Oscar Ammon Kirkham , of the First Council of the
Seventy and executive secretary of the Y. M. M. I. A. for many years, was
born Jan. 22, 1880, in Lehi, Utah, the fourth child of nine born to James
Kirkham and Martha Mercer.
He was baptized Jan. 1, 1888, and filled a mission
to Germany in 1900-1903.
Upon his return he married on May 24, 1905 in the
Salt Lake Temple Miss Josephine Murdock. She would bless Elder Kirkham
with nine children.
Elder Kirkham was ordained a Seventy February 26,
1905 by Joseph W. McMurrin.
He graduated from the Brigham Young University in
Provo, Utah, then studied music in Berlin, Germany and taught school in
the Latter-day Saints University.
He was Scout Executive of Region 12, Boy Scouts of
America. During the International Boy Scout Jamboree, held at Artowe Park,
Birkenhead, England, in 1929, he was a member of the national staff, was
general morale officer and member of the program committee, and had charge
of the religious exercises of the American scouts and assisted in the general
supervision of the American contingent.
On October 5, 1941 Elder Kirkham was sustained to
the First Council of the Seventy at the age of sixty one He was set apart
by President Heber J. Grant.
In 1953 Elder Kirkham spoke in General Conference
of the importance of our youth, "As youth goes, so will civilization go.
Thus we must safeguard their future with noble example on the part of worthy
parents and leadership, with devoted personal attention, then our civilization
will continue to progress."
President Kirkham continued to serve in the First
Council of the Seventy until his death March 10, 1958 in Salt Lake City,
Utah. Sister Kirkham's death was mentioned in the Statistical Report for 1976.
Some years later Elder Cree-L
Kofford of the Seventy spoke of President Kirkham: "Oscar Kirkham was
one of the great men of the Church and among the Church's most respected
Scouters. He served in the First Council of the Seventy and was a significant
presence wherever he went. Often in meetings he would rise to a "point
of personal privilege" and then, when recognized, would proceed to say
something good about someone. Near the end of his life, he spoke briefly
at Brigham Young University on the theme "say the good word." On the morning
that Elder Kirkham died, Elder Marion D. Hanks was
invited to the Kirkham family home. There he was handed a small, inexpensive notebook in which
Elder Kirkham had kept his notes. The last two entries were: "Say the good
word" and "Your name is safe in our home" (see Marion
D. Hanks, foreword to Say the Good Word, by Oscar A. Kirkham ,