Born: July 29, 1868
Died: September 8, 1960
First Term: June 7,1910 - June 10, 1920
Second Term: January 3, 1928 - October 27, 1931
Donald Brenham McKay was born in Tampa, Florida, the grandson of James McKay, Sr. and the nephew of James McKay, Jr. both of whom served as mayor of Tampa. D.B. McKay attended school in Tampa until the age of fourteen when he became an apprentice printer for the Tampa Tribune newspaper. In 1893 began working for the Tampa Times newspaper. He eventually purchased it and served as the paper's editor and publisher from 1898 until 1933. He then wrote a popular column called Pioneer Florida, which was published in the Tampa Tribune, from approximately 1946 until 1960. On October 7, 1900, Mr. McKay married Aurora Gutierrez and the couple had seven children.
In 1910, McKay was elected mayor and served in this capacity for fourteen years. However, he despised the mayor-commissioner system and resigned after three months. He was elected in 1910 for a two-year term; re-elected in 1912 and 1916 for four-year terms. During his years as mayor, McKay implemented a huge expansion of public works projects - streets were paved, sidewalks built and sewer systems constructed throughout the city. In addition, construction on City Hall was completed (1915), the Lafayette Street (Kennedy Boulevard) Bridge was completed, Tampa's first public library opened (1917), brick fire stations were built as were the main buildings for the South Florida Fairgrounds.
While he remained de facto publisher of the Tampa Times, as mayor, D.B. McKay never used his position to unfairly benefit his newspaper with regards to reporting the news. Even reporters from the Tampa Tribune who fiercely competed with their Tampa Times colleagues always spoke of McKay's fairness. In 1927, Tampa voters approved a new City Charter that reinstated the mayor-city council form of government. Afterward, McKay decided to campaign for mayor again and was overwhelmingly elected to another four-year term.
During World War I, McKay was appointed by President Wilson to serve as chairman of the President's Advisory Committee for Southwest Florida to furnish confidential information regarding individuals being considered for positions in various phases of the war effort. D.B. McKay also served as Director of the First National Bank, President of the Tampa Board of Trade and was one of the founders and trustees of the University of Tampa. In 1949, McKay was appointed Hillsborough County Historian and began writing a column in the Sunday Tampa Tribune called Pioneer Florida which he continued writing until his death.
On August 8, 1960, the University of Tampa auditorium was renamed the Donald Brenham McKay auditorium in his honor. D.B. McKay passed away from heart failure in Tampa on September 8, 1960.
Sources for this Biographical Sketch:
Covington, Dr. James W. and Wavering, Debbie Lee, "The Mayors of Tampa: A Brief Administrative History," Tampa, FL: University of Tampa, 1987.
Grismer, Karl H., Tampa: A History of the City and the Tampa Bay Region of Florida, St. Petersburg Printing Company, FL, 1950.
Robinson, Ernest L., History of Hillsborough County, Florida: Narrative and Biographical, The Record Company, St. Augustine, FL, 1928.
Tampa Council Minutes, City of Tampa Archives, Tampa, FL
March 11, 1905 - December 7, 1910 Roll # 4
December 8, 1910 - September 15, 1913 Roll # 5
September 16, 1913 - February 20, 1917 Roll # 6
February 27, June 11, 1920 Roll # 7
June 1, 1926 - October 9, 1928 Roll # 10
October 16, 1928 - September 16, 1930 Roll # 11
September 23, 1930 - June 14, 1932 Roll # 1