Oscar W. McConkie Jr.
Oscar W. McConkie Jr. was a lawyer who co-formed Kirton McConkie, the firm which is legal counsel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He performed international work to help the Church be recognized and was key for recognition in Zaire in 1986. He served in the Church in various positions, including president of the Arizona Tempe Mission, Regional Representative of the Twelve, stake president, bishop, and patriarch.
He was born on May 26, 1926, in Monticello, Utah. He lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while his father completed his law degree, but grew up primarily in Salt Lake City. He studied at the University of New Mexico from 1944 to 1946 and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Utah. He also held a juris doctorate degree from the university. He taught business law at Stevens-Heneger College from 1952 to 1967 and was the county attorney for Summit County, Utah, from 1959 to 1963. He was a member of the Utah House of Representatives from 1955 to 1957. He was elected president of the senate during his first term.
His nephew James W. McConkie said of him, “He was a defender of the faith. He was a lawyer who advocated for the ‘Kingdom of God’ in Utah and throughout the world. He believed in programs and policies that were inclusive and designed to help the less fortunate. He was a veteran of World War II.” “When he spoke, people listened.” Jim McConkie’s father died when he was a seven-year-old boy and McConkie became a second father to him.
McConkie was a Democrat, and in 1960, was “Utah’s point man” for John F. Kennedy’s successful presidential campaign. When Kennedy returned to Utah as president in September 1963, McConkie helped him craft words that would connect with members of the Church of Jesus Christ.
McConkie served as chairman of the Utah state Board of Education from 1982 to 1984. He was chair of the Governor’s Committee on Education from 1983 to 1985.
He authored three textbooks for the Church of Jesus Christ, which were published in a dozen languages. He also authored three other Church-centered books and other dissertations.
McConkie and his wife, Judith, were the parents of eight children. He died on November 2, 2020, from COVID-19 complications. He was 94 years old.