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March 3, 2021

Prominent Utah legal figure and leader Oscar W. McConkie Jr. dies at 94

SALT LAKE CITY — Oscar W. McConkie Jr., a founding member of legal firm Kirton McConkie, died on Nov. 2 from cancer and complications of COVID-19, according to his obituary. He was 94.

McConkie was one of the original founders in a firm that has represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in many matters, including in one case that led to a broadening of the clergy-penitent privilege in Utah.

“The law for Oscar was about justice, fairness, and peace, and especially about protecting the spaces where people find life’s deepest meaning. He took me under his wing early in my career, though more as a friend than a legal mentor. He taught me about faith and family, about love and loyalty, and about the choice to live in joy and gratitude despite life’s travails,” said Alexander Dushku, a Kirton McConkie shareholder, in a statement on the firm’s website.

According to the statement from Kirton McConkie, from 1955 to 1957 McConkie served as a member of the Utah House of Representatives, where he was elected president of the Utah State Senate during his first term in office. Following his time in office, McConkie served as the county attorney for Summit County from 1959 to 1963. McConkie became a prominent Utah Democrat, much like his father who attempted to become the Democratic candidate for governor in 1940; Oscar Jr. became the Utah point man for John F. Kennedy’s successful presidential campaign in 1960.

McConkie served a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy for two years during World War II. Following his service, McConkie graduated from the University of Utah in 1949 in political science and received his Juris Doctor degree from the U. of U. College of Law in 1952. Following his graduation, McConkie practiced law with his father, Oscar W. McConkie Sr., who served as a former Utah District Court Judge, and his older brother F. Brinton McConkie under the firm name of McConkie & McConkie. Another member of the prominent family, his older brother, Bruce R. McConkie, was a Latter-day Saint apostle.

Additionally, Oscar McConkie Jr. was president of the Salt Lake City School Board and from 1982-84, he was chair of the Utah State Board of Education, said the statement.

McConkie is survived by his wife, Judy, and by their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Ashley Fredde

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