The year 1850 brought the conversion of President David O. McKay’s paternal grandparents, in Scotland, and his maternal grandparents, in Wales, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President McKay served as the ninth president of the church from 1951 to early 1970. His mother’s birth home in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, still stands with a historical plaque attached to it.
David O. (1873-1970) was born and raised in Huntsville, Weber County. That family home still stands. David was ordained a deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood at age 12. After completing the eighth grade in Huntsville, he attended Weber Stake Academy in Ogden. This institution was one of more than 20 such academies established by the church to educate and build the faith of the youths and young adults who enrolled. In 1933, the academy became a state-supported two-year college. In 1947, the campus moved from downtown Ogden to its present site on Harrison Boulevard in Ogden.
Blessed with a financial gift from their grandmother, David and three siblings were able to attend the University of Utah. In June 1897, he graduated from there as class president and valedictorian. A job offer quickly came but it was declined because of a call to serve a mission in Great Britain.
Missionary work brought discouragement at times. While in Stirling, Scotland, Elder McKay saw a plaque that read, “Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.” This message affected him deeply for the better. While attending a meeting in Glasgow, a mission leader prophesied that Elder McKay would “yet sit in the leading councils of the Church” (see James B. Allen's contribution in "The Presidents of the Church" edited by Leonard J. Arrington, p. 283).