Transcript for George Q. Cannon, "Obituary," Deseret News, 30 November 1864, 68
Died on the 26th of September, 1864, of apoplexy, and a point seven miles this side of Little Laramie, Colorado Territory, on his return from a mission to England, John Moburn Kay, aged 46 years, 11 months and 20 days.
Elder John M. Kay was born on the 6th of October, 1817, in the town of Bury, Lancashire, England. He entered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the fall of the year 1841, being baptized at St. Helens, Lancashire, by Elder John Nightingale, and was ordained an elder immediately afterwards, by Elder John Allen. His first acquaintance with the Latter-day Saints and the principles of the gospel was made under circumstances which exhibited his disposition to resist oppression and defend the weak—a disposition which he possessed through life. One of his fellow-workmen—a small timid man—had joined the Church and been ordained an elder, and occasionally preached the gospel. His shopmates ridiculed him, and even went so far as to attempt violence upon him. Without knowing anything about his religion, but seeing that he was being imposed upon, Br. Kay defended him, and thrashed his leading assailant. He than felt sufficient curiosity to inquire of the man whom he had befriended about his belief, and after investigation, became satisfied of its truth, and obeyed it. After his baptism and ordination, though he labored at his business, he traveled and preached with considerable success in the neighboring villages and towns. But the spirit of gathering had seized him at his baptism, and he spared no efforts to obtain the necessary means to emigrate to Zion. He sailed from England in September, 1842, and reached Nauvoo early in the spring of 1843. In February, 1846, the first camp moved across the Mississippi river on its journey westward; he was one of that camp. He spent the next winter with Bishop Miller's company, north-west of Winter Quarters among the Panceah [Ponca] Indians. In the fall of 1848 he reached Great Salt Lake Valley. He was appointed on a mission to England in the spring of 1855, where he remained—with the exception of a few weeks spent in visiting the branches of the Church on the Continent—until the contractor's war with Utah under the Buchanan administration broke out, when in company with Elders Orson Pratt and Ezra T. Benson, and several other elders, he sailed for New York, and from thence by the isthmus of Panama to San Francisco, California. He came from there by the Southern Route, and arrived in this city in January, 1858. Appointed on another mission to England in the fall of 1860, he started—though suffering severely from an attack of inflammatory rheumatism, as he was also at the time he started on his first mission—and labored faithfully and uprightly, and to the satisfaction of his brethren, for three years and a half in that country. On leaving England to return home, he was appointed to preside over the company of Saints which sailed from London on the Ship, Hudson. After reaching New York, and between there and Wyoming, his labors were very arduous; his ambition prompted him to make exertions which were scarcely suitable in hot weather for a fleshy a man as he was—his weight being usually about 250 lbs. He was taken sick after reaching Wyoming and continued so for some distance on the plains. For some days before his death, however, his health apparently improved, and he was able to move about with considerable ease, and even did so the day and evening before he died. His death was very sudden, and doubtless without pain. One hour before he expired, he conversed with his wife, and dropped off to sleep again. He gave a great start which woke his wife, and all was over.
Br. Kay's integrity is exemplified by a remark which he made to the writer before leaving England. Said he, "with all my faults, I never saw a moment, since I knew the truth, that I did not love it and was not willing to place my body in the gap to save my brethren from danger." This was his character. In times of difficulty and danger, he could safely be relied on, and he was always on hand for service. His influences with the Saints among whom he labored was always of an excellent character, he was wise in counsel and took a fatherly interest in their welfare. His death will be regretted by them wherever he was known. But though to his family and friends his death is a loss which they feel severely, it is not so to himself. He has passed away at the close of a mission, faithfully performed, and we can reflect with pleasure on his memory and labors, knowing that "they, which be of the faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."—[G. Q. C.