K. Gunn McKay

Koln Gunn McKay (February 23, 1925 – October 6, 2000) was an American politician who represented the state of Utah. He served from January 3, 1971 to January 3, 1981, beginning in the ninety-second Congress and in four succeeding congresses.

K. Gunn McKay
K. Gunn McKay.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1971 – January 3, 1981
Preceded byLaurence J. Burton
Succeeded byJames V. Hansen
Member of the Utah House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born(1925-02-23)February 23, 1925
Ogden, Utah
DiedOctober 6, 2000(2000-10-06) (aged 75)
Huntsville, Utah
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Donna Biesinger
Alma materUtah State University
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/serviceFlag of the United States Coast Guard.svg United States Coast Guard
Years of service1943–1946
Battles/warsWorld War II


McKay was born in Ogden, Weber County, Utah. He was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). His brother Monroe G. McKay would become a judge of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1977,[1] and he was a cousin of David O. McKay, the LDS Church president from 1951 to 1970.[2]

McKay served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, and was later an LDS missionary in England. Afterward, he worked as a farmer, businessman and high school history teacher. Having attended the Weber County public schools, McKay studied at Weber State College in Ogden and Utah State University in Logan, graduating in education in 1962.[3]

McKay married Donna Biesinger in 1950 and they had ten children.[3]


McKay began his political career in the Utah House of Representatives in 1962, completing two terms. He served on prominent house committees including the legislative council, Utah Long Range Goals and Planning Committee, and the Utah Government Reorganization Committee. McKay was appointed as administrative assistant to Utah Governor Cal Rampton, a fellow Democrat, between 1967 and 1970.

Utahns in the state's 1st District elected McKay as a Democrat to the Ninety-second Congress in 1971, and he served in four succeeding Congresses. During his political career, McKay was a strong advocate of government development in Utah. As chairman of the Military Construction Subcommittee, McKay reopened Utah’s Minuteman Missile production line, secured the F-16 fighter mission for Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and appropriated funding to increase security at Tooele, Utah’s nerve gas storage facility.

McKay also worked to ensure protection for Utah’s natural resources, securing funding that further developed Capitol Reef National Park, Glen Canyon, Arches, and Zion National Parks. He also drafted legislation on Utah’s Lone Peak Wilderness Area and on the Clean Air Act.

However, as the Republican party made significant advances in western politics during the Ronald Reagan landslide, McKay lost in his bid for a 6th term to Republican James V. Hansen in 1980. He ran twice to reclaim is seat in 1986 and 1988 but was defeated both times.[4][5]

Church serviceEdit

An active leader in the LDS Church, McKay served as president of the Ogden Stake, between 1967 and 1970. He also served as president of the Edinburgh Scotland Mission of the LDS Church between 1981 and 1984. He and his wife later served a two-year mission to Kenya and another two-year mission to Malaysia. While in Pakistan on yet another mission, McKay returned home early due to illness.[6]


McKay died in Huntsville, Utah at the age of 75, from complications of mesothelioma.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Monroe G. McKay". NNDB. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  2. ^ Johnston, Jerry (October 11, 2000). "McKay had 'common touch'". Deseret News. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  3. ^ a b "Gunn McKay praised for long service". Deseret News. October 8, 2000. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  4. ^ "Groups Fined for Illegal Contributions". Deseret News. 1994-07-15.
  5. ^ "The Elections: West; Utah-Bush". New York Times. 1988-11-10.
  6. ^ "The Papers Congressman K. Gunn McKay". Manuscript Registers. Utah State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives. Archived from the original on 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2009-11-19.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Laurence J. Burton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
James V. Hansen