D. Gary Young, the undisputed leader of the essential oil movement and the founder of Young Living Essential Oils, passed away on May 12, 2018, in Salt Lake City, Utah, due to complications following a series of strokes. Young spent 35 years studying the benefits and perfecting the extraction of essential oils, while building a billion-dollar global business designed to share what he deemed “the gift” of essential oils with millions of people.
Described as a “modern pioneer,” Young was part inventor and part historian. His pursuit of new wellness discoveries was rooted in ancient practices as he attempted to unlock and share the benefits bestowed by herbs, plants, and trees. His research would take him to the remote corners of the earth, and often back in time, to better understand nature’s powers that modern society may overlook.
Young was born July 11, 1949, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and spent his childhood with his parents and five siblings in a 20 x 30-foot cabin without running water or electricity. Upon graduating from Challis High School, he struck out to follow his lifelong dream of building a ranch on the Canadian frontier. In 1967 he loaded his belongings into a truck and moved to British Columbia, and in 1968 he was granted 320 acres in the Caribou District, part of the last homestead act, where he began logging.
After five years of logging and ranching, Young suffered debilitating injuries in a serious logging accident and was confined to a wheelchair with no expectation of walking again, which caused him to endure years of pain and depression. Channeling the cowboy spirit of “not backing down,” he began to explore different avenues to better health and well-being, which included the benefits of herbs and good nutrition.
It was on this path where Young’s personal journey began, as he wanted to learn everything he could about natural healing and where he was introduced to essential oils. His determination to achieve physical and emotional well-being, combined with his lifelong love of nature, drove him to learn everything about essential oils—from how they were produced to their wellness benefits.
Young’s first true introduction to essential oils came when he attended a medical conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where medical doctors were presenting their research on essential oils. He was enthralled with what he learned and returned to the U.S. with 13 different essential oils to begin his own research. He found the benefits to be astounding and came to the conclusion that this was a path he wanted to pursue.
Having grown up farming, it was natural for him to want to learn about growing the plants and producing the oils, which took him to France to study and learn the art of distillation under Mr. Henri Viaud, the French “father of distillation” in Provence, France, the lavender capital of the world, and Marcel Espieu, the president of the Lavender Growers Association in France for over 20 years.
In 1988 Young sold his research center in Baja California and moved to Reno, Nevada, where he began his essential oil business. A year later he moved his business to Spokane, Washington, and began building a marketing company to expand his teachings about essential oils and their benefits to as many people as possible. That was the origin of the present-day Young Living Essential Oils company.
A rancher at heart, he purchased his first farm of 160 acres in May 1992 in the mountains of St. Maries, Idaho. On this farm the first lavender, clary sage, thyme, and peppermint were planted and became a testing ground for new distillation practices.
In 1993 Young’s company in Riverton, Utah, became Young Living Essential Oils; and in 1994 it was incorporated. He then bought another 160 acres in Mona, Utah, in 1995 and started farming in Utah.
Young began looking internationally to discover new plants that could be distilled and shared around the world. His path took a unique turn when he was invited to develop a natural medicine program and farming project for Asuay University in Cuenca, Ecuador. The climate in Cuenca has only a three-month growing season, making it not too conducive for farming; so Gary went exploring in Guayaquil, a very busy city on the coast. He found the climate and unidentified plants and trees an irresistible opportunity. Young Living became global when it expanded to Ecuador in 2006 with a 2,300-acre farm.
At the same time, he saw an opportunity to help the local children in the rural community of Chongon on the edge of the jungle and founded the Young Living Academy. The doors opened in March 2008; and to date, 340 students have attended, with 100 percent of the students from the first graduating class celebrating their commencement in March 2016.
In 2009 Young went to Yemen. After great persistence, he received a permit to go into the “Forbidden Zone” to visit Shabwa, the ancient throne of Queen Sheba; to see the remains of this ancient civilization; and to see and document the different frankincense and myrrh species still growing in the region. He summarized his experiences in a best-selling historical novel, The One Gift, which depicts life on the camel caravans. It was just one of a dozen books Young authored and published.
While visiting Oman and walking through a market with thousands of giant bags of frankincense resin piled in the streets, Young decided to build a distillery in Salalah, the center of frankincense history; and in January 2010, Young Living opened the first large commercial distillery for the extraction of Sacred Frankincense essential oil in modern times.
While fascinated with the teachings of ancient cultures, Young was also a modern thinker. In 2014 the Young Living Highland Flats distillery became the first automated, large-capacity, computerized steam distilling facility ever built in the world for essential oils.
Young Living’s operations currently have a daily capacity of producing more than 500,000 bottles of oil.
The company has international offices in Canada, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Ecuador, Mexico, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the United States. Young Living has more than 16 corporate and partner farms, over 3,000 employees, and well over 4 million members. Young Living Essential Oils will continue to grow and share Gary’s vision around the world.
Young’s research led him to the far corners of the earth and unprecedented findings that improve health and wellness. But perhaps the most important role essential oils played in his life was bringing him together with his wife Mary of 25 years. They met at an expo in the Salt Palace in the center of Salt Lake City and married in 1994. The couple have two sons, Jacob and Josef.
Today, Mary continues to serve as CEO of Young Living Essential Oils, the company the couple founded together. Mary’s experience as a networking distributor prior to Young Living and her business experience give her an unusual balance of understanding in this amazing essential oil company they built together. They were the perfect match, with Gary, the visionary, and Mary the realist. Mary will continue to carry Gary’s vision forward with a unique understanding of her visionary husband and with an extraordinary executive staff who will carry Gary’s torch forever.
The funeral will be held at 1 p.m., MT, on Friday, May 18, at the Whispering Springs Lavender Farm and Distillery, one of Gary’s favorite spots in the world. The farm is located at 3700 Old Highway 91, Mona, UT 84645.
A viewing will be held at the farm before the funeral from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m., MT.
Mary requests that any donations or gifts in Gary’s honor be made to the D. Gary Young, Young Living Foundation to continue his life’s work of serving the global community.