The death of Gary Young (July 11, 1949 – May 12, 2018), founder of Young Living Essential Oils, took many by surprise. But friends of Gary had seen the signs for years so, while the loss was still felt, it wasn’t an abrupt surprise. Below is the official announcement of Gary’s passing followed by several heartfelt notes from Mary Young with updates on events that have taken place over the past year.
A Message from Jared Turner, May 12, 2018
To our valued Members, employees, partners, and friends,
It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that my mentor and friend, our beloved founder Gary Young, passed away peacefully today in Salt Lake City, Utah, surrounded by his closest family and friends due to complications resulting from a series of strokes.
Even though he wouldn’t want us to feel this way, everyone at Young Living is heartbroken by this loss. We take solace in remembering the special man who was such an iconic pioneer and messenger for essential oils and their benefits to people around the world.
Gary was the undisputed leader of the global essential oil movement. He spent 35 years studying the benefits and perfecting the extraction of essential oils, while building a billion-dollar plus global business designed to share what he deemed “the gift” of essential oils with millions of people.
His commitment to physical and emotional well-being, combined with his lifelong love of nature, drove him to learn everything about essential oils—from how they are produced to their wellness benefits. He was passionate about providing all of our members with only the highest quality oils, sourced from our own farms and Seed to Seal-certified suppliers and partners across the globe, so that millions can enjoy the full benefits of these amazing natural gifts today.
Those who knew Gary understood that no man ever had a bigger heart or was more devoted to the betterment of humanity. His love for others, empathy, and forgiving nature were always on display across his roles as a husband, father, farmer, researcher, leader, explorer, innovator, mentor, philanthropist, and more. Gary’s “maverick” spirit, unfailing work ethic, and passion for life inspired everyone around him to be better, bolder, and kinder. He not only pioneered and created the product category of high-quality essential oils as a mainstream wellness solution, but he also raised the bar for quality standards and created a purpose-driven movement that continues to sweep the globe and change millions of lives for the better.
Mary, the executive team, and I have worked side-by-side with Gary and have had many discussions about his vision for the future of the company. We are completely committed to carrying on his legacy and mission of providing Young Living essential oils to every home in the world.
Mary will continue to serve as the CEO, and I will continue in my role of president and chief operating officer. In recent years, Gary and Mary have recruited and developed a world-class executive team. This talented group has diverse expertise across industries, from operations and manufacturing to research and marketing. This team has grown the business 800 percent over the last five years.
Our corporate staff is committed to “take action” as Gary always guided, and we invite you to join us in honoring his memory by striving every day to live by his philosophy:
To truly accomplish our vision of taking the priceless benefits of our essential oils and oil-infused products to every home in the world, every possible effort is required. We seek ways to take positive, powerful action every day in every way. Ours is a proactive culture—never a reactive one.
From a personal standpoint, I will miss Gary very much. He played an instrumental role in my life, helping me grow as a leader but more importantly as a man. Gary was from humble beginnings, and even as Young Living grew and experienced success, he never lost sight of his passion for helping others. Having the opportunity to work by his side for the last six years has taught me lessons about determination and the importance of relationships. I will honor our friendship by always asking myself, “What would Gary do?” to help me make important decisions. My family and I are indebted to Gary for bringing us into this amazing journey of sharing “the gift” of essential oils with millions of people.
Mary, Jacob, and Josef thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers. Mary will be sharing more information later this week.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the Young family has asked that donations be made to the nonprofit Gary started—The D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation.
President and Chief Operating Officer
Gary Young speaking on December 13, 2017 at Young Living Beauty School. Gary shares about his life, the history of the company and how he stayed motivated even through the most trying of times.
From Mary Young: April 20, 2017
It has now been five months since my last report with an update on how Gary is doing. Many of you have been asking about his well-being, but I have not had enough conclusive information from the medical world that I could share.
Gary has been feeling better to the point of venturing into the mountain wilderness of dogsledding in Alaska. He completed two major races in February and discovered how challenging and intriguing this was to his psyche, which is what has motivated him to do many unexpected things, which is perhaps what explains why there are so many fabulous moving parts within Young Living.
However, lately Gary has felt more tired and has had more difficulty breathing, although it didn’t seem to change his determination to go forward with all his plans; but it was time to go back to the doctors in Houston to see what they might have learned from the chip that was implanted in his chest last November.
In my last report, I explained about a computer chip that was placed under the skin close to Gary’s heart so that his heart could be monitored 24/7, allowing the doctors to see what was happening with the irregular heartbeats he was experiencing, called premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) and supraventricular tachycardias (SVTs). When that started, Gary would begin to feel pressure in his chest, causing heart pain, feeling faint, and difficulty breathing.
After seeing the results of the EKG, the doctor was certain that it was time to perform the cardiac ablation surgery. We had not gone to Houston with that in mind, but there was a sense of urgency with the doctor, so we changed our plans to have this done. The doctor wanted an MRI of Gary’s heart, which, oddly enough, was about the only test Gary hadn’t had. The doctor arranged for Gary to do that on Tuesday and have the ablation surgery on Wednesday.
We asked again about the possibility of Chagas and the hole in Gary’s heart as well as the general difficulties he was having. The doctor said that if he found scarring inside the heart, we would definitely know that there had been an invasion of Chagas or some other Chagas-like unknown virus or infectious disease.
After about three hours of surgery, the doctor came out to tell us that he had both good and bad news—not what we were expecting to hear. When he was mapping the electrical activity of Gary’s heart, he found “the spot” where some clusters of heart cells were misfiring, causing the PVCs; so he ablated or burned them. He waited a minute or so, and more PVCs originated in a different, close-by spot. He ablated those and waited, and again more PVCs popped up. He burned several different spots until it became dangerous to do any more.
The heart is a large electricity-generating machine that pumps continuously to recirculate re-oxygenated blood, which gives us life. However, what the doctor found was a large scar on the papillary muscle of the mitral value, where cell clusters were prematurely firing electrical impulses. Unfortunately, the scar tissue has rendered the heart electrically unstable, and this cannot be repaired. The damage is permanent, according to all medical prognosis.
Fortunately, modern medicine offers a miracle from our world of technology that will work with Gary’s heart to maintain stability. Again, the doctor arranged the schedule so that the very next day he could surgically implant a computerized defibrillator that also functions as a pacemaker, which he must have the rest of his life.
It seems like we have most of the puzzle pieces that help us better understand what has been happening over the last year. It’s a hard pill for Gary to swallow, knowing that giving his life for the benefit of Young Living has brought all of this on him. We keep telling him that it is all part of this earthly experience. Probably the piece that is missing is the answer to the question about the hole in his heart. The doctor said he wanted to wait and see how he does with everything that has been done this week. He did not want to make a decision until he had more information.
Houston Methodist Hospital probably has the greatest cardiac department in the world. The doctors have been wonderful and the surgeon is amazing and has quite a sense of humor, which helps a lot. He has taken very great care to discover what was happening with Gary and to find the best solution for him. This is a great step in a good direction, and only time will tell us the final story.
Dr. Oli Wenker and his family have become very dear friends, and the help that “Doc Oli” has given Gary is immeasurable. Gary’s situation is so complicated, and it is hard to decipher the medical jargon. It is also such a maze to get everywhere and to understand all the different procedures. It’s like following the leader, which reduces the stress immensely. We just give our Stress Away to Doc Oli and let him lead the way.
Dr. Wenker’s specialty was cardiology when he worked for several years in this same department at Methodist several years ago. He still has friends and colleagues who are working in this hospital, and it’s fun to listen to his response when they ask him what he’s doing now. Natural medicine and specifically Young Living? Hmmm, that really puts a smile on one’s face.
Gary has been given orders to not do any traveling for three months. It will take his heart three to four weeks to recover. It’s like having a sunburn inside your heart. Try to imagine that.
We so appreciate all the love and happy wishes you send us. Gary says he feels your energy, and it helps him a lot. It was fun for him to hear the roar of the crowd on the cruise ship as everyone yelled, whistled, and cheered for his recovery. He’s excited about the next cruise that he has already planned that you’ll be hearing about soon; but right now convention is staring us in the face, and preparation is in high gear. This convention is going to be amazing—the first time an event like this has taken place in the stadium at the University of Utah.
We hope you’ll be there to hear from Gary himself—his views about life through the challenge of dogsledding, his amazing come back from the ravages of the Amazon jungle, and the impact that experience has had on his life from which we all can gleam something that will benefit us individually and collectively in some way or another.
Feel free to share this information with those in your organization if you desire.
With love and gratitude,
Gary describes an experience where he was held at gunpoint during the creation of the Ecuador farm.
From Mary Young, April 25, 2018
As Gary’s recovery continues, I feel to express my gratitude for all the kind words of love and encouragement that have come in many ways from so many of you around the world.
As the saga continues, there have been so many inquiries as to Gary’s well-being. I explained in my last report most of the details about the journey that has led him to his condition, but there is a little more that sheds additional light on the situation.
Further brain scans have shown that Gary has suffered a major stroke on his right side and a small stroke on the left side. His memory has not been affected, except for the short term, so he is very capable of talking about everything except for recent activities. His mind is preoccupied with the new farm and everything that is planned there. He continually talks with all those involved with the farm development.
Several times we have driven down to see our new building scheduled for occupancy in March of 2019 and are very excited about that, and Gary is continually interested in the construction and all that is taking place.
The doctors are astounded with Gary’s progress. They all have different opinions about what the outcome will be, but Gary is defying their prognosis. The stroke took the use of his legs, which has made him very frustrated, as you can imagine; but he is gaining muscle strength and beginning to put on more weight, which will support him and his ability to walk again.
His left side was affected, leaving him with no feeling in his left hand and arm; and his being left-handed was a big concern. However, Gary is ambidextrous so he hasn’t noticed a difference; but the excitement is that within the first week of the stroke, he was moving his fingers and lifting his left arm, which surprised the doctors. Every day we see more improvement, and the therapists are certain that he will regain total use of his left arm. It’s just frustrating that the healing is so slow.
We are still asking questions about why this happened and have no real answers. It probably began with the terrible accident when he was logging in the mountains and was hit in the head with a tree at age 24, leaving him with three open skull fractures. What kind of healing and determination had to take place to get him out of the wheelchair after 27 months? What did the doctors mean when they told him he could expect to have some of the problems from the accident return later in life? What internal damage has he lived with his entire life from that accident?
What internal damage was caused by the jungle bite, which we think was Chagas? He has had enormous problems with his heart, which protocols he took charge of and changed; but that still hasn’t closed the hole in his heart or eradicated the scar tissue that the doctors found. What other internal damage is there? How might brain tissue have been affected or weakened by the effects of the bite?
The gram-negative blood infection that hit him twice putting him into ICU twice for several days is fatal for about 50 percent of the people who are affected. His blood platelet count went down to 50,000, which is dangerously low. His blood pressure dropped to 50, and anything under 90 is very dangerous. This infection was devastating to his entire well-being, and yet he came through it; but what are the damaging aftereffects? There are so many unknowns and the doctors are astounded at Gary’s fighting spirit to live.
Gary is challenged by so many things and not just by what I have described here. He has had numerous accidents, including falling 35 feet out of a tree when we were camping in the wilderness, breaking his back three times through many unusual activities, having his horse fall over him on a steep mountainside while searching for a lost boy, crashing his sand rail while filming in the dunes to market Nitro, and of course jousting, which he loves so much. Even when he was hurt, he would just continue jousting with his injuries so as not to stop the show.
One time, he was hit in the gut with a lance, which visually knocked the wind out of him, but he finished the joust and afterwards decided that maybe he should have the injury checked. We ended up flying to Toronto to a hospital that specializes in hernia surgeries. They wanted him there for a week with time between two surgeries, but he demanded that they do the surgeries back to back, which they reluctantly agreed to do; then they wanted him to stay and recuperate for three or four days. They were not happy when we left the hospital the next day, but Gary just had to get home. We almost missed the flight because Gary couldn’t walk fast enough to get to the gate, but I ran ahead with the boys and they held
the plane for him. He has had many small surgeries; and most of the time, he would give no mental attention to his “little” accidents.
It seemed like there was never any time to rest and recover because Young Living was calling to him in so many different ways, and he was driven to “eat everything on his plate.”
Harvest time in Highland was a time of very little sleep, driving the semi every night 125 miles to St. Maries, which took sometimes 8-10 hours over snow and ice, chaining up and unchaining several times during the drive. There was no time to rest because the trucks had to be unloaded immediately so that the plant material wouldn’t freeze in the trailers, besides having to get the trucks back to Highland in time to start loading more chips in the morning.
Building the distillery in Ft. Nelson, British Columbia, is probably one of his greatest feats because of the horrible conditions in the bitter cold sub-zero weather through an entire winter. But he was driven to produce black spruce, since we had been waiting so long for this precious oil that kept Valor out of stock. Even when he sent employees home to rest or for the holidays, he stayed and worked through the night; time was of the essence.
He built the Croatia distillery in 19 days because we were desperate for Helichrysum, one of our most needed oils. Thank goodness the weather was accommodating, even if he didn’t speak the language or know the customs.
How much has all of this played in adding to the condition in which he now finds himself? There is no way of knowing, but we do know that NOW he must rest and give his body time to heal; and even with this, his mind is still racing with ideas and plans for the future, which isn’t all bad in motivating his recovery, but it doesn’t help with the need to rest.
Since we left the hospital and returned home, his blood pressure and oxygen levels have been 100 percent within normal range. We are working every day on his pain and finding help with some of Gary’s own formulations. Good nutrition, rest, prayer, and sheer determination is Gary’s protocol for regaining health, and we believe that prayer is the most powerful.
Many believe and others have an absolute knowing that Gary will recover. We feel your prayers, your knowing, your dedication, love, and friendship. We thank God every day for the blessing of Young Living and what that means in our lives—great products, great friends, tremendous love and support from around the world, and a great mission to carry forward.
As I said in my last report, please keep visualizing Gary walking on stage at convention. The prayers of many can bring about miracles, and your prayers are very important to us.
May God bless you all,