Elaine Stirland McKay Profile Photo
1935 Elaine 2023

Elaine Stirland McKay

November 23, 1935 — March 7, 2023

Bountiful, UT

Elaine Stirland McKay passed away peacefully in her home on March 7, 2023, in the middle of a pretty impressive battle with cancer. Cancer seemed more than eager to call it a draw. It wasn’t. Elaine pummeled it. The match was finally called when Elaine’s faith became so great that she could not be kept from within the veil.

Elaine was born in Logan, Utah, to Rulon Godfrey and Louise Seamons Stirland on November 23, 1935. The second of six children, she loved and lived in Providence, Utah, for the first ten years of her life, enjoying the loving care of not only parents and siblings, but also her pioneer grandmother, Rosina Schenk Stirland. At the age of ten, she moved with her family and other relatives to Chinook, Montana. There, for the rest of her youth, Elaine eagerly absorbed all the lessons that can be learned only on a farm, only in a family.

Elaine brought from Heaven a constant upward reach. From her youth, she was driven to achieve and excel. She believed and often quoted Robert Browning’s words, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for?” Her parents taught her to do her best. She discovered early on that most of the time, her best was the best. Winning simple things like spelling bees, writing contests and 4H competitions instilled in her a desire and work ethic that eventually led to her becoming Girl’s State Governor and Montana’s representative at Girl’s Nation, where she met and visited with the president of the United States.

In the midst of all her achievements, her wise mother quietly taught her, “Elaine, the greatest thrill that comes from winning the biggest contests will pale in comparison to the feeling you will have the first time you watch your first child give his first talk in Sunday School.” Elaine would one day realize this truth, but only after being elected the first female freshman class president in BYU’s history.

It was there, at BYU, that she met a young man from Huntsville, Utah, who was described in BYU’s yearbook as “the friendliest man on campus,” and “the most preferred man on campus.” On June 3, 1957, Elaine Stirland and Barrie Gunn McKay were married in the Salt Lake Temple by President David O. McKay.

Elaine’s contribution as an English teacher began in Chicago, Illinois, during the time Barrie attended law school. She would later teach at Bountiful High School, University of Utah and Brigham Young University. She also tutored the hearing impaired. Elaine never caused the deaf to hear, but she did help the deaf to speak. She was a remarkable educator because she was a gifted nurturer. She truly possessed the ability to see others as God sees them. Her grandchildren have observed that when Grandma spoke their name, it sounded sacred.

Elaine seldom worked outside the home while she and Barrie raised their five children. During those decades, her out-of-home contributions derived from her skills as a gifted writer. She was a well-respected and regularly published author. Satisfying, all of it, but nothing compared to the joy and satisfaction she felt the first time she watched her first child give his first talk in Sunday School. In fact, wherever her children were speaking, performing or competing, Elaine was in the audience.

Elaine was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving wherever she was called, including two full-time missions with Barrie—one in Independence, Missouri, and another in Washington D.C. Above all else and in all things, her life was devoted to bringing everyone in her sphere of influence unto Christ. She was serious and fearless in her commitment to stand as a witness of God at all times.

Elaine is preceded in death by her parents, Rulon and Louise Stirland, and her siblings, Jerold, William, Daniel and Susan. She is survived by her sister, Diane Matthews, her husband, Barrie, and her children, Barrie (Julie), Kyle (Jennifer), Rulon (Martha), Kent (Terra) and Maria (Steve) Jones.

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, March 13, 2023, in the Mueller Park 5th Ward Chapel, 1320 East 1975 South, Bountiful, Utah. An evening viewing will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Sunday, March 12, 2023, at Russon Mortuary, 295 North Main Street, Bountiful, Utah. A morning viewing will take place from 9:45-10:45 a.m. Monday at the church prior to the memorial service.

The service will be streamed live on the Russon Mortuary & Crematory Facebook page and on this obituary page. The live stream will begin 10-15 minutes prior to the service and will be posted below.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, March 12, 2023

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Mountain time)

Russon Mortuary & Crematory - Bountiful

295 N. Main St., Bountiful, UT 84010

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Monday, March 13, 2023

9:45 - 10:45 am (Mountain time)

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Memorial Service

Monday, March 13, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

Mueller Park 5th Ward Chapel

1320 East 1975 South, Bountiful, UT 84010

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