Oscar W. McConkie, Jr. Remembered
It is with great sadness we announce the passing of one of the original founding partners of Kirton McConkie, Oscar W. McConkie Jr. He passed away on the morning of November 2, 2020, at the age of 94. Our heartfelt condolences to the McConkie family for the loss of their beloved husband and father.
Oscar Jr. lived an incredible life and will forever be remembered for his kind personality and his highly respected, successful legal career. Born in 1926, Oscar Jr. graduated from The University of Utah in 1949 in Political Science and received his Juris Doctorate from The University of Utah College of Law in 1952. After graduation, he practiced law with his father Oscar W. McConkie Sr. (a former Utah District Court Judge) and his older brother F. Brinton McConkie under the name McConkie & McConkie. Oscar Jr. represented many high-profile cases for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the case that led to an expanding of the clergy-penitent privilege in Utah.
“Oscar had such a wealth of experience and constantly thought of novel ways to resolve seemingly intractable problems. He was great to teach about tending to a client's needs from all angles and to never forget the client's interests and concerns. He helped me to understand that sometimes knowing the right person to approach and the right person to plead your cause was as important as the message. How we did our job was as important as what we did. His critical role in founding our firm, tending to its major client, and helping the next generation to continue the legacy that he and Bill [Bill Kirton] built cannot be overstated,” said Randy T. Austin, Shareholder at Kirton McConkie who had the privilege of working with Oscar Jr.
In addition to Oscar Jr.’s many high-profile cases, he was the County Attorney for Summit County from 1959-1963 and like his father, became a prominent political figure in Utah as a member of the Utah House of Representatives and was eventually elected as President of the Utah State Senate. In 1960, Oscar Jr. became the main Utah contact for John F. Kennedy’s Presidential campaign and served a brief stint as acting Governor of Utah between 1965 and 1966.
Oscar Jr. was passionate about wanting to improve his community. As president of the Salt Lake City School Board and during his time as chair of the Utah State Board of Education, Oscar Jr. combined his passions as an academic and published author, to assist in creating policies and initiatives that positively impacted and emphasized the importance of quality education and opportunity.
“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 Kirton McConkie Shareholder, Alexander Dushku, reflecting on his friendship with Oscar Jr.
As the McConkie family, friends, and the firm mourn the passing of Oscar Jr., we promise to continue to carry on the tradition of excellence that Oscar Jr. established many years ago. He will be missed and remembered by us all at Kirton McConkie.