Don McKinley lives in MIssion Viejo with Peggy, his wife of 37 years. The McKinleys are members of the Altisima Ward. Read on to find out more about this man's remarkable life.
What are you most proud of?
My wife. She’s an angel. Our friends had been trying to get us together for over a year but we both resisted because neither of us were looking for a connection. I was over there helping them get together their tax return and they were watching Peggy’s little girl. They asked me to stay to dinner and when she came to pick up her daughter, they asked her to stay to dinner. She agreed. Little did she know that they had already asked me, and I didn’t know that they had asked her. When we sat down at the table we knew we’d been had. She was so pretty I wouldn’t look at her all the way through dinner.
They went to see a movie after dinner, then went dancing, then sat in the car in her driveway talking until four o’clock in the morning. When she went in, she told her parents, "I’m going to marry that man.” Six weeks later, Don proposed, and six weeks after that they were married.
What did you do professionally?
What didn't I do? I‘d go into corporations, into senior management and then talk about increasing productivity and personal effectiveness. My wife and I used to teach about relationships, both marriage and regular relationships. My favorite job was teaching. I was born in July. That makes me a Leo. Leos love to be on the stage. That explains a lot about my resume. I’m most proud of the ten books I wrote, mostly about business.
Don worked as an accountant, financial adviser, magician, corporate trainer, industrial psychologist, among other things.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
That I studied in the Catholic seminary to be a priest.
Don started looking for a church when he was fourteen. His mom told him that was fine but that there were only two churches she didn't want him to join: the Catholics and the Mormons. He tried other churches but it wasn't until he found the Catholic church that he felt like it was filling a need for him. Soon he decided he wanted to join the Jesuit order and become a priest. He wanted to attend their seminary in San Francisco but he needed to finish his service in the Navy first. He was stationed in Memphis, Tennessee and for two years he attended the Catholic seminary there at night and on the weekends. There he learned Hebrew, Greek, and other languages as he studied. But he had always liked his Mormon friends in high school, how they were clean guys, never using bad language or telling bad jokes. When one of them was sent to nearby Louisville, KY on a mission, the friend invited him to come visit him. Don spent the weekend in the mission home, watching the group of elders when they first arrived, preparing to go out and begin teaching. At the end of his stay, he was invited to their testimony meeting. One of the elders who had been asked to speak stood and said he would be giving his time to their visitor to share his testimony. Don was scared, but he did it. When he sat down, the mission president told him that he'd had a revelation that Don would one day join the church. A few years later after a friend insisted that he read a couple of books including A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards, Don then sought out the Book of Mormon, which he read. Sure enough, he was converted and joined the Church.
What has been your favorite calling at church?
I was a seminary teacher for fourteen years. I loved working with the youth.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Going to the temple
What is something you think people spend too much time worrying about?
People worry too much about what other people think. Worry about living a Christ-like life.
Share some of the wisdom you've learned in your life.
One of the most important things to learn is how to treat your wife. The second is that when I was about 14 I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in a lifetime. It gave me a list of goals for me to achieve. And I’ve accomplished almost all of them. I haven’t composed a piece of music. —Yet. And I haven’t seen the Pope. But I can skip that one.
I’ve always regretted that I didn’t get my Eagle (in Scouting), But I’m a commissioner now for the Scouts. It’s not a church calling. It’s for the county. And they have a program where you can get your bachelors and then your masters and then your doctorate. And I’m working on my doctorate now! I’m still working, studying, trying to grow.