you would like to add a word.’

President Joseph Fielding Smith

I would be glad to do so.  I sat here in the Council at the beginning of the year 1910.  For a number of years I sat next to President McKay, over where you two brethren are now (pointing to LeGrand Richards and Richard L. Evans).  I used to argue with him once in a while, and he with me — good naturedly.  I have always respected and honored him and have been grateful to labor with him.  I traveled with him in those early days, going to stake conferences.  On occasion we slept in the same bed, which neither of us preferred to do, but that was necessary at times as we went to stake conferences.

I was very pleased when he was called out of the Council into the Council of the Presidency.  I am sure that the inspiration of the Almighty was in it, for he received some training as a counselor in that Presidency before he became our file leaders as President of the Church.  I have always honored and admired and prayed for President McKay.

I was up in northern Idaho (Lewiston) when we got the message that there would be a meeting called for Monday.  I think it was one o’clock on Sunday.  I held the first meeting with the brethren Sunday morning and then started to return home.  I did not remain for the afternoon meeting.  My nephew, my brother David’s son, Elmer, was kind enough to drive Sister Smith and me up and bring us back again.  I arrived in Salt Lake City at two o’clock in the morning Monday.  I had the feeling that I should go to the hospital and see President McKay.  I felt that impression strongly and so I went up and you brethren of the Presidency came.  I was grateful to have the privilege of laying my hands upon his head with you two brethren and giving him a blessing.

I want President McKay to stay here just as long as the Lord wants him to.  We pray for him, and we would like to see him improve in his health and be with us again to give us counsel and direction as he has done through these past years.

Brethren, I feel humble to think that I was honored and privileged to meet with this Council.  I have humbly done what I could.  I have loved and honored President McKay, and I hope the Lord will hear our prayers and if it be His will, that He will permit President McKay to return to us again to give us counsel and occupy that place.

The Lord bless each of us with the spirit of humility and faith.  Let us continue our prayers in President McKay’s behalf, always remembering, of course, that the will of the Lord must be done.  If he wants President McKay to recover and come back and give us counsel, I am sure the Lord will hear our prayers.  Now my prayer is that I hope the Lord will hearken and grant what we have asked for and keep President McKay with us, restore him to the measure of health that he can return and give us counsel just as long as the Lord is willing for him to do so.  The Lord bless us one and all in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Tues., 8 Sept. 1964:

“9:00 a.m.

My counselors, Presidents Brown and Tanner, came over and congratulated me.  In answer to their inquiries regarding my health, I told them that I think the worst is over so far as my illness is concerned; that I am, of course, not so robust as I should like to be, but that I am feeling fine.

President Brown asked me if there is anything I should like the counselors to do, and I replied that the doctors met yesterday, and said that I could hold meetings with them for twenty minutes, but, I added, after the twenty minutes is over with, we can do as we please!  The counselors got a good laugh out of that, and I said to them ‘You go right along with the work, and I shall be with you pretty soon.’

Wednesday, February 17, 1965


Tributes to David O. McKay, President of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mr. Bennett.  Mr. President, recently David O. McKay, 91-year-old president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and beloved, spiritual leader of 2 1/2 million Mormons throughout the world was the subject of two very fitting tributes.

One of these appeared in the March issue of Guideposts magazine and was written by the noted clergyman Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.  Dr. Peale spoke of the overwhelming impression he has of President McKay as a man with a tremendous zest for living and the utmost concern and consideration for others.  He characterizes President McKay’s outlook in the words of Poet Edwin Markham:

There is a destiny which makes us brothers; 

None lives to self alone;

All that we send into the lives of others

Comes back into our own.

The other tribute appeared in an editorial in one of Utah’s leading newspapers, the Ogden Standard-Examiner.  It spoke of President McKay as ‘A Man Among Men – A Man of Inspiration.’

I heartily concur in these tributes to President McKay.  It has been my privilege to know President McKay for many years.  Undaunted by recent illnesses which have limited his activities, President McKay continues to radiate a spirit of love and kindness which is felt everywhere by members and nonmembers of the Latter-day Saints Church alike.

Many of my colleagues recently have asked about President McKay’s health and I can report that even though he has suffered a series of mild heart attacks he still meets daily with the first presidency of the Latter-day Saints Church and also plans to attend the opening session of the semiannual conference of the church this Sunday.

He is well enough to see people and is feeling quite well.

Mr. President, in the belief that the tributes published in Guideposts and the Ogden Standard-Examiner will be of wide interest, I ask unanimous consent that they be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the tributes were ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

[From the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, Feb. 25, 1965]

It is particularly fitting that our community should set today as David O. McKay Honor Day.

During his 92 years, the venerable president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles to all parts of the world.

But there is no area more closely associated with President McKay than Weber County in general and Ogden Valley in particular.

His native Huntsville has always been ‘home’ to David O. McKay.  During his active years, his favorite form of relaxation was to head for the family home, saddle a horse, and ride across the tranquil countryside.

Horses have always played an important part in the McKay scheme of things.  His first job was carrying the mail to a remote mining camp above Huntsville.  When he first joined the faculty of Weber Academy, he rode his horse daily to the Ogden campus.

These early days in the life of President McKay were retraced this afternoon in a display presented at the Ogden Institute of Religion on the Weber State College campus, arranged by the Huntsville War Relief Society.

Tonight, further tribute will be paid the Latter-day Saints leader in a special program at the Ogden Tabernacle.

Featured address of the evening will be delivered by Elder Hugh B. Brown, first counselor in the church first presidency.

Because of illness, President McKay will be unable to participate personally in the proceedings.  But his spirit will be there – the spirit that has proven such an inspiration to thousands all over the world.

The community should be grateful to those who arranged David O. McKay Honor Day.  Particular credit goes to Dr. P. Wendel Johnson and Neil J. Flinders of the Ogden Institute of Religion.

They could not have picked a more appropriate theme for the occasion.  Its words describe well the feeling of so many Latter-day Saints Church members and nonmembers alike, when they think of President McKay:  ‘A Man Among Men – A Man of Inspiration.’

[From Guideposts, March 1965]


(By Norman Vincent Peale)

The last time I saw David O. McKay I took away with me one overwhelming impression.  I suppose this spiritual leader of 2 1/2 million people might have affected me in many ways.  Wise, saintly, humble, witty – these are words often used about the president of the Mormon Church.  But I carried away with me above all a warm affection for a man who has a tremendous zest for life.

This quality is a great one in any man but I was particularly moved because at the time, President McKay was 91 years old.  His delight in things bubbled over in his laughter, his optimism, his warm and ready smile and especially in the prayer with which our visit ended.  As I stood up to leave his office in Salt Lake City, he slipped his arm through mine and, in fatherly tones, voiced what I can only call a hymn of thanks – for human friendship, for the saving love of Christ, for the privilege of being His disciples.

Later, when my wife Ruth and I were talking about our visit with the Mormon leader, I said, ‘You know I think he is one of the happiest men I’ve ever met.’

Ruth was intrigued.  ‘A man of his age and responsibilities must have some kind of secret behind his vitality.’

His secret.  What a wonderful thing it would be if there were such a secret, and all of us could discover and use it to make our lives the joyous walk with God that his has been.  I thought over what I knew of the man for a clue to this quality.  I remember his secretary, Miss Clare Middlemiss, saying that in the 29 years she’d worked at his elbow she had never heard a cross word.

And I recalled a heart-stopping moment a few months before when, as President McKay mounted the platform to address a group, he tripped on the stairs.  There was a gasp from the people.  But he stood up and faced the audience with that irrepressible smile.  ‘It’s awful to grow old,’ he said ruefully, ‘but I prefer it to the alternative.’

When I returned to New York, I called several of my Mormon friends and told them I was interested in learning more about their leader.  In a matter of days my desk was piled high with copies of President McKay’s speeches, books written about him, letters from people who knew him – and a picture of the man was forming before me.

David O. McKay was born in Huntsville, Utah, on September 8, 1873, the eldest son of 10 children of pioneer parents.  His life followed the traditional Mormon pattern: hard work, a home built around religious faith, a period of missionary work ahead, then the beginning of a teaching career which led him to the very top position in his church.

It was the little glimpses, though, more than the broad outlines, which revealed the quality of the man.

On one occasion President McKay was walking into an auditorium to conduct a service when an eager-faced girl of 8 or 9 pressed through the crowd and asked for his autograph.  He started to oblige, but there was an interruption and when he turned to find her she was gone.

Now it might have seemed a small matter, but not to President McKay.  Shunting aside questions about his talk, he said to those around him, ‘I’ve got to find that little girl.’  Nor would he turn to matters of business until she was found and he had signed her program.

Examples of this kind of caring for other people are especially frequent among his own family.  His son Llewelyn, today a professor at the University of Utah, admits that if any of the six McKay children were on the rebellious side, he was the one.  Llewelyn remembers the time as a teenager when he came home from the store one day bringing the wrench he had been sent to purchase, plus a wide grin.

‘The store clerk was so dumb he gave me $5 extra in change,’ Llewelyn told his father elatedly.

David O. McKay studied his son for a moment.  ‘They won’t miss it, Dad,’ Llewelyn continued more defensively.  ‘That store makes all kinds of money.’

‘You are probably right; the store may not miss that $5,’ his father said.  ‘But if the clerk has to make it up from the salary on which he’s supporting a family, he will miss the $5, won’t he, Son?’

The boy nodded reluctantly.

‘But let us suppose that the clerk is not held responsible,’ he continued.  ‘Let us suppose that no one knows that you have the $5.  You know.  And you know it does not belong to you.’  Thee was a long pause.  ‘It’s up to you, Son, to decide what is the right thing to do.’

Llewelyn returned the $5 the next day.  His father could have made it a cut-and-dried matter of law but, instead he chose to respect the young personality before him, to give him principle to go on but not a command, to make the decision his.

Indeed, thinking over what I had read and observed of this man, it seemed to me that this consideration for other people shone through everything he did, whether he was dealing with his son or a small girl he’d never seen.  I wondered if perhaps that was a clue to the joy he so evidently found in life.

Llewelyn wrote that nowhere is the esteem in which his father holds other people more evident than in his treatment of Mrs. McKay.  After 64 years of marriage, President McKay still rises when she enters the room and, recently in a pouring rain, he was seen holding the car door open for her, his shock of white hair blowing in the storm.

Such concern extends to the very animals of the household.  One night while he was away on a trip the family was wakened in the middle of the night by a telegram.  Frightened, they tore open the envelope.  The message read, ‘Water Caesar.’  Caesar was their boar pig and, in his hotel room hundreds of miles away, President McKay’s training as a farm boy kept him from sleeping for fear the animal had been neglected.

And then one day, in a speech by the beloved churchman, I found the answer to my question:  four lines of a poem by Edwin Markham that President McKay long ago committed to memory as a guide for everyday living.

‘There is a destiny which makes us brothers;

None lives to self alone;

All that we send into the lives of others

Comes back into our own.’

All that we send.  If what went out from David O. McKay into other lives was concern and respect and love, what wonder that joy and peace and affection come back.  It reminded me of an episode which became something of a cause celebre in Salt Lake City 2 or 3 years ago.  Each year on July 24, the city stages a great parade in memory of the coming of the first pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley on that day in 1847.  This particular year, though, something happened which set tongues wagging: for the first time girls in bathing suits appeared on several floats.  A group of starchier church people called on the president to protest.

But the saintly gentleman closed the discussion with a comment which sums up perfectly the principle I am referring to.  ‘I didn’t see anything in that parade,’ he said, which was not beautiful.’

Isn’t this what all of us see in the world around us; not what it is, but what we are?  Looking for the good, the worthwhile, the beautiful in others, David O. McKay finds it there.  This is what makes life so good for him at 91 – and the secret will work at any age.”

Tues., 23 Feb. 1965:

McMurrin, James L. – Journals of

On this day I asked Clare to turn over to the Church Historian’s Office two volumes of journals written by James L. McMurrin, who was President of the European Mission during the time I was President of the Scottish Conference.  He was in attendance at the Priesthood Meeting and made the prediction concerning me.

Tuesday, February 23, 1965

Dear Brother McKay:

While listening to our fine conference on television Sunday I reflected on my father’s prophecy in Glasgow in 1899 that you ‘would sit in the leading councils of the Church.’  I wish he could know how well you have fulfilled that prophecy.  No other individual has made the strides you have in spreading the gospel in my lifetime.

Under your leadership our Church commands more respect than ever before.

We are happy to hear you are improving and we pray that you will soon be fully recovered.

I have my father’s journal which he kept all through his mission presidency.  I have thought because of your position the Church might like to have it.  It is very well written.

Best wishes to Sister McKay and to you.

Faithfully yours

Janet McMurrin Scott

32 Carmel Avenue

Salinas, California

October 6, 1964

Tuesday, February 23, 1965

October 23, 1964

Dear Sister Scott:

I have just read your letter of October 6, 1964, in which you state that while listening to the recent October Conference sessions, you reflected on the prophecy made by your father, James L. McMurrin, at an Elders meeting held in Glasgow, Scotland in 1899.

Your letter recalled vividly to mind that sacred meeting which was attended by angels from Heaven.  As I have often said, your father was ‘pure gold’, and when he made that prediction I had no doubt but what he was inspired.

In your letter you graciously offered to give to the Church the journal which was kept by your father during his presidency of the European Mission.  I should be very pleased to have this original journal for the records of the Church.  The Church Historian’s Office will be pleased to send you a photostat copy (either xerox or microfilm, whichever you prefer) to be kept by the family.

Sister McKay joins me in sending kindest regards and best wishes to you and your Loved Ones.

Sincerely yours,

David O. McKay


Mrs. Janet McMurrin Scott

32 Carmel Avenue

Salinas, California

Tuesday, February 23, 1965

Dear Brother McKay:

My sister and I were very happy when you told us you would like to have our father’s journal of his Mission in Europe when he was in the Presidency.  Therefore I sent it to you about three months ago.

We would like to be sure you received it all right.  Will you please advise us?

With best wishes for your good health, I am


Janet M. Scott

President David O. McKay

Salt Lake City, Utah

February 16, 1965

Tuesday, February 23, 1965

Dear Brother McKay:

I am today mailing you my father’s journal.

My sister and I would like a copy of it if one can be made.   I don’t know the difference in xerox and microfilm so whichever you think will be best would be very acceptable.

With best regards to you and Sister McKay I am 


December 1st, 1964 Janet McMurrin Scott

32 Carmel Avenue

Salinas, California

Tuesday, February 23, 1965

February 23, 1965

Mrs. Roy R. Scott

32 Carmel Avenue

Salinas, California

Dear Sister Scott:

President McKay, who is in the hospital for a check-up, has asked me to send you this note to tell you that he is sorry that he has not sent to you an acknowledgment before this of the receipt of your father’s journals.

He has been holding them hoping that he would have an opportunity to glance through them, but heavy duties associated with the office of the President, together with his illness, have precluded his doing this.

The President wants you to know that he deeply appreciates your kindness in sending these journals to him, and as soon as the Church Historian’s Office has had a chance to photograph them, you will receive a copy.

President McKay sends his greetings and best wishes.

Sincerely yours,

Clare Middlemiss

Secretary to:

President David O. McKay

Tuesday, February 23, 1965

March 5, 1965

Miss Clare Middlemiss

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Sister Middlemiss:

Thank you for your letter advising me my father’s missionary journal had been received.

Yesterday I received the copy of the journal for which I wish to thank Brother McKay.

I hope he is much improved.


Janet M. Scott”

Thurs., 25 Feb. 1965

Note by CM

‘David O. McKay Honor Day’ Proclaimed and Celebrated in Ogden, Utah.

President McKay was very touched by the honor paid him today in Ogden, Utah.  Proclamations by Ogden City and Weber County Commissions, and by the Utah State Legislature were made designating February 25, 1965 as ‘David O. McKay Honor Day’.

Thursday, February 25, 1965

‘David O. McKay Honor Day’

Note by CM

At 11:30 a.m. Lawrence McKay and Dr. Edward R. McKay came over to the office.  After reporting that they had just brought their father home from the hospital, they said to me:  ‘Now father’s condition is such that any matters brought up to him which will worry him will have an effect upon his heart, so please do not take up any matters that will cause him any concern.’  I answered that I should surely follow their wishes in this respect; that, in fact, I had tried for several months now not to bring anything to President McKay which would bother him.  Lawrence said that I should take everything to President Tanner, and I answered that it has always been the practice to refer anything of an official nature to the First Presidency and that it was then taken to the First Presidency’s meeting for attention.  Other matters directly concerning President McKay or that needed his personal attention were held until convenient for the President to give his attention to them.

Note by CM

‘David O. McKay Honor Day’ Proclaimed and Celebrated in Ogden, Utah.

President McKay was very touched by the honor paid him today in Ogden, Utah.  Proclamations by Ogden City and Weber County Commissions, and by the Utah State Legislature were made designating February 25, 1965 as ‘David O. McKay Honor Day’.

President Lyndon B. Johnson sent the following telegram which was read at the meeting held in the Ogden Stake Tabernacle this evening at eight o’clock:

‘It is with great pleasure that I join the good people of Ogden, Utah

as they gather in common tribute to my esteemed friend, David O. McKay.

I am an ardent admirer of Mr. McKay.  The high quality of character and

leadership which he has brought to both his Church and civic duties will

always be an inspiration to me and all who have known him.’

The resolution read in part:  ‘Whereas, President McKay has become a world leader in the cause of education, humanity, and freedom; and Whereas, his life continues to be an inspiration to men of all races and creeds …We extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to….President McKay…for his life of leadership, love and devotion to the people of this state for his exemplification of those principles of freedom that form the basis of our American way of life.’

Dr. Edward R. McKay, the President’s son, accepted the plaque which was presented to President McKay and made a response in his behalf.

The Honor Day was conceived and planned by the Weber State College Institute of Religion, arrangements for which were enthusiastically participated in by all the citizens of Weber County.  (See copy of program and complete tribute, also newspaper accounts following.)  (See also diary of November 13, 1964, and January 25, 1965.)

President McKay later sent a letter to President Johnson, saying,

‘May I express to you my sincere appreciation for the

telegraphic message which you sent to the committee

in Ogden on the occasion of the ‘First Annual David

O. McKay Honor Day’ held there last evening.  Though

I could not be present, I was deeply touched when told 

of this gracious act.  I am sure that all present were most 

grateful for your message.’

Signed David O. McKay

(See Diary of February 26, 1965 for copy of


Later, President McKay sent ‘thank you’ letters to committee in charge of McKay Honor Day.   Also sent letters of appreciation to those who wrote who had attended inspiration meeting.  (See copies of letters following).

Letter received from Senator Wallace F. Bennett informing President McKay that he had article about program in Ogden put in Congressional Record.

Thursday, February 25, 1965

Program of the First annual David O. McKay Honor Day, held in the Ogden LDS Tabernacle, Ogden, Utah, February 25, 1965, at 8:00 p.m.


THEME; ‘A Man Among Men — A Man of Inspiration’


SONG – Ogden LDS Institute of Religion Chorale:  ‘America–Our Heritage’


O, Father, as we meet here in this assembly this night, we express our gratitude to Thee for the bounties of life which we possess, for the beauty of the land in which we live, for the Gospel of Thy Son Jesus Christ, which has been restored to earth, that we might be blessed therein.

Father, we are grateful unto Thee for the Church which Thou hast again established upon this earth through the instrumentality of Thy Prophet Joseph Smith, and for the Prophets that thou has sent among us to lead us in Thy word.

Father, we are grateful unto Thee for our present living Prophet, President David O. McKay, for his wisdom, for his inspiration and guidance of this people.  We are grateful unto Thee for all of our leaders and for the peace and prosperity of Thy people.

Father, we pray that inasmuch as we are met here on this occasion to do honor to our Living Prophet, that Thou wilt remember him and bless him this night — restore him to health and strength, and bless Sister McKay.  Father, we pray that Thou wilt let Thy Spirit be upon him that he may sense the love which this people have for him; that he may rejoice in that love and find in it great joy in his declining years.

Father, we pray that while we are gathered together, those who may sing of us and those who speak to us may be inspired of Thee, that they may speak to us from the heart.  Wilt Thou bless those of us who listen that we may have the Holy Ghost in our hearts to give us understanding and joy.

Father, we pray that the testimony which Thy great Prophet, David O. McKay has born to this people may always live in our hearts, that it may strengthen our testimonies, that we may go about our duties enriched, enlightened, and with love in our hearts for Thee and for Thy people.

For these blessings we humbly pray on this occasion, in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ, Amen.

SONG -Ogden LDS Institute Chorale:  ‘The Forty-Sixth Psalm’

WELCOME — P. WENDEL JOHNSON, Director of the Ogden LDS Institute of Religion

Brethren and Sisters, we are honored to welcome you this evening to the first Annual David O. McKay Honor Day.  We express our gratitude to all those who have contributed of their time, talent, and energy to make this occasion a reality.  The cooperation and willing spirit of State, Civic, Educational, and Church authorities and organizations have been heartwarming.  We specifically commend the press, radio, and television for their help in uniting the many groups who were necessary to make this day a success, and we acknowledge those who have prepared the physical facilities and assisted in the details of this meeting, including floral bouquets, courtesy of Ogden City Floral.

We express our deep gratitude to the Huntsville Relief Society and to the McKay family for preparing the outstanding pictorial display for the reception that was held this afternoon at the Ogden LDS Institute of Religion.  Hundreds enjoyed this unique opportunity to share memories of President McKay’s life.  For those who were unable to attend this outstanding display this afternoon, the Huntsville Relief Society has consented to present it once again this Sunday evening at the Huntsville LDS Chapel.

We are honored this evening with the presence of many notable persons — General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Educators, and State, County, and City officials, and, also, members of the McKay family.

We are pleased to call attention to the fact that Ogden City, Weber County, and the State Legislature have issued resolutions commending this event.  For historical purposes we would like to read these into the record.

The following from Ogden City:

‘Whereas, for many years past, and now, President

David O. McKay, by his many Church, business,

educational and civic activities, has evidenced a

real concern for and in a great many ways has 

helped and encouraged the people of Ogden City

and Weber County,

And, whereas, it is fitting that people so wanted in

this instant to show their appreciation for the friend-

ship and assistance of the outstanding man,

And, whereas, persons representing the educational,

Church, business, and civic life of Ogden City have

organized appropriate proceedings to honor President

McKay for his many Church, business, educational,

and civic activities on behalf of the people of Ogden

City and of Weber County.

Now, therefore, I, Merle E. Allen, Mayor of Ogden

City, do hereby proclaim Thursday, February 25,

1965, as David O. McKay Day in Ogden, Utah, and I 

hereby urge all of the citizens of Ogden, by word and 

deed, to express their friendship for and appreciation

to him for his many years of service and genuine concern

for this community.’

The following from the Weber County Commission:

‘Whereas, David O. McKay is the favorite son of

Weber County, Utah, having given long years of

venerable service to his community, State, and his


And, whereas, it seems appropriate to set aside

a day to honor David O. McKay.

Now, therefore, be it and it is hereby proclaimed

by the Board of Weber County Commissioners that

Thursday, February 25, 1965, be, and it is hereby

designated as DAVID O. MCKAY DAY for the purpose

of showing him respect and honor for his long and

faithful service to the people of Weber County, Utah.

And from the Utah State Legislature a resolution spearheaded by Legislators E. LaMar Buckner and Gunn McKay and co-sponsored by all members of both houses, as follows:

‘A joint resolution of the Senate and House of 

Representatives of the State of Utah to extend to

President David Oman McKay of The Church of

Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the sincere 

appreciation and gratitude of this Legislature and

the people of the State of Utah for his life of

leadership, love, and devotion to the people of

the State.

Be it resolved by the Legislature of the State of


Whereas, David Oman McKay was born in Hunts-

ville, Weber County, Utah, September 8, 1873,

a son of David McKay and Jennette Evans,

And, whereas, he has become a world leader in

the cause of education, humanity, and freedom,

And, whereas, his spiritual guidance to millions

has been a source of growth, strength and life,

And, whereas, his faith and his love for his fellow

men have been an example to all people of the world,

And, whereas, his example of devoted companion-

ship for his wife, Emma Ray Riggs McKay, serves

as a beacon to all men of the strength of the family

unit in a world that seeks a unity of the family of


and, whereas, his life continues to be an inspiration

to men of all races and creeds,

And, whereas, his life has, in ninety-one years, 

brought credit, honor, recognition, and growth to

the State of Utah,

‘And, whereas, David O. McKay is to be honored

by the citizens of Weber County in the State of

Utah on Thursday, February 25, 1965, at Ogden,

Utah, in a special David O. McKay Day,

Now, therefore, let it be resolved by the Legis-

lature of the State of Utah that we do extend our

sincere appreciation and gratitude to President

David Oman McKay, of The Church of Jesus Christ

of Latter-day Saints, for his life of leadership,

love, and devotion to the people of this State, and

for his exemplification of those principles of free-

dom that form the basis of our American way of life.’

And we are especially pleased to share with you the following telegram from the President of the United States:

The White House

Washington D.C.

‘It is with great pleasure that I join the good people of 

Ogden as they gather in common tribute to my

esteemed friend David O. McKay.  The high qualities

of character and leadership which he has brought to

both his church and civic duties will always be an 

inspiration to me and to all who have known him.

Lyndon B. Johnson’

We shall now continue with the program.  William P. Miller, President of the Weber State College will be our first speaker.

TRIBUTE – WILLIAM P. MILLER, President of Weber State College

Representing the educational institutions

My Brethren and Sisters, I accepted this assignment a number of days ago in gratitude and also with humility to say just a few words of tribute to President McKay on this occasion.  The program indicates that I am representing the educational institutions.  The particular assignment to me was to give a few words of tribute concerning President McKay’s contribution to what began seventy-six years ago as Weber Stake Academy, and which has evolved to what is today Weber State College.

In attempting to consider what might be appropriate on this occasion, I concluded that it would be quite inappropriate to try to make a long list of the many specific ways in which President McKay has contributed to this institution.  I have chosen instead to refer to some of his basic beliefs which have resulted in his many years of tremendous influence, not only to this institution, but to the field of education.

Today we honor a great man, the man who was born in this county and who grew to manhood in this county.  We honor a man who fully deserves this special day of recognition.  The man, who dedicates his life to the improvement of mankind in general and to people as individuals, must possess firm convictions concerning people and their personal abilities to be improved and to improve themselves.  Actually this belief hinges on one of the basic tenants of Christianity, and also on one of the basic tenants of American democracy — the belief that man does have the capacity to grow and to improve himself.  This belief is especially demonstrated in the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerning eternal progression.  Without this basic faith in the individuals our schools and churches would be purposeless.

President David O. McKay has demonstrated a life-long dedication to his faith in and concern for the individual.  He has demonstrated his sincere belief in and personal commitment to education as a major means of improving mankind in general and improving each person individually.  Among many of his statements concerning education are the following, and I quote:

‘After all is said and done, the most potent force for

training youth in the United States today is our public

school system.  But let us face clearly and forcefully

the fact that the paramount ideal permeating all edu-

cation in the Grades, the High School, through College,

and the University, should be more spiritual than


And again:

‘In my opinion the highest, noblest purpose in all edu-

cation from the Grades to the University is to teach

citizenship and noble character.  I believe that the 

thousands of students who have entered these halls have

been made to sense by instruction and by inference

that a man’s character is greater than intellectual attainments

or social privileges.  That every thought creates character,

that every act is an incarnation of character, that every decision

is a revelation of character, and that habit is a pillar in the edifice

of character.’

And again:

‘But gaining knowledge is one thing and applying it is

another.  Wisdom is the right application of knowledge

to the development of the noble and godlike character.

The man may possess a profound knowledge of history,

and of mathematics, he may be an authority on physiology,

biology or astronomy, he may know all about whatever has

been discovered pertaining to general and natural science,

but if he has not, with this knowledge, that nobility of soul which 

prompts him to deal justly with his fellow man, to practice virtue 

and honesty in personal life, he is not a truly educated man.’

And then, one more statement: 

‘Character is the aim of true education, and science

history, and literature are but means used to accomplish

this desired end.  Character is not the result of chance,

but of continuous right thinking and right acting.  True

education seeks to make men and women not only good 

mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists or

brilliant literary lights, but also honest men with virtue,

temperance, and brotherly love.  It seeks to make men

and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence,

self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life.’

These statements express the educational philosophy of the man who has been so very important to what is now Weber State College since he joined its faculty in 1899.  President McKay’s interest in Weber began with his father, who assisted in the creation of this institution, known in 1889 as Weber Stake Academy.  President McKay was a middle teenager at that time.  He later became a student, and in 1899, after returning from a mission to Scotland, he joined the Weber Faculty.  In 1902, at a young age, he became the fourth person to become its principal.  He succeeded Lewis F. Moench, who was Weber’s first principal and who in 1902 completed his second term in that position.

During his term of six years as principal, in 1906, President McKay was appointed a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He was released as principal in 1908 to devote his full time to his Church duties, but for several years following his release as principal he served on the Academy’s Board of Trustees as President.  He described the purposes of the Academy as follows, and this is a quote:

‘To promote moral, intellectual and physical development of man, to make boys and girls self-governing and self-directing men and women.’

On behalf of all of us who are and have been associated with Weber State College, I am honored to express to President McKay our deep appreciation for his life-long interest in our institution.  Weber’s progress has been assisted significantly by his support and I trust that the educational purposes of Weber will continue to stress the development of character as well as scholarship.

Since preparing this statement, I received a letter from a person who was a member of one of his early classes, who will be known to many of you people who are here, and I thought it might be very appropriate to read this letter from William H. Manning, who was of the class of 1905, and who wrote the music to the school hymn, ‘Purple and White’, and who was a member of the faculty later.  This came from Phoenix, Arizona:

‘I was thrilled today to read in the Standard Examiner that Weber State is doing honor to our great educator and spiritual leader, President David O. McKay.’

I might say that these few statements indicate the tremendous high and close personal esteem of the individuals who were students and those who worked with President McKay when he was here at this institution.  Continuing with the letter:

‘I was a member of the class of 1905, and during my four years there, he was my English teacher and became principal.  His brother, Thomas E., was our basketball coach, and his beloved sister, Jeanette, was also my teacher and advisor to our class.  Brother McKay organized a male quartet of which I was a member, and coached us in rehearsals so that we could sing at school functions. He organized the first band composed of eight or ten horn blowers and a bass drum beater.  In spite of the unbalance of the instruments, led by our favorite teacher, the music thrilled us.  How well their music was received and the affection with which Brother McKay was held is expressed in one of our songs ‘The Parodie on Mr. Dooley’ written by Walter Abbot, class of 1905, and it is as follows:

‘Oh, the boys of the Academy have got a lovely band.

The youngsters play some music that we think is simply grand.

Who was it organized the crowd and taught them how to play

The Souza marches and the swift ta-ra-ra-boom-di-ray

‘Twas Mr. Davey, avey, avey, O. McKay’

Then he concludes with this statement:

‘How that wonderful leader has stirred our hearts and lifted us all since those school days sixty-three years ago.’

TRIBUTE – MERLE E. ALLEN, Mayor Ogden City.  Representing Local Municipalities

It is always good to honor greatness.  I am sure it does something for each of us to be able to meet on this occasion in honor of David O. McKay.  The citizens of Ogden and Weber County have long been proud of David O. McKay.  He began as a youth to bring credit to his community and each year he has added to a long list of achievements.

I am sure the people of Huntsville are especially delighted to have all know that President David O. McKay was born and lived his early years in their town.  Today at the reception, one of the citizens from Huntsville reported that the town had been deserted this afternoon during that reception, and for a good reason.  These people are proud and do not hesitate to express their pride in being a member of a community that was able to produce a man of his stature.

It is my distinct pleasure to represent all municipalities in our State in doing honor to this much loved, great man.  So great has been his success in the religious field, that we sometimes forget his great impact on civic affairs.  Some of his specific contributions in the early days in this area were:

1914 to 1917 — President of the Ogden Betterment League

1915 — Member of Red Cross Board of Weber County

1932 — Chairman of the Utah Centennial Committee

and then 1942 and 1943 — Member of the Utah State Advisors Committee

for American Red Cross.

Of course, if you were to read all of the things President McKay had done, it would take you more time than we have here tonight, but these are just a few of the specific things he did in the civic area.  The significant point is, however, that his contribution to civic life has not been so much because of specific civic tasks he has set about to do, but the great effect he has had on all of us by simply being the kind of man, the kind of example, the kind of leader that he has been.  He has made the task of municipal government, in our area especially, easier because of the impact he has had on the lives of each of us.  This great contribution to civic life in our State has stemmed from the overriding influence of his leadership and example.

People of many religions and of many walks of life have praised President McKay.  His example has given all of us greater confidence and pride in ourselves as sons and daughters of God.

And as we look upon this man it becomes increasingly easy to accept man as a son of God.

Several years ago, I was talking with a Protestant friend of mine, Professor Howard Knight.  President McKay’s name came into the discussion, and I made the point that when President McKay made a statement that to many people it was as though he had a halo on his head.  Professor Knight remarked ‘Well on David O. McKay a halo looks good’.  I could not help but feel that he touched neatly a feeling that so many of us have had.  In fact I think we have sometimes had to look twice to be sure there was not a halo there.

There are many people who are not as handsome when they get a little older as they were when there were younger.  If I am to read from his pictures properly, those of us who have lived about in my time have perhaps seen President McKay in some of his greatest beauty — at the age of seventy, a most handsome and impressive person; and it is well to realize that this kind of person could not be in our community and in front of us as he has been without leaving an affect on our lives, and when you affect the lives of many in turn you have affected the life of a community, and that community is made greater because of it.  All of us need models and ideals to enrich our lives and heighten our personal goals.  David O. McKay has touched millions of lives, men and women of many lands have lived better lives because David O. McKay lived during their lifetime.

We take great pride in President McKay, much the same as we take pride in our mountains.  The stature of the man reminds us of the stature of our lovely mountains.  We are proud that he is one of our local citizens who has indeed become a very great citizen of the world.

TRIBUTE – BEVERLY HOWELL, Representing Business and Service Organizations

Dr. Johnson, ladies and gentlemen.  Any man would be honored at being asked to perform the task that is mine here this evening, and I am certainly no exception.  This is an auspicious occasion ‘Honoring a Man Among Men — A Man of Inspiration’ — one whose influence for good upon his fellow men and their institutions has not even begun to be measured as yet — David O. McKay.

It was with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation to say a few words this evening concerning President McKay’s influence upon our community.  I was invited to represent the people in the area who are not members of the Latter-day Saints’ Church.  You may be assured that it was with much pride and genuine gratitude and a very real and very deep sense of humility that I approached this assignment.

Both before and since this occasion was announced, many people have spoken to me of their experiences and their observations.  I have known President McKay only a brief span of years by comparison.  Our contacts have been few, but they have been memorable and they are most highly cherished.  One cannot live in this valley without feeling the influence of President McKay.  He is just that kind of man.  I pray that on this evening and in these few minutes that are mine, I can convey to you some of the high esteem and some of the love that I and countless other non-Mormons have for this great and good man.

President McKay has been honored by heads and officials of governments throughout the world.  In fact, it has been said that in his more-than-one-million-miles of travel in foreign countries, he has proved to be one of our most effective ambassadors.  This is entirely understandable, for he lives his philosophy.   All of us have read the news this past year and are aware of the affection and respect which the President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, has for President McKay.  The wire we just heard our Chairman read, the telephone call on Inauguration Day, and the flowers that were recently sent by President Johnson to President McKay, are indicative of the fine relationship and respect.

I enjoyed a short visit with President McKay when he was coming back by plane from his first visit with President Johnson.  Presidents as well as presidential aspirants have sought his counsel often.  Surely residents of this County, and all of this State, both those of us who enjoy calling this ‘home’ now, and those who will make this area ‘home’ in the future years — the Mormons, the non-Mormons, alike will owe a deep gratitude to this great and good man for the everlasting contribution that he has made to this area.  The foundations upon which good government rest are the same foundations as support Christianity.  There is a definite relationship between vital and vibrant Christianity and the well-being of the Nation — politically, socially, economically and culturally.  This State is recognized nationally for its religion and also for its good government.

His leadership has served us well in countless other ways.  His devotion to Scouting is near and dear to my heart.  He is a recipient of the Silver Beaver, also the coveted Silver Buffalo Award.  The Boy Scouts program in our State is more widespread than of any other part of the Nation.  In the four council areas in Utah over seventy-five per cent of the boys of Scouting age are enrolled in the program.  I noticed on my first visit to President McKay’s office that one of the two plaques that hang on the wall outside of his office was awarded to him by the National Scout Council.  I may be just a bit prejudiced, but I believe that Scouting is the greatest character-building agency we have after you consider the home and the Church.  It may come as a surprise to some of you, but I am informed by the Minister of one of our Protestant Churches here in Ogden, that within the past few years President McKay sent a check to him that bought all of the pews in that church.  He has a deep interest in whatever goes on in this community.

Directly and indirectly President McKay has led out in many areas that have been helpful to industrial growth in this State.  We have a highly educated and a skilled labor force.  Our people enjoy a fine reputation as employees.  Many cultural opportunities are available.  Any industry has been made to feel wanted.  Now we are in the process of doing a much better job of extolling these virtues to the industrialists in the Nation.  These things I have come to know in my association with the Utah Manufacturers Association over the past few years.

Many people, ordinary people, if you wish, speak their views on President McKay from day to day.  A dear friend made this comment:  ‘President McKay appears to me exactly as I expect God to look’.  A minister said to me the other day ‘A great and a good man, never assuming his importance, always most gracious and kindly.  He has the common touch.’  An Ogden business man said to me last week ‘Where principle is involved this man is immovable, he is a man you must respect.’  These are not famous people, they are the people who have lived here for many years, some of them all of their lives and they love this man — you can feel it.  The love and the goodness that he has radiated in this area throughout his life are seen and felt and talked about, and many of those talking are not of his faith.  Not one time in all of the years that I have lived in this area, have I heard one derogatory comment about President McKay.  Believe me that speaks volumes.

With your permission, I would like to read my impression of President McKay after my first visit with him:

‘Upon meeting, I had the feeling that here was one of the few really great men that a person has the opportunity of meeting in a lifetime, yet he did not once mention or in any manner refer to his importance.  He was the perfect example of humility, reminding me of the manner of Christ when He washed the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper.  Here was a man who was most gracious, kindly of manner and spirit.  His love for his fellow men and his sincere concern was evident.  Here was a family man, civic minded, and interested in improving education, culture and good government.  He believed in human dignity, and the freedom of the individual.  He has the common touch and the infinite capacity for conveying his belief in the brotherhood of man.  With all of this one sensed a tremendous strength that would surely be adequate for any occasion.  His very presence radiated love, good will and a very deep spirituality.  Here was a great and a good man, a man of God.’

That first impression has been confirmed many times and has grown over the years.

In closing, I know that all of you will join me in praying that the Lord will continue to cause His countenance to shine upon this beloved leader and richly bless him.  Thank you.

TRIBUTE – ALBERT L. BOTT, Representing Religious Organizations

Approximately ten years ago I was sitting in one of these choir seats with other members of the presidencies of the Stakes as we prepared the dedicatorial service for this building.  In front of us was President McKay.  He started to talk to us, as many here will remember, about his trip to Ogden that morning — how beautiful the valley was and how much he enjoyed the ride.  And then he caught the Spirit and began to reminisce.  He told us about this particular square and how other buildings had been started here, and how as a young boy he played upon some of the forgotten foundations.  And then he mentioned the great men of the community when he was a boy, and he kept saying to us, ‘You remember him, you remember this one, you remember that one’.  He didn’t get much of a confirmation from us, and finally he stopped and said, ‘You’re all just boys, just children.’  Tonight I feel like a boy, a very small boy, as I attempt to pay tribute to this great man.

He has a wonderful sense of humor.  I remember on one occasion shortly after this building was dedicated, I took some of the brochures down to Salt Lake that they might be available for the General Authorities.  I arrived there real early because I wanted to get back to work, and as I stood talking to one of the Brethren out in the foyer, the door to his office opened and he came out, and said, ‘You know I thought I heard someone from Ogden’, and nothing would do but what I went back in the office with him.  He asked me to sit down and I started to sit down in the chair in front of the desk, and he said ‘No, you come around in back.’  And so he set me in a chair in back of his desk with our knees almost touching, and he put his hands on my knees, looked me in the eye, and said ‘I’ve got to tell you a little Scot story.’  And that day, in front of me he seemed just like my father, the man I love most in all the world.  Just as close, just as wonderful.  And I was at home.

Some of his sense of humor you find in his children, his grandchildren, his nieces.  When I was made Stake President one of his nieces said, ‘Well, we’re a little different, in most of the Stakes the Stake President is called, but in our Stake he’s bought (Bott).’  So this has seemed to follow me through life, and I have been grateful for it.

That day in that little talk in the office he told me how wonderful a sense of humor was.  He said ‘I feel a little sorry for those that have such long faces that they have to sleep on their pillow lengthwise.’  So this great man, regardless of who you are, what you are, makes you feel that you are important.  It has been said that ‘He that governs well leads the blind, but he that teaches well gives them eyes to see.’  A great spiritual man must be a man of inspiration and the image of this great man will long be remembered.  He and I have something in common.  I was born the year he was made an Apostle, so he has always been my leader, and I have been so grateful for the inspiration that he has given me.

I think these few lines might have been penned to express his life plan:

‘Alone I walked with God today

He told me what to do

As I looked up he seemed to say

‘Be good, be kind, be true’.

I came back from that walk with God

To do good works for man

And lo, in this new path I trod

I walked with God again.’

One day as I came out of a convention meeting in the Hotel Utah, I walked out on South Temple.  I had been in a room where there had been smoking and there had been some long talks, and I wanted some fresh air.  As I stood there, my back to the street, I looked East, and I saw this great man coming out of the Church offices, straight, erect, he seemed to be reaching upwards.  As he came down the steps to the street and started down the street, I sensed the people that were walking towards him seemed to straighten up, and I couldn’t help but feel that I, too, was kind of putting my shoulders back.  He stopped and spoke to someone, and then a woman and a child, and I noticed how quickly he removed his hat, how he bent and spoke to the child.  By the time he got to me, I am sure I was standing my full height.  He saw me and spoke and shook hands.  I walked back into that building I know a foot taller.

This is the inspiration of this great man, because he has done in his life that which has been commanded — he has patterned his life after the image of the Christ who came into the world, and he has taught very simply the message of the Christ who came into the world, and he has taught very simply the message of the Christ.  ‘As you would that others do unto you, do ye even so unto them’.  The Savior taught us, of course, many wonderful things, and he has taught us to walk in those ways.  He is respected and loved by all, and he loves especially all of us.

I remember one day watching a couple in the Temple that he had just sealed, and the expression of love that was there; he put his arm on my shoulder, and said ‘The Lord says we should love one another, but our own will always be just a little special.’

These are the little things, these are the simple things that come into our hearts and inspire us.  I have another little poem that I am sure is something that he has taught, perhaps through all his life, and these words might, in a small way, express it, and I am sure that he has said it in many different ways:

‘Count your garden by the flowers,

Never by the leaves that fall.

Count your days by golden hours;

Don’t remember clouds at all.

Count your nights by stars,

Not shadows.

Count your life with smiles,

Not tears.

And with joy through all your lifetime

Count your age by friends, not years.’

And so as he has spoken little of age and of time, yet to us he is ageless; countless are the years because of this.

And so tonight, representing those that I do, from full hearts we say:  ‘To Sister McKay, we thank you for your inspirational life as a mother and a wife, for your love and devotion which has made his greatness possible.  No one will know the hours you have been alone with your family, but as we look at your fine sons and daughters, we know you have not been alone.  We have had the benefits of his life, and we thank you for your dedication.  I have said many times to women, you just cannot be quite so good as your husband because you don’t have a good woman back of you like he does.  To President McKay, we who have followed so weakly and imperfectly in your footsteps, express our love and appreciation to you — our brother, our leader, our Prophet.  For your life we return our thanks.  May our Father bless you tonight and forever.

TRIBUTE – CELESTIA OBORN, Representing Students of the Area

‘A Prophet Inspires You’ lovingly written for and dedicated to President David O. McKay:

‘A man rare and marvelous leads us

With strength that’s undaunted by time,

Whose calling is noble, who guides us

According to prophecies divine.

His countenance manifests greatness

It glows from a pure light that’s there,

A light from the intimate knowing of God

Whose own message he bears.

We sit at the feet of a prophet

Who bids us true knowledge to seek

We are lifted and strengthened by knowing

He lives by the word he does speak.

And we in our youth trust his wisdom,

We know that he speaks for the Lord,

And knowing he loves us, unwavering

We’ll stand, unashamed, by his word.

‘We cause him concern, oftimes sadness

Whenever we stray from the light

But we’re charged to strive all the harder

Because of his love to do right.

He’s helping us to walk on God’s pathway

Providing a beacon in strife

He’s giving us something to follow

He lives an exemplary life.

We honor, revere him, and love him,

And all through the world he is known

A builder of Temples, a Prophet

A leader of leaders — Our own!

There’s something about him that’s radiant

That lives far above earth’s life dim

There’s something more Christlike than earth knows

We want to become more like him.

CONGREGATION AND CHORALE – ‘We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet’


It is our pleasure to introduce President Hugh B. Brown, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  President Brown has had many, many intimate years of association with President McKay.  President Brown.

GUEST SPEAKER – HUGH B. BROWN, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This is a humbling, but challenging experience.  It is also a pleasure and a privilege and an honor to be permitted to say a few words on this occasion when we have met to honor Ogden’s most illustrious citizen and Huntsville greatest native son — President David O. McKay.

Much has already been said, many tributes have been paid, and we could stay here until morning and if we did almost everyone in this building would wish to say something in tribute to President McKay.

I see before me here quite a number of his contemporaries, men and women, who have shared most of his ninety-one years, members of his own family, his father’s family, members of his own children, his own family, those whom he loved most.  I am very glad there is present on the stand so many of the General Authorities of the Church who are close to him, who work with him, who appreciate him, as anyone must who comes to be familiar with his methods, with his character.

I should like, rather than to follow notes, and I confess to having prepared some, I should like rather to speak from my heart as I speak of this great man.  I have been favored, as has been mentioned, with the privilege of being rather close to him, and, therefore, when I speak I find it somewhat difficult to refrain from emotional expressions.

Now, inasmuch as this is to be an annual affair, it is fitting and proper that it should be held in Ogden.  This area has been a magnet or a polestar to his life, and I am sure all of Utah, all of the United States, many of the countries of the world, would like to claim him as their own.  Now, as we are not competent to analyze or portray the many-sided facets of this life, I think I shall have to be content to read briefly from some of his writings to illustrate the character of the man, and bring to you some thoughts with respect to what has interested him most as he has come through this long trip which, to him, has not seemed so long.

It was my pleasure with President Tanner this morning to call on the President in the hospital, and I mentioned that he was probably going to go back to his room in the hotel.  He said ‘Yes, I shouldn’t have come here at all’.  He said ‘The doctor’s insisted, but I’m all right, and I want to go back home and get to work.  There are a lot of things to do.’  That was characteristic of the man.

To all who have know him intimately, he seems to have an air of unexecuted or inexhaustible strength and stamina, and life.  We always get a great lift when we come into his presence, and he seems to radiate his spirit in our meetings.  Even though he may not be able to participate very much, just his presence there is a boon to all of us.  We know him as a Prophet of God, a Seer, a Revelator, and we who have been close to him have seen him inspired of God in those relationships which come to him as a result of his life and his calling.

President McKay has lived a life of self-discipline, of devotion, of sacrifice and faithful adherence to a great Cause.  One might read many selections from his own writings to illustrate his consistent adherence to the fundamentals of greatness.  He was a great patriot, he is a great patriot, a great American.

It was my pleasure to be in the office of the President of the United States quite recently, and he said ‘How is my friend, President McKay?’, and then he added ‘He is a great American and I love him.’  As an evidence of President Johnson’s feelings towards President McKay, he, as you know, stopped off in Salt Lake to pay his respects to him, and the president’s telegram tonight seems to indicate that his feeling toward the President becomes deeper as time goes on.

Prominent and successful men have listed five qualities that go into the making of a great leader.  May I refer to them briefly.

First is knowledge.  President McKay has an insatiable appetite for reading, and he has time only for the best books.  His innate desire to gain knowledge, coupled with three quarters of a century of traveling — and he is the most raveled missionary of all times — has made of him one of the most knowledgeable of men.  He lives with the maxim that a man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge and that ‘the glory of God is intelligence.’

The second evidence which is given by the writers of greatness is listed as imagination.  He was ever on the alert for new and untried fields and knowledge.  He seems to feel that imagination was akin to inspiration and he fashioned his life on that great desire to be inspired of God in what he undertook to do.

The third is listed as solid thinking, and I would like to emphasize that, because we who sit in council with him often make mistakes, express opinions that won’t stand up, hasty judgments and hasty decisions, but President McKay always brings us back to the goal with a few, not chiding, but friendly remarks about the need of thinking a thing through before expressing an opinion.  He brought to every question the kind of mature judgment which often saved his contemporaries from mistakes and sometimes loss.

The fourth item is initiative.  He was unafraid to venture into new fields.  His pioneer upbringing, I suppose, was largely responsible for that.  He has an instinct for inquiry, and he reaches out and seeks out the best there is to be had and always knows there is something still better, and for that he constantly is seeking.

The fifth qualification is listed as hard work.  His associates no matter how early they would get to the office, when his health would permit it, he was always there first, and invariably his light was the last one turned off at night.  Many of his younger companions found it very difficult and find it very difficult now, to keep up with his pace.  He said this morning ‘There’s nothing wrong with me except my legs don’t respond and my arms don’t do what I tell them, and my mouth won’t work quite like it should, but I’m all right.’  Often he has quoted a part of that little, I suppose it’s called a poem ‘My get up and go has got up and went’.  He believes that no none ever climbed the ladder of success with his hands in his pockets.  A Scot writer was a favorite of his, I don’t know why the Scotch should be, except for the fact that he has in his veins that unmatched mixture of Scotch and Welsh, but this lady wrote with regard to work 

‘Thank God for the might of it,

The ardor, the urge, the delight of it –

Work that springs from the heart’s desire,

Setting the brain and the soul on fire.

Oh, what is so good as the heat of it,

And what is so kind as the stern command

Challenging brain and heart and hand.’

(Angela Morgan)

President McKay subscribes to that kind of philosophy.

But I should like to add a sixth qualification for greatness, and that I would list as some knowledge of the relationship that exists between God and man.  Where one comes to appreciate the fact that God is actually his Father and that there is, therefore, something of Him in us, when we come to see what that relationship implies and work to the end of aspiring to be and to become what that relationship promises, then in fact, are we building toward greatness.

In January of 1962, a scroll was presented to Mr. Basil O’Connor.  He was a friend of President McKay — he is a friend, he is still living.  I would like to read just an excerpt from what was on that scroll as it applies with particular force to this evening’s celebration.  It reads:

‘The nature of leadership defies definition.  It is revealed as much in the achievements of those who follow as in the character of him who leads.  For leadership is a creative force through which all the wisdom, the courage and the dedication to high purpose of one individual are communicated to the minds and hearts and souls of others…’

And then Mr. O’Connor, responding to those who, presenting him with the scroll, made some very scintillating remarks with respect to the meaning of leadership, and said: ‘…there could be no leadership without followers and that there can be no followers without leadership.’  He drew attention of his auditors to the fact that ‘Only as the followers partake of something of the quality of the leader is the leader’s work effective.’

Thousands of men in all parts of the world have been affected by this great man.  Frequently when he was able to be in the office, great men from all nations visiting Salt Lake City, have asked for an interview with President David O. McKay, and time and time again as they have come out of his office we have heard them say ‘There is a great man’.  Some of them have said, and they were not familiar with the Mormon faith, ‘I felt that I was in the presence of a prophet’.  Such an influence did he have on those who came into his presence.

I shall not read some of the things that I had prepared because I believe that I can do better if I simply tell you a little of what those of us feel associating day by day with him.  I am reminded that at the age of ninety-one he is still true to every trust.  President Tanner said as we came out of the hospital this morning, ‘If we could only measure up so that we might come to his knees in stature, we might be counted worthy to be his associates.’  To which I said, ‘Amen’.

He started life as a young man after his first mission as a teacher, and he was a distinctive teacher, a different type of teacher, a great teacher, and they who were privileged to be his students have felt the impact of his personality.  He always taught that the truth taught and the teacher must be of the same pattern.  In other words, that a teacher must be what he teaches, and he has practiced that all his life.

President McKay has been an outstanding father and husband, grandfather, great-grandfather.  I should read just a line with respect to the one whom he esteems to be the greatest of fathers.  He has been supported by a life-long companion who is very feminine and sweet, but still she is of his own large nature.  His courage is an heroic mold.  She is one on whom he can lean and from whom he has frequently taken counsel through sixty-four honeymoon years.  You do not need to be around them very long to realize how he feels toward Sister McKay — gentle, courteous, respectful, thoughtful, kind, and she reflects everything he has.  God bless Sister McKay and may they live while they can live happily, and may we be blessed with their continued presence.

As a leader of the Church he stands beside Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and other leaders.  He is one of the greatest of our leaders of modern times.  Not only has he had a profound effect on the members of the Church, but on thousands of others throughout the world.

His sense of humor has been mentioned here tonight.  Mingling with his deep spirituality he has a wonderful sense of humor.  I remember one day at a General Conference of the Church in the Tabernacle when he had called on some younger men to speak and they spoke very well, fluently, and sincerely and honestly, then I turned to him and whispered and said:  ‘You know, President McKay, I think the Church will go on after you and I have gone.’  He said ‘Gone where?’  He said, “I’m not going any place, where are you going?’.  That was characteristic of the man.

He likes this quotation, ‘A smile is a light in the window of the face which shows that the heart is at home.’  Don’t you like that?

Solomon said, ‘Pleasant words are as honeycomb — sweet to the soul and health to the bones.’

We can’t think of President McKay without thinking of kindness, gentleness, consideration, helpfulness, inspiration, and we thank God for what he has meant to all of us.

‘No man is truly great who does not have reverence for Deity and for sacred things’.  In his writings he often stresses the need for reverence, and has done as much as any man in the Church to bring about an improved condition throughout the country, throughout the world insofar as this jewel among the virtues is concerned, through reverence.

During his Presidency, the Church has grown more rapidly than at any other time.  Our Building Program has exceeded anything that could be thought of by our predecessors.  Much of these things are the result of his foresight, his courage, his vision, and he never projected anything that he wasn’t willing to see through to the end.

He is a man of positive and decisive opinions.  Sometimes we have run up against those opinions.  Sometimes with slightly different opinions, and we have come away with his opinion, and we have thanked him for it.  He always emphasizes that every man must have opinions, and must take one side of the road or the other, and has emphasized again that flabbiness and indecision and compromise have no place in the life of a leader.  I hope we will remember that.

Any man is fortunate who finds people and ideals and causes to which he can gladly and completely give himself.  In fact, no one reaches the summit of his capacity as a man until he has felt the experience of being lifted above himself by the power of a three-fold relationship — the self, the fellowman, and a common cause.  Friendship itself is comparatively empty unless it is enlarged by the presence of this comparatively third person, a common cause.  He serves a common cause, he serves his fellowmen, and in order to serve them effectively he is constantly preparing himself to lead and is one of the greatest leaders we have had.  He is an outstanding literary figure, familiar with the world’s great literature, and he is discriminating and exact in the use of English.  We have always admired him when we have taken documents or letters to him for his signature, when he would read them over and correct our English, and he did it in the kindest sort of way, but we always knew who was the teacher.  And in his coming into his calling as an Apostle, he did not desert his early love, teaching, but he expanded it, and gave it a world-wide setting.  For this we have often thanked the Lord.

President McKay is a worshipper of womanhood and motherhood and believes and has often said that parenthood is next to Godhood.  I have been inspired more by his dissertations on the home, the mother, the duties and obligations of the father and of the children, and have tried, so far as I could, to fashion my life on the lines which he has laid down for real effective teaching in the home; and the program that has recently been launched is a result largely of his inspiration and far-sightedness, and is going over in a big way.  He said ‘womanhood should be intelligent and pure because it is the living life-fountain from which flows the stream of humanity.  She who would pollute that stream by tobacco, poisonous drugs, or by germs that would shackle the unborn, is untrue to her sex and an enemy to the strength and perpetuity of the race.’

He said further, and I like to quote him on this:

‘She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who successfully rears a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters, whose influence will be felt through generations to come, whose immortal souls will exert an influence throughout the ages long after the paintings have faded and the books and statues have decayed or shall have been destroyed, she deserves the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God.  In her high duty of service to humanity, endowing with immortality eternal spirits, she is co-partner with the Creator Himself.

‘Motherhood is the one thing in all the world which most truly exemplifies the God-given virtues of creating and sacrificing.’

He says much more on that particular subject, and when he speaks of Chastity, and he loves to talk to young people of the Church and he is their hero and their idol, but he is not at all backward in speaking plainly, and frankly on the need for purity of thought, and word, and action.  He says ‘he who is unchaste in young manhood is untrue to a trust given to him by the parents of his girl, and she who is unchaste in maidenhood is untrue to her future husband, and lays the foundation in the home of unhappiness, suspicion, and discord.’

President McKay is a tall man who lives above the fog.  The words of Carl Sandburg, impressed me as I read them again a few days ago and they seem to be so appropriate and apply so completely to President McKay that I thought I would like to share those words with you.  Sandburg said, speaking of Lincoln, and I ask you again to remember as I read that this applies to David O. McKay:

‘…Here is a man who was as tall in character as he was physically.  He stands out, head and shoulders above the crowd, a measuring standard for manhood.

He was tall in humility.  When one of his generals insulted him and kept him waiting for several hours, he said:  ‘I would hold his horse, if he would only give us victory.’

President McKay has that kind of attitude toward his subordinates.  Strong in humility, never making any of his associates feel in any way inferior but always holding up to them an ideal.  Sandburg continues:

He was tall in tolerance.  It was Lincoln who uttered those immortal words;

‘With malice toward none, with charity for all.’

President McKay loves to quote that.

‘He was tall in justice.  He pardoned many soldiers.  ‘A boy’, he said, ‘should not 

be blamed if his legs are cowardly.’

I have heard President McKay refer to that sometimes when occasionally we have had before us a problem of taking disciplinary action, and he invariably tries to find some good cause for mitigating what might otherwise have been a severe judgment.

‘He was tall in humor.  Lincoln was big enough to laugh at himself.  When it was

reported that one of his cabinet members had called him a fool, Lincoln retorted:

He must be right — he is a very intelligent man.’

I have heard President McKay say things just like that.  I told him one time of an incident that happened in my young manhood and I bring it to you only that you may get his reaction to the incident.  I was a counselor to the Bishop at the time.  I was a young man, the Bishop was much older.  The other counselor was young, as I was, and there came before us a young woman who was accused of wrongdoing.  We heard the complaint, we heard her confession.  The Bishop asked her to go in the other room while we talked it over, and when she left he said:  ‘Brethren, what do you think we ought to do?’.  The first counselor said, ‘I move we cut her off the Church.’  I said, ‘I second the motion.’  The kind old Bishop said ‘Brethren, there is one thing for which I am profoundly grateful and that is God is an old man.  I am not going to cut her off the Church.  I am going out and bring her back.’  And he did just that.  And that young woman became the Stake President of the Relief Society up in Canada later on, to our chagrin, for if we had had our way, she would have been cast out of the Church.  When I told that to President McKay, he said ‘Brother Brown let that lesson guide your judgment day by day.  Remember that God our Father does not judge us until the end, and He gives us a chance to repent and come back.’

‘He was tall in faith.’  said Sandburg.  ‘In the dark days of war he said:

‘Let us have faith that right makes might, and, in that faith, let us, to the

end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.’

On the wall of history Lincoln has left us a mark to measure up to.’

And so has David O. McKay, and no man needs a blackboard and a chalk to see how tall he is as long as there is a man around that’s the kind of man the boy wants to be.  And that’s the message the President has left with us over and over again.  His words and his life proclaim the truth taught by Longfellow, one of his favorite poets.  May I pause for a moment to remind you that I mentioned his interest in literature, that he has lived and worked with, and read, and memorized from most of the great writers, poets and philosophers of all times.  He loves Carlisle, and Bobby Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Dickens and Longfellow, and Shakespeare, and frequently we find him quoting, even now, long passages from these authors from memory and without reference to notes.  This I have heard him quote quite often! 

‘Life is real!  Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.’

And then we say we think of him —

‘Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us 

Footprints in the sands of time;

Footprints, that, perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.’

We honor tonight, not only a great man, but a man whom God has honored.  And we delight to honor those God honors.  We sing and we feel as we sing We Thank Thee, O God, for the Prophet David O. McKay.  Let us heed his wise counsel, let us emulate his inspiring example, and let us perpetuate the immortal truths to which he dedicates his life.

God bless you, President McKay, you have the love, the prayers, the admiration of all the people in the Church and thousands upon thousands outside.  May his memory be blessed, and may God grant him life while life will be sweet to him and to Sister McKay, and may he help us to somehow measure up to the stature which we recognize as being the greatest of our time, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Brother Neil J. Flinders, Co-chairman of our President David O. McKay Honor Day will now make a presentation.


On behalf of all those present and the many thousands of others who join with us in the First Annual David O. McKay Honor Day, we have prepared this token of remembrance which is an engraved plaque with the inscription of the program that you received this evening engraved upon it.  In deference to his health, President McKay is not with us this evening, but by his request his son, Dr. Edward McKay, is present to accept this memento.

Dr. McKay, it is with a great deal of pleasure that we present to President and Sister McKay this token of remembrance by which they might remember this First Annual David O. McKay Honor Day, and we trust that you will convey to them the spirit of this evening and our love, gratitude and appreciation for the great example that they are to us.


Thank you, Mr. Flinders and Mr. Johnson, and all who are responsible for this plaque.  It states at the top ‘The First Annual David O. McKay Honor Day’ and on the left here it gives the program as it has been presented tonight, and in the right lower corner, it tells about the Annual David O. McKay Honor Day, how it was conceived and its purpose, and on the left it lists the co-chairmen, P. Wendel Johnson, Neil J. Flinders, the Committee members — H. Bartley Heiner, Nicholas Van Alfen, Ladd R. Cropper, Leslie J. Boothe, Boyd L. Eddins.

How President McKay would love to be here tonight.  How thrilled he would be to feel your warmth, to hear these tributes and to feel the depth of your love and affection.  If he were here, I am sure he would turn and look at the Choir, embrace them with a look of appreciation, and they would feel well paid for the many yours they have spent in preparing.

I have seen him deeply moved with a very slight compliment.  How deeply he would have been moved tonight in hearing these very remarkable tributes from these very capable men, this girl, and this very remarkable tribute by President Brown.  And he would look at you and you would know that he would feel that he has received a tribute from each of you be being here.

We took him home from the hospital today and when he arrived he embraced his sweetheart and she said ‘It is certainly nice to have you home,’ and he said, ‘I am returning your call Mrs. McKay’, and the talk was light but the tears in the he eyes of each of them showed the depths of the emotion that they felt at being reunited.

And then it would have been President McKay’s wish to have come up to Ogden and see this very fine display which was prepared by Sister Allen and the sisters of the Relief Society in Huntsville, and he would have been thrilled by it.  And he would have been so very happy to be here tonight.  When it was obvious that he could not be here and I asked him what he would like to say, he said, ‘Words cannot express the appreciation that I feel for these honors.’  And I said ‘If you don’t feel capable of expression how do you think I’ll feel standing there!’  So he sent a message which I should like to give to you.

‘As one recalls the cherished associations, the thrills and ecstasy of youth, followed by the hopes, aspirations, failures, partial successes of early manhood leading into responsibilities of advancing maturity one becomes aware that during his journey, whether in social relationships, educational efforts, mission experiences, business relationships, public responsibilities, through all activities, the source of the supreme joy in life, second only to the happiness of home and Loved Ones, is the companionship of friends and esteemed confidential associates!’ 

You people of Huntsville and Ogden, you men who are his associates know his love.

‘I sincerely wish I were more worthy of the honor you have thus bestowed upon me; and in wishing to be worthy of your esteem I find myself fully in accord with Portia’s feelings when Bassanio chose the leaden casket that contained her picture and won her fortune and love.  The princes of Morocco and Arragon had been rejected, but Bassanio stood victorious in possession not only of the dowry, but also with the love of Portia, as she said:

‘You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand,

Such as I am; though for myself alone

I would not be ambitious in my wish,

To wish myself much better; yet for you

I would be trebled twenty times myself;

A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times

More rich:

That only to stand high in your account,

I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends,

Exceed account.’

(Merchant of Venice Act III Sc. I.)

‘So she said with all the love in her heart, which she gave to Lord Bassanio.

‘So, as I receive this tribute from you, my friends, I say, with sincerity in my heart:  For you, I would be ‘trebled twenty times myself’, would be many times more capable to serve you.

‘God bless you fellow citizens, my brothers.  May we continue to keep the spirit of love and friendship as wholesome and sweet in our own associations with the business affairs and social affairs, in service to one another, that Ogden and Utah might in every way be an example to the whole world.  Thank you.  With gratitude and love in Sister McKay’s and my heart, I say, God bless you.’


After that tribute from President McKay, I think it is appropriate to deviate from the printed program for just two or three minutes to present an original musical composition that was written in honor of President McKay and is here presented publicly for the first time.  This number entitled ‘A Prophet Stood’ was composed and written by Sister Loraine S. Wilkinson of Bountiful, Utah and arranged by D. Carlisle Baker.

May I express appreciation for your presence here, for your spirit, for your feeling of devotion and love to President McKay and may we accept the advice that he has constantly given us, and as we leave for our homes to drive carefully and to exercise courtesy.

SONG – Ogden LDS Institute of Religion Chorale:  ‘A Prophet Stood’ by Mrs. Loraine S. Wilkinson, Bountiful, Utah.

A Prophet stood, a light around him shone,

And as he plead with us his countenance was beautiful.

A Prophet stood and asked to all our own

Ideals of the Gospel we be true.

He asked we praise the right, condemn the wrong,

For in the Gospel light we’ll find happiness.

A Prophet stood, a Prophet stood,

And asked that every day we live the Savior’s way.

A Prophet stood, we listened reverently,

And as he spoke to us he showed his love for everyone.

A Prophet stood and plead for harmony,

And asked that our Father’s will be done.

He asked we build our homes, so we may be

With those we hold so dear through eternity.

A Prophet stood, a Prophet stood,

And asked that every day we live the Savior’s way.

CLOSING SONG – Ogden LDS Institute of Religion Chorale: ‘The Lord’s Prayer’


Gracious God, our Father in Heaven, these exercises like one of our beautiful mountain sunsets, leaves an afterglow of love and warmth in our hearts — love for Thee, and love for our number one citizen, whom we honor this day and this evening.

We have seen most clearly the power of Thy love as it shines through the life and leadership of this great man.  We pray that this blessing might be given to leaders everywhere so that we might have righteousness in the home, order in the city, and peace in the nations, through the name of Christ our Lord, Amen.”

Fri., 9 Apr. 1965:

“Note by CM

On March 19, 1965, President Phil D. Jensen of the North Scottish Mission sent a letter to Secretary Clare Middlemiss stating that recently the building upon which was installed the plaque bearing the words ‘What E’Er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part’ was demolished.  Through the interest of the missionaries, the contractor was kind enough to save the stone for the Church.  President Jensen wrote for the purpose of ascertaining whether there would be any objection to having this plaque preserved on a suitable base at the mission headquarters where all the missionaries might observe the wording on the plaque.

This was taken up with President McKay by the secretary, and he was very pleased and interested to know that this plaque which had played such an important part in his first mission had been saved.  So he instructed the secretary to send a letter to President Jensen giving permission for him to have it preserved at mission headquarters.”

Tues., 20 July 1965:

Scottish Mission – Plaque Bearing the Words ‘What ‘Er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part’, now a Monument in Front of Mission Home in Edinburgh, Scotland

Brother Phil Jensen, recently released as President of the Scottish Mission, called on me at the apartment.  He has been transferred from the mission in Scotland to the California Mission because of the combining of the two missions in Scotland.  He showed me some colored slides of the monument that has been placed in front of the Scottish Mission Headquarters in Edinburgh.  This monument bears the plaque which I saw as a young missionary over the doorway of one of the homes on ‘back o’ Hill Road’ in Glasgow, Scotland.  Upon investigation I found that the plaque bore the words, ‘What ‘Er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part’, and took it as a direct message that I was a missionary and that I was to act well my part.  That home was torn down recently, and the missionaries got possession of the plaque, and it is now preserved in this monument.

President Jensen said he loved Scotland, and hated to leave that country; that it certainly grows on one.  I said that I knew just how he felt.

We talked for a few moments about the mission in Scotland, and Brother Jensen said that the work is progressing and that the members are loyal.

Brother Jensen had to leave to catch a plane, so our interview was short.

Following Brother Jensen’s departure, I felt tired and somewhat discouraged.”

Fri., 30 July 1965:

10:00 a.m.

Called my secretary, Clare, and asked her to have Brother Darcey Wright come over and drive me up to Huntsville.  Said that I wanted to get away for a while; that there are so many problems.

Note by CM

Later, Brother Wright reported to the secretary, that when President McKay arrived at the home in Huntsville, he went into the living room and sat down.  Brother Wright asked him if he wanted him to turn the television on, and President McKay said that he wanted to get away where he could think; that he didn’t want the television on.”

Fri., 24 Sept. 1965:

“8:00 to 9:20 a.m.

Special General Authorities Meeting – Building Committee Present Plans for New Program

Note by CM

Elder Theodore M. Burton Telephoned to Tell of an Experience at the Meeting

This afternoon, Elder Theodore M. Burton, Assistant to the Twelve, called the secretary, Clare Middlemiss, and said, ‘I have to tell you, and I want President McKay to know that I love him.  When he talked to us at our meeting today, I saw a halo of light around him.  I wanted to tell him about this following the meeting, but could not because of the tears I shed.’

Mon., 6 Dec. 1965:

“Weber County ‘Hall of Fame’ Ceremonies, held in the old Ogden Second Ward, 26th Street and Grant Avenue, Ogden, Utah, 10:00 a.m.

8:45 a.m.

Left the Hotel Utah for Ogden, Utah.  Sister McKay, Llewelyn, Lawrence, and Emma Rae accompanied me.  Lawrence drove the car.  The fog, which had hung over Salt Lake City for the past several days, was so thick that we could hardly see the road before us.  Sister McKay became frightened when we drove into the thickest part of it in North Salt Lake and wanted to turn back, saying, ‘We’ll never make it up there!’  I said, ‘No, we shall not turn back, when we get to Farmington, the fog will lift,’ and sure enough as we neared Farmington we could see the sun breaking through the fog, and from then on the sky was bright and clear.  However, we had had to drive so slowly most of the way up there that we were delayed in reaching the old Ogden Second Ward on 26th and Grant Avenue, which the Weber County Commissioners had chosen for the holding of their meeting.  Many tender memories flooded my mind as I entered the building, as it was there that I taught classes when I was a teacher and principal of the Weber Academy.  The chapel was crowded to capacity.  Many Ogden dignitaries, civil leaders, old friends, and members of the Church were present.

Sitting on the stand were President and Sister Joseph Fielding Smith, President and Sister Thorpe B. Isaacson, Stake Presidents of Ogden, County Commissioners Maurice Richards, Bud Favero, Elmer Carter, my secretary, Clare Middlemiss, and others.

There were no formal speeches.  Tributes were more or less impromptu as friends and associates were called upon.  Among those who spoke were:  President Joseph Fielding Smith, President Thorpe B. Isaacson of the First Presidency; Clare Middlemiss, my secretary; President William P. Miller, Weber College President; Bernie R. Diamond, Ogden City Council; Darrell Renstrom, Weber County Commissioner; Frank M. Browning, State Senator; Gordon Owen, KSL Radio executive; E.L. (Dick) Romney, former veteran coach at Utah State Agricultural College.  David Lawrence McKay, Llewelyn R. McKay, and Emma Rae McKay Ashton, our sons and daughter, were also called upon to make brief comments.

I was happy that my sisters, Jeannette, Anne, and Catherine, who were in the audience, were publicly acknowledged.

Telegrams and messages were received from the following were read:

President Lyndon B. Johnson

Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey

Governor Calvin L. Rampton, State of Utah

Jack Dempsey

U.S. Senator Frank E. Moss

Lawrence J. Burton, member of Congress.

Many other letters and messages were received.  (See following copies.)

President Johnson’s telegram read as follows:

‘Faith comes not by arguments, but by the examples of good which we see in the lives of men such as Dr. David O. McKay.  The genius of Dr. McKay resides in the warmth of his personality which lifts up the hopes of man and inspires us all.  His friends are blessed by knowing him.  You do yourselves an honor when you honor this man in the Weber County Hall of Fame.  The influence for good that he has done cannot be measured, but it is right that it is recognized.’

Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey’s telegram reads:

‘Congratulations to you, President McKay, on being named to the Weber County Hall of Fame.  This singular honor and tribute could not go to a more deserving leader of his church, his people, his state, and his nation.  I join with your many, many friends gathered there today, and with those throughout the nation in paying tribute to your deep understanding of the brotherhood of man and your desire for peace.  We salute you.’

President Smith, President Isaacson, and my secretary, Clare, paid touching tributes, as did the others who spoke.  (See newspaper clippings and copy of Clare’s)

It was with difficulty and a heart full of emotion that I stood before the group and expressed my gratitude and thanks for the honor that had been bestowed upon me.  I told them that although my legs are weak, my heart is still young, and that this occasion will ever be cherished as one of the choicest and most appreciated of my life.

Weber County Commissioner Bud Favero presented the ‘Hall of Fame’ plaque to me.  The plaque, along with my picture, will now hang in the County Commission Chambers.

It was a heart-warming occasion, and one I shall never forget.

Sister McKay, who had been honored by the Commissioners during the meeting with a beautiful corsage, and members of the family who were present, were thrilled and grateful for the honor that these dear friends and neighbors of Huntsville and Ogden Valley paid to us.

After shaking hands and greeting all who came up to us, we left for Salt Lake City.  The sun was shining until we reached Farmington, when we again entered the thick, heavy fog.  We were all grateful and thankful when we arrived safely at the Hotel Utah.  (See following newspaper clippings, etc., for further detail of this occasion.)

Note by CM

President McKay later wrote letters of appreciation to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Vice-President Hubert H. Humphrey, Governor Calvin L. Rampton, Jack Dempsey, and personally expressed appreciation to the Commissioners and friends in Ogden, and to President Smith and President Isaacson.  When he saw me on Wednesday, December 8, 1965, he told me that he was proud of me and the talk I delivered on that occasion.

Monday, December 6, 1965

Tribute paid by Clare Middlemiss, secretary to President David O. McKay, at a meeting sponsored by the Weber County Commissioners, held in the Ogden Second Ward, Monday, December 6, 1965, at 10 a.m., at which time President McKay was presented with the Hall of Fame Award.

President McKay:  It is a joy and an honor to be here this morning to join with the Weber County Commissioners and others in paying honor and tribute to you.

It is a humbling experience to have the privilege of serving as your secretary, as I realize that you are venerated and loved by millions in the Church as well as by thousands of others who are not members of the Church.

It seems to me that you have never stood on a higher plateau of success than you do right now.  Letters are received at the office every day from members of the Church and friends from all over the world, expressing their love, confidence, and respect for you.  It is heartwarming to read what they say to you, how you have affected their lives and given them a desire to strive to be truer members of the Church and better citizens.  You will probably never know, at least in this life, how many millions of lives you have affected.

President McKay’s associates of the General Authorities have often privately and publicly paid tribute to him.  Just the other day when President McKay unexpectedly appeared at an important meeting, one of them said to me following the meeting:

‘The whole room brightens up when he enters — things take on a different meaning — there is such a difference when he is there!’

The great love the General Authorities showed for him during his recent illness was heart-warming indeed.

President McKay has known and won the respect of four Presidents of the United States.  Among his numerous scrap books are four large volumes containing a record of visits and tributes from hundreds of distinguished persons from all over the world who have called at the office and have been graciously and cordially received by President McKay.

These world-renowned men have been profoundly impressed by President McKay’s sincerity, his friendliness, his nobility of soul, and the spirituality which emanates from him.

The magnetism of his personality draws even strangers to him.  About a month ago (September 23, 1965) Admiral James J. Kelly, Chief of Chaplains of the United States Navy, made a courtesy visit to the President.

As he was leaving the apartment, he stated to the person with him who planned to take him to several Church points of interest, ‘If you were to take me to the plane right now, and I were to go back home without seeing anything else, the time and effort I have spent in getting here would have been worth it only to have met President McKay, who certainly is one of the most spiritual leaders in America today.’

I think Dr. Norman Vincent Peale paid a beautiful tribute to President McKay in a public address just last month, wherein he said:

‘Sometime ago I was received by the President of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City.  President McKay, at the age of ninety-two, is spiritual leader of over two million people.  His mind is alert and keen, and there is about him an INDEFINABLE SWEETNESS — almost, I would say a SAINTLINESS.  As I took leave of him, after a half hour of gay repartee and delightful conversation, I asked him if he would offer a prayer.

‘He came to his feet slowly, due to the infirmity of his years, put his arm through mine, and talked to the Lord in a way most lovely and unforgettable.  He talked about the sweetness, as he put it, of friendship in Christ.  I shall ALWAYS remember that prayer.’

Later, Dr. Peale told a Mormon friend about his visit to President McKay, and before that friend left him, Dr. Peale offered a word of prayer, in which he said:

‘Father in Heaven, please bless President David O. McKay.  Put your arm around him and restore him to health.  Father, I know he is a man of God, for I have felt that I WAS IN THY PRESENCE when I was in his presence.’  (Letter from T.B. Woodbury, November 17, 1965.)

I could go on for a long time telling you of these tributes, of how hard-headed businessmen of great corporations have left President McKay’s office with tears in their eyes, some of whom have declared, ‘HE IS SURELY A PROPHET,’ OR ‘HE IS CERTAINLY A MAN OF GOD.’

With all these honors, with all the admiration and love of fellow associates, members of the Church, and distinguished persons from all over the world, President McKay remains the sweet, lovable character that he is, and it seems to me that he becomes more Christlike and humble each day.  

Often people ask what impresses me the most about President McKay.  Well, it is almost impossible to find words to portray the depth and breadth of his lofty character.  As one writer put it — ‘HE LIVES ABOVE THE FOG.’  His benevolent kindliness and warm sympathy towards those who are suffering, or who are bereaved, his sincerity and friendliness, his keen interest and trust in people, and love for children are dominant characteristics.

Time will not permit me to enumerate the unnumbered acts of kindness performed by this noble soul day after day, month after month, year after year.  Through the years, long before many of us had awakened, he was at the office, and had accomplished a day’s work before most of us had arrived.  Even now, his days are filled with meetings and consultations where important decisions must be made, taxing his nervous energy to the limit.  Then in the evening, for many years, he visited hospitals, administered to the sick, performed marriages for the young people, spoke at meetings or prepared sermons for the countless speaking appointments scheduled for months ahead.

He has a delightful sense of humor.  When he is receiving distinguished persons, one will often hear a burst of hearty laughter coming from the conference room.  He has no doubt told them a joke probably in Scottish dialect.

President McKay puts himself in tune with life, and accepts whatever comes with good grace.  I cannot remember ever hearing a complaint from him.  If he is ill or feeling out of sorts, no one knows about it; if he is pressed from every side with telephone calls, consultations, long meetings, irritating problems and interruptions, there is a calmness about him that no one would ever suspect that his nerves might be on edge or that he is pressed for time.

His qualities of humanity and leadership, his instinctive ability to understand the other person’s viewpoint, his belief in the sacredness and importance of each individual are well known.  His love of life, his love for family, associates, and friends touch one’s soul.

I honor and respect President McKay for his devotion to the great responsibilities that have been his through the years, for the service he has rendered and is still rendering to us as members of the Church; for his inspiration to all who have come under his influence.

He is a shining example.  He has a great heart, a deep love for the souls of men.  His earnest desire is to help them.  He is a true Prophet of God!

It has been a rare opportunity and privilege to have been associated with him these many years.

I thank the Commissioners, and all of you for the opportunity of participating in this tribute to President McKay.”

Tues., 20 Dec. 1966:

New Book – ‘Highlights in the Life of President David O. McKay’ by Mrs. Joseph R. Morrell (Jeanette McKay Morrell)

Clare gave me one of the first copies of my sister, Jeanette’s, new book on my life.  She read to me the Preface of the book written by my sister Jeanette as follows:

‘Few men in this dispensation have had so profound an effect on the growth and progress of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as has President David O. McKay.

Since he became President of the Church in 1951, President McKay has effectively led the dynamic growth of the Kingdom of God on earth.  Through increased missionary efforts directed by him, the membership of the Church has more than doubled.  There has been a rapid increase in wards, stakes, branches, and missions.  Thousands of new chapels and five new Temples have been erected.  A great program of home teaching and family home evenings has been instituted, and correlated Priesthood programs have been taught wherever units of the Church are established.

Even in his ninety-fourth year, President McKay is still concerned with the growth and development of the members of the Church, and in preparing them for the responsibilities and challenges which he sees ahead for the Church and the world.  His vision extends far beyond today’s needs, though he gives daily guidance and direction for the Church’s immediate problems.  His counsel, his concern, and his desire is for continued growth through effective development of the individual testimonies of all members of the Church.

As his sister, I have seen this great man grow to the full stature of a Prophet of God.  I have been close to him in family problems.  I attended the University of Utah while he was also a student there.  I taught at the Weber Stake Academy while he was its principal.  I also served on the Weber Stake Sunday School board while he was in the superintendency.  I have seen him overcome worldly things to fulfill the full measure of his creation.  I have shared many of his joys and sorrows, and have known part of the weight that he has borne so well as a leader among his people.

Because I know he is a powerful witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ, and is a true emissary of the Living God, it has been my desire to share with others some highlights in my brother’s life as I have viewed it.

This book, ‘Highlights In The Life of President David O. McKay’, is by no means a complete biography.  Such a presentation would require many volumes, and is yet to be written.  This is just as the title says — some of the highlights in the life of a great man.

I offer it to the world as my own testimony that the Spirit of God has moved upon President McKay and enabled him to lead the only true and living Church upon the face of the earth.

Throughout his ministry, President McKay has testified to all men everywhere that only through obedience to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ can this world know peace and happiness.  It is my profound desire that this sketch of his life and testimony may be an inspiration to all who read it to forsake the things of the world and seek first the Kingdom of God.

Jeanette McKay Morrell

Ogden, Utah

December, 1966.’

The tears cam rolling down my cheeks as Clare read this tribute by my loyal sister.

She then read the acknowledgments in the book as follows:

‘To my dear husband, Dr. Joseph R. Morrell, for encouragement and valuable assistance during the compiling of this biography.

To Miss Clare Middlemiss for her generosity in making available her collection of more than two hundred volumes of diaries, recorded during her thirty-one years as President McKay’s secretary.

To Alva H. Parry and William James Mortimer of Deseret Book Company for their helpful suggestions in editing and arranging the material in this volume.

To all who have contributed in any way to the material use in this brief history of one whose life and accomplishments could fill many volumes, I express deep appreciation.’

Clare said that she had been glad to furnish most of the material for the book to Sister Morrell as she had always been very nice to her.

I told Clare that so far as my life’s work is concerned, there would be hardly one word written if it had not been for her; that she had really ‘saved’ my life in that regard.  (See newspaper review following.)”

Tues., 28 Feb. 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Met with the First Presidency.  Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith were present.  Some of the matters discussed were:

Sunday School – Setting apart of David Lawrence McKay as General Superintendent

It was with great emotion and thankfulness to the Lord that I laid my hands upon the head of my son David Lawrence and set him apart as General Superintendent of the Sunday Schools of the Church.  My Counselors, Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith, assisted me in this setting apart.  A copy of the blessing which I gave to Lawrence follows.

The Sunday Schools of the Church are dear to my heart, and a flood of memories came to my mind as I recalled the time when President Joseph F. Smith set me apart as the General Superintendent.  I had many wonderful years working in the Sunday Schools, and many noble and loyal men and women were associated with me in this great cause.

Tuesday, February 28, 1967

February 28, 1967

A blessing upon the head of Elder David Lawrence McKay by President David O. McKay, assisted by his counselors, Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner and Joseph Fielding Smith, setting him apart as General Superintendent of the Sunday Schools of the Church.

Lawrence McKay, we lay our hands upon your head and set you apart as the General Superintendent of the Sunday Schools of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and confer upon you every blessing associated with this high and holy calling.

We bless you with the spirit of this calling.  Our Father in Heaven is very much pleased, and we are all pleased, that you have been given this holy position in the Church.  All the brethren who have held it since the time of President Joseph Smith have served gloriously.  It is a great privilege to be associated in this work and sharing this opportunity with those who have preceded you.  Our Father in Heaven, we ask thee to bless this, they servant, that he may continue to give all his energy and activity in performing the duties of the superintendent of the Sunday Schools of this Church.  We bless you, dear son and brother, that you may realize the responsibilities involved in carrying out the duties that are incumbent upon you in this position, that you will feel the spirit and dignity associated with the superintendency of the Sunday Schools of the Church.  As the spirit of superintendency comes upon you may you discharge the duties as the Lord would have you do.

We bless you that the spirit of superintendency may be yours in rich abundance, and as you discharge your responsibilities may you have the confidence of the men and women associated with you in connection with this calling.  We bless you that this superintendency will be the responsibility not only of yourself but of the others who will be associated with you in this great superintendency.

Our Father in Heaven, may thy spirit give this young man wonderful clarity in discharging the duties of this superintendency, that he may indeed be blessed with thy guidance and with revelations that pertain to the superintendency of the Sunday School.  May he realize the responsibility that he carries with those associated with him in performing this service.  May the Lord guide you not only in your disposition but may you listen to his voice in matters pertaining to the superintendency of the Sunday Schools of the Church.

We confer upon you this superintendency and bless you with it in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, by virtue of the holy priesthood.  Even so.  Amen.

David O. McKay

Fri., 9 June 1967:

Note by CM

Tribute to President McKay and the Tabernacle Choir by Mr. Eugene Ormandy, one of the World’s Most Celebrated Music Directors and Conductors.

Eugene Ormandy, who is here in Salt Lake City with the Philadelphia Orchestra to make some recordings with the Tabernacle Choir and also to give one concert, paid the following compliment to the Tabernacle Choir before a large audience in the Tabernacle at the end of a tumultuous ovation for Maestro Ormandy and its magnificent orchestra, one of the world’s greatest.  After expressing his appreciation for the exciting standing ovation, Mr. Ormandy told of their fourteen hours of recording and their inspirational association with the Choir, with Isaac M. Stewart, its President, and with Richard P. Condie, its Conductor.  And then he gave his wonderful compliment to the Choir:  ‘We are better people for having been with your marvelous and sincere Tabernacle Choir yesterday and today.’

Tribute to President McKay

He then repeated his impressive statement about President McKay which he had made to the Music Department representative of the Deseret News.  After paying a glowing tribute to Utah and the Church, with which he is familiar, he said:

‘All of this, of course, stems from one of the greatest human beings I have ever had the honor to meet, the head of your Church, President David O. McKay.  We were in his presence a few times, including the last time we were here.  We felt very humble.  He is a very great man, and it is unbelievable that at nearly ninety-four, he still has his brilliance and is so alert, and is able to run this great Church of yours as he does.  May he live to be even much, much older!’  (See newspaper clipping following.)”

Mon., 21 Aug., 1967:

“11:15 a.m. 

My secretary, Clare, came over at my request, and took up letters and other office items.

October Conference 

Clare asked me if I intended to go on with the preparations of the October Conference, and I told her that I intended to go on as usual; that she is to gather material for my talks, and to start preparations for the programs for the meetings. I also said that I had an appointment to announce to the Brethren which will probably startle them; but that I am certain of my course.

After listening and taking instructions, Clare said to me, “President McKay, you are closer to the Lord than you ever have been, aren’t you?” I nodded my head in the affirmative. She then said, “I feel your spirituality more than ever; the Lord knew what was best when He revealed in Brigham Young’s days that the President of the Quorum of the Twelve is to be the President of the Church, for he is the one who is schooled, tried, and proven through the years; and though his body may become weakened with age, he is more susceptible to the spirit than anyone else.”

I said, “Yes, the Lord knows, and He is near me.”

Thur., 21 Dec., 1967:

“10:00 a. m.

Held a meeting with Presidents Tanner and Smith and Elder Alvin R. Dyer. President Brown is at Palm Springs, California for the Christmas holidays. Some of the matters discussed were:

Note by CM 

Tribute to President McKay 

In extending Christmas greetings to Chef Gerard of the Hotel Utah today, and handing to him an autographed book of President McKay’s life by his sister, Mr. Jeanette McKay Morrell, the Chef said:

“You know, I have said this before many times, and I’ll say it again. I have met and talked to every President of the United States from Hoover through Kennedy, and President McKay is greater than any of them. They cannot match him, nor can the kings, queens, and other royalty whom I have met aboard the large steamers when I was working as a chef for the big liners — I don’t know any man in your Church who can come up to his stature; I do not know what your Church will do without him.””

Sat. 5 Oct., 1968:

(See President Dyer’s Minutes following for details)”

President McKay’s Favorite Song Sung by Tabernacle Choir Male Chorus

Following the session, which was concluded by the Tabernacle Male Chorus singing the song, “I Need Thee Every Hour”, I turned to Brother Condie to congratulate him on the beautiful rendition of this number. I found him to be in tears and he said to me, “Oh, President Dyer, isn’t it wonderful.” Then I glanced at other members of the Male Chorus and saw many of them in tears. Richard Condie then congratulated me on the manner in which the meeting was conducted and also Alexander Schreiner. Brother Condie said that my voice was musical and seemed to blend in with the atmosphere of the meeting. This was also said by Brother Schreiner. Of course I do not completely understand what they meant, not being much of a musician, but I was grateful for their kind remarks. 

Wed., 23 Oct., 1968:



The Church has become world-wide through the following:

a. Visits to every foreign mission, expanding the work of the Church; meeting leaders of nations, ambassadors, and other government officials, together with personally greeting all members of the Church and investigators; holding meetings in every mission–stimulating the work of the local membership and missionaries.

b. Sending of the Tabernacle Choir on national and world concert tours.

c. Increased radio, television, and short-wave broadcasts of General Conferences and special programs throughout the world.

d. Construction of new chapels, schools, and seminaries world-wide.

e. Erection of three new temples in foreign lands, in addition to two new temples in the United States, with two more under construction.

f. The challenge that every member of the Church be a missionary–teaching friends and neighbors the Gospel.

g. Strengthening the faith of members of the Church throughout the world with the establishment of a weekly “family home evening” in every home, where the father, mother, and children participate in studying the Gospel and bringing closer ties between parents and children.


A better understanding of the beliefs and purposes of the Church through world-wide contacts as explained in question number one.


a. At Ninety-five, after 80 years of work in the Church and travels among people of all lands, never before have I had such peace and satisfaction and LOVE for all God’s children.

My one great desire is that they may have peace and happiness in this world and the world to come.

b. Another important moment came when I received a call from the Church to follow in my father’s footsteps and go as a missionary to Scotland to teach the beliefs and principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

c. Of later years, aside from the great happiness of having my life’s companion by my side for 68 years, and the success and love of my six living children, moments of greatest happiness have come when I have seen what the Gospel has done for our people — and especially for the accomplishments and success of our young people as they faithfully adhere to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


I am most grateful for the training of a noble father and an ever-loving, watchful mother who set me on the right path from childhood. Because of following their teachings, and the teachings of the Church, I believe I would not have done things differently.”

Thurs., Sept. 4, 1969:

“Note by CM:  Items read by President McKay from Minutes of the Temple Council Meeting held today:

David O. McKay Hospital at Ogden–Question of Heroic Statue of President McKay

At the meeting of the Council of the Twelve held in the Salt Lake Temple today, President Brown called attention to a letter from Elder Lynn S. Richards, 1st Superintendent of the General Sunday School Board, stating that the General Sunday School Board recommend the erection of a statue to President McKay in front of the main building of the David O. McKay Hospital in Ogden which statue would cost about $45,000.  They say that the Sunday School Board has enough money on hand to build it, and that they would also invite the children of the Church to make contributions.  In discussing the matter, the brethren questioned the advisability of erecting the proposed statue.  The thought was expressed that we are perhaps already building too many statues around our buildings.  The wondered if a fnie painting inside the building might not be more appropriate.  (A painting of the President has already been donated to the hospital by Everett Thorpe, portrait artist of the Utah State University.)

Upon motion of Elder Benson, duly seconded and unanimously approved, it became the sense of the meeting that we recommend a painting rather than a statue.

Building Committee–Re: Heroic Statue of President McKay

Upon learning of the above decision, Elder Mark Garff stated that he is going to look into this matter.  He knows of no statues that are being built around our buildings.  Elder Garff said a place has been mapped out on the plans for this statue.

Secretary Clare Middlemiss said that inasmuch as President McKay has devoted many years of his life to the Sunday School children, and further the fact that he is such a ‘light’ and ‘inspiration’ to the youth of the Church, that it would be a wonderful thing to have the heroic figure of this man and Prophet, just as we have Karl Maeser at the BYU, Brigham Young on South Temple, and the Prophet and his brother Hyrum and others on Temple Square; that we do not worship these statues, but just remember and draw inspiration from what they are representative of doing.  Brother Garff agreed, and said he knew President Bott of Ogden and the people up there want it.