The founder and former CEO of Young Living Gary Young is dead at age 68.
Earlier today, Young Living COO Jared Turner informed the company that Donald “Gary” Young has passed away due to complications from multiple strokes. Young was a pioneer of the essential oils industry and built Young Living into a multi-level marketing giant with over a billion dollars in sales in 2017.
Despite his success, Gary Young has been the subject of controversy over the years including the suspicious death of his daughter in 1982 during a water birth and being arrested for practicing medicine without a license in 1983.
We’ll update this story as we get more details. Full text of Jared’s message is below:
Young Living family,
It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that our 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.
It was an honor for me to be with him when he took his last, peaceful breath at 3:55 pm, on this beautiful spring day. A sacred moment I’ll never forget.
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 wellbeing, 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, we 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 detailed information later this week.
Below is an email from Gary’s wife Mary (current CEO of Young Living) that was privately sent to Young Living Diamond distributors providing more details around Gary’s final weeks and days.
Please do not share
Gary Young Report # 8
Hello, my friends,
This is the last report that I will send about Gary. Just trying to put feelings on paper is a challenge for me at this time, but so many people are feeling the pain of losing Gary that I thought I would try to answer some of your questions and give the best explanation I can with what we have experienced.
Gary was continuing to improve each day from the last stroke he had, and we were all very enthusiastic about his future. He was sitting up by himself and standing up on his own strength. He had gained about 6 pounds and was eating three good meals a day—even asking to eat—so we were thrilled with that. I made him two quarts of a special power protein drink every morning, and he would usually drink all of it throughout the day, besides taking all of his supplements; so I knew he was getting great nutrition. It was obvious because we saw him gaining strength each day.
On Wednesday, May 9, his left leg began to swell, and a hard lump was pushing against the skin. We took him to the hospital immediately and were shocked when the x-ray showed that his leg was broken. We don’t know exactly when or how, and he never complained of any unusual pain, which was probably because it was on the left side that was so affected by the stroke, so he couldn’t feel as much. He was taken by ambulance to the large trauma hospital in Salt Lake for evaluation. The orthopedic surgeon was fantastic and was very confident that he could put in a titanium rod.
Thursday afternoon, he had the surgery, which went extremely well, and the surgeon said he could start therapy the next day and stand on it if he felt like it. That was even better news than we expected, so we were making great plans for his recovery. However, his blood pressure was a little low and his heart rate a little high, so they decided to take him to ICU.
I talked with him and he was very lucid. He asked for oils, the first being Trauma Life; and then the nurse gave me a half cup of crushed ice, which he quickly chewed up and swallowed. He was doing extremely well, and we were expecting to bring him home on Sunday or Monday. Around 11 p.m., he started gasping for air. The ICU team rushed in and put a tube down his throat and kept him breathing with the breathing machine.
Friday, he was still on the breathing machine but seemed to rally a bit, and we were hoping he would be responsive enough to take him off it.
Saturday morning, he was taken for a CAT scan, which revealed that he had had another big bi-lateral stroke. He had so much brain damage that his body started to shut down. He went into lung failure, kidney failure, and was in septic shock. The doctor said he could recover from perhaps an individual problem; but putting them all together, recovery would be unlikely or very difficult. As I watched him and continued to communicate with him, I could see him struggling. One time he got so angry with the tube in his mouth that his blood pressure went up to 118. We were happy to see that, but I felt he was screaming at me to get that tube out of his mouth. It was like, “Mary, get this out. Get me out of here. Let me go.” He didn’t want to leave us, but he was trapped, which was contrary to Gary’s whole being. I felt his suffering—we all felt his suffering—and I knew I couldn’t let it continue.
Gary was surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him dearly, who he worked with, and who had traveled the world with him. I made the decision to have the tube pulled out and let him breathe on his own. Then it would be his choice. Surrounding his bed, we held hands and prayed. The spirit was strong, and I could feel such relief from him when they pulled the tube out. I know he could hear us, and he knew that he was surrounded in love; but he had had enough, and he was ready to go—to be free of his broken and tortured body.
I put my arms around him, Jacob and Josef each held one hand, and the rest held on to him to be a part of his decision. His breathing became slower and slower until it stopped. He was gone, but he passed away peacefully and was not in pain.
We all keep asking why, for which we find no answers; yet there are some answers or possibilities. We will never know the internal damage and weaknesses caused by so many accidents, traumas to his body, and that foreboding bite while in the Amazon jungle that began the decline of his health. How much damaged has he lived with since the tree hit him in the head while logging that was supposed to have left him paralyzed for life? How much more tissue was weakened until a life of intensity took him to the edge? Many of us will wonder for years what really happened, but there will never be an answer.
Gary was a driven man, a man on a mission with a vision that had no boundaries. He was always concerned about everyone else and the well-being of his company. He would never rest and went from trauma to trauma never taking time to heal because so many distributors and others were depending on him, and he couldn’t let them down.
God was his foundation and his word was his bond, and to let anyone down was to disappoint God—and he wasn’t about to do that. He called the bible his Owner’s Operator Manual. He trusted and believed in others until they proved him wrong. He always saw the best in others until their actions said something different.
Gary’s personality was bigger than life itself. His spirit filled the room, the convention hall, even to the boundaries of his farms. He always gave 200 percent, never allowed the word “can’t” to be spoken, and was always looking for the solution, the best way to accomplish the goal.
He accomplished more in his life than 100 men. He founded the essential oil movement against tremendous opposition and slander, but he never stopped in his desire to serve God’s children. He touched millions of lives for good. His work was brilliant beyond his time, which is still being proven by modern science.
He had a knowing, a destiny, that has given so much to our world. He will be a great loss to the world, to those who knew and loved him, to our two sons Jacob and Josef, and to me. I will feel a void for the rest of my life, but I know that Gary will be smiling down on us as we try to figure out the things that he already knows.
Thank you for your love and support as we go forward together keeping Gary’s flame growing brighter as we continue to be a part of the mission that he envisioned decades ago.
With gratitude and love,