David O. McKay was the prophet who really brought The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the modern era, and if you look at who he called, he's done a lot to shape where we are today. Three of the men he called went on to be prophet, including Thomas S. Monson, who's been the head of the church from 2008 to present day.
First Presidency in 1951:
David O. McKay
Stephen L. Richards
J. Reuben Clark
Quorum of the Twelve in 1951:
Joseph Fielding Smith, John A. Widtsoe,
Joseph F. Merrill, Albert E. Bowen,
Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball,
Ezra Taft Benson, Mark E. Petersen,
Matthew Cowley, Henry D. Moyle,
Delbert L. Stapley...
Called to be Apostles by David O. McKay:
Marion G. Romney, LeGrand Richards,
Adam S. Bennion, Richard L. Evans,
George Q. Morris, Hugh B. Brown,
Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley,
N. Eldon Tanner, Thomas S. Monson,
(Thorpe B. Isaacson), Alvin R. Dyer
MARION G. ROMNEY
(September, 19, 1897 - May 20, 1988)
Apostle - October 11, 1951
Second Counselor - July 7, 1972
First Counselor - December 2, 1982
President of Q12 - November 10, 1985
Romney was born in Juarez, Mexico, living in a small community the Romneys and other families occupied when many polygamists had fled south of the border to avoid US prosecution. He and his family moved to the US in 1912 as violence from the Mexican Revolution spread. He was first cousin to Michigan governor George Romney (and uncle of Mitt).
He made his living as a prosecutor and served in the Utah legislature (as a Democrat). He was called to be an Apostle at age 54. He served over the Mexico mission and did a lot to help build the church there.
He served in the First Presidencies of Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball. His health declined in the 1980's, and he rarely appeared in public for his final years.
(February 6, 1886 - January 11, 1983)
Apostle - April 6, 1952
LeGrand was the son of Apostle George F. Richards and grandson of Apostle Franklin D. Richards. LeGrand was serving as Presiding Bishop when his father died.
He served as bishop, stake president and mission president in his time. He wrote 1950's A Marvelous Work and a Wonder to help missionaries spread the Gospel. He wound up be the second-oldest Apostle in church history when he died at age 96 (behind only 98-year-old David B. Haight).
ADAM S. BENNION
(December 2, 1886 - February 11, 1958)
Apostle - April 9, 1953
Bennion earned his masters degree at Columbia University before getting his job as an English professor at the Univeristy of Utah. He later became president of Utah Power & Light, and then the director of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.
He wound up serving less than five years as an Apostle, dying at age 71.
(March 23, 1906 - November 1, 1971)
Apostle - October 8, 1953
Evans was the youngest of nine children, and his father died a few weeks after he was born. His widowed mother raised all of them herself. He served his mission in Great Britain from 1926-1929, and while there worked as an associate editor for the Millenial Star under James E. Talmage and John A. Widtsoe.
He was best known for hosting the weekly radio program Music & the Spoken Word, featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He was only 23 for its first episode (just months after he'd returned home from his mission), and he hosted it until his death. He did voice-over work for many church productions, as well as outside endeavors, such as Bing Crosby's annual Christmas radio specials.
He was the youngest Apostle when he was ordained, but he died at only 65 years old.
GEORGE Q. MORRIS
(February 20, 1874 - April 23, 1962)
Apostle - April 8, 1954
Morris is the oldest to have ever been called to be an Apostle, at age 80. As such, he only served a few years. Before, he'd been serving as an assistant to the Q12, a position that existed from 1941-1976.
HUGH B. BROWN
(October 24, 1883 - December 2, 1975)
Apostle - April 10, 1958
Third Counselor - June 22, 1961
Second Counselor - October 12, 1961
First Counselor - October 4, 1963
The "B." in Hugh B. Brown stands for Brown, as it was his mother's maiden name, though his parents weren't blood-related. Brown was born in Granger, Utah, but his family moved to Canada in his teen years. After marrying Zina Card, six of his eight children were born in Canada until they moved to Utah. Brown actually served in the Canadian military during WWI. He achieved the rank of major but was told he'd receive no further promotions because he was Mormon.
He worked as a lawyer in Canada, and upon moving to Utah, he joined the same law firm that employed J. Reuben Clark and Albert E. Bowen. He aligned with the Democratic party and ran for U.S. Senator in 1932 but did not win.
He served over the British mission when WWII broke out, and he and his missionaries returned home under the direction of Pres. Grant in 1940. His son Hugh C. Brown volunteered in the British Air Corps and was killed in action in 1942.
Brown was called to be an assistant to the Q12 before joining it as an Apostle in 1958. A few years later, he joined the First Presidency. Once Pres. McKay died in 1970, he returned to the Q12. He died at age 92.
HOWARD W. HUNTER
(November 14, 1907 - March 3, 1995)
Apostle - October 10, 1959
President of Q12 - May 20, 1988
Prophet/president - June 5, 1994
Hunter's father was a non-member and wouldn't let him get baptized until he was 12. He was a skilled musician and could play several instruments, including the piano, violin and trumpet. He had polio when he was 4, and although he avoided paralysis, he had back pain his entire life.
He made his living as a banker until he was able to complete law school, then worked as a lawyer. He became an Apostle at age 51. He was made Acting President of the Q12 when Pres. Benson became prophet, as the next senior Apostle - Marion G. Romney - was too ill to function as President. Hunter became the actual President of the Q12 in 1988.
He suffered significant health problems in his later years, and he was not in good shape when he became prophet in 1994. Nevertheless he was able to do the talking and traveling. He had the shorture tenure as prophet in the modern days (only nine months) and he was the first LDS Church President born in the 20th century. He drafted "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" but died before it could be presented to the church. He was 87.
(June 23, 1910 - January 27, 2008)
Apostle - October 5, 1961
Counselor - July 23, 1981
Second Counselor - December 2, 1982
First Counselor - November 10, 1985
President of Q12 - June 5, 1994
Prophet/president - March 12, 1995
Gordon was the nephew of Apostle Alonzo Hinckley. His father Bryant was an LDS writer. He served his mission in England (where Apostle Joseph Merrill was his mission president) and he spent his last few months there preaching in Europe, including France and Germany.
He studied journalism in college, and he was employed by the LDS church to develop their radio and communications departments. He acted as the church's liaison to Deseret Book (where he worked with Thomas S. Monson) and wrote for the Church News.
He became an Apostle at age 51. In 1981, when the health of all three members of the First Presidency was poor, he was called to be an additional counselor. When N. Eldon Tanner died in 1982, he became 2nd counselor, and when Ezra Taft Benson became prophet, he called Gordon to be his 1st counselor. He served as 1st counselor for Pres. Hunter as well. Nine months later, he became the 15th President of the LDS church.
His background in media made him comfortable in interviews and he became a prominent international figure. He increased temple building and church membership went from 9.5 to 13.5 million members. It was during his tenure that church membership outside the US surpassed membership within the US. He was the oldest prophet in this dispensation, dying at age 97.
N. ELDON TANNER
(May 9, 1898 - November 27, 1982)
Apostle - October 11, 1962
Second Counselor (DOM, JFS) - October 4, 1963
First Counselor (HBL, SWK) - July 7, 1972
Tanner was born in Utah but his family moved to Alberta, Canada, shortly thereafter. He ran a general store as a young man and also became a teacher. He held many government positions, first on the town council, then in the Alberta legislature. He wound up becoming Speaker of the Alberta legislature and then was appointed to serve in the national Cabinet in 1937. He won hs re-elections and served until 1952.
He was only an Apostle for a year when David O. McKay called him to be in the First Presidency due to the death of Henry D. Moyle. He served in the First Presidencies of four prophets before dying at age 84.
(August 21, 1927 - )
Apostle - October 4, 1963
Second Counselor - November 10, 1985
First Counselor - March 12, 1995
President of Q12 - March 12, 1995
Prophet/president - February 3, 2008
Monson was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He joined the US Naval Reserve in 1945 but WWII ended before he was ever sent overseas. He graduated the U of Utah in business management and became an ad executive at the Deseret News. He later became the general manager of the Deseret News Press.
He didn't serve a full-time mission but became a bishop at age 22. He was a counselor in a stake presidency at age 27 and mission president of Canada at age 31. After serving there, he returned to work at the Deseret News until he was called to be an Apostle at age 36, the youngest in over 50 years.
When Ezra Taft Benson became prophet, he selected Monson as his 2nd counselor, and he remained in the First Presidency under Hunter and Hinckley until he became prophet 5 1/2 years ago.
THORPE B. ISAACSON
(September 6, 1898 - November 9, 1970)
Counselor - October 28, 1965
Isaacson was an assistant to the Q12 when he was called to be a counselor in David O. McKay's First Presidency. He was never ordained an Apostle. Joseph Fielding Smith was made a counselor at the same time.
Isaacson suffered a stroke in 1966 which severely limited his abilities to serve. When Pres. McKay died in 1970, Isaacson returned to his calling as assistant to the Q12, but he died a few months later.
ALVIN R. DYER
(January 1, 1903 - March 6, 1977)
Apostle - October 5, 1967
Counselor - April 6, 1968
Dyer was an assistant to the Q12 when he was called to be an Apostle, but he was not added to the Quorum of the Twelve. He soon became another counselor in McKay's FIrst Presidency. When McKay died, he returned to being an assistant to the Q12, and when that position was eliminated in 1976, he became a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, the only man in history to join that Quorum after being ordained an Apostle.
He suffered a stroke in 1972 and was limited in what he could do until he died at age 74.