William Edgar King was born Aug 6, 1929, to Thomas Boyd King and Lita Pearl (McPherson) King in Abilene, Texas. He attended Alta Vista Elementary and was in the first class at the new South Junior High, later Jefferson Middle School, where his two grandchildren also attended. He played trumpet in the Abilene High School Eagle Band, graduating in 1946.
He attended Hardin-Simmons University from 1947 to 1950, a proud member of The World Famous Cowboy Band. During his time in the Cowboy Band, the group traveled all over the Southwest U.S., as well as to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City.
King was a charter member of the Cowboy Band Foundation, serving as president during the time money was raised to build the Cowboy Band Hall on the HSU campus. A painting of Dr. King hangs in the Cowboy Band Hall on its Wall of Fame in honor of his long lasting and generous support of the band.
King was also a member of HSU’s John G. Hardin Society, which plays a significant role in maintaining the long-term fiscal stability of the university and its ability to plan for the future.
King went on to Baylor School of Dentistry in Dallas and served two years active duty in the Navy, stationed in Japan, Hawaii, and Corpus Christi. In 1955 he married Val Jean Sherman while stationed at Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station, Hawaii. In 1956 he opened his dental practice in Dallas, moving back to Abilene in 1960, where he limited his practice to children.
Dr. King was an active member of the Cactus Lions Club for many years, serving as District Governor for District 2E-1 in 1979-80. He truly believed in the work of the Texas Lion's Camp at Kerrville and their camps for handicapped and diabetic children.
King also enjoyed serving the Boy Scouts, earning the rank of Eagle Scout in Troop 6, which is now Troop 206, and served in various leadership positions including Scoutmaster. Later, his son Boyd, and grandson James, also earned the rank of Eagle in the same troop. In his later years, he would brag about being a "bald Eagle."
King’s father grew up as one of 14 children on a farm which later became part of Dyess AFB, and he always felt a special connection to the base. Family tradition holds that the Heritage Club was built on the site of the family farmhouse.
William served on the Military Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Commerce for over 20 years, and was honorary commander of the base dental clinic for 13 years. He designed the lapel pin for the committee which is still in use today; so he had a special joy and pride when his grandson, Capt. James King, became a B-1 pilot stationed at Dyess in 2009.
King was a member of the First Baptist Church choir, the Memory Men barbershop group, the Celebration Singers, and the Rose Park Senior Citizens gospel group. His love of music was passed on to his son and grandchildren: Boyd and James both played the trumpet at Cooper High School and in college, while Julia studied voice and performed in choirs and musical theater.
Bill was a true “people person” and never met a stranger. He will be remembered for his friendliness and humor. William never missed an opportunity to tell others how neighborly and genuine West Texans are, and how privileged he felt to have lived here most all of his life.
He was preceded in death by his mother and father, and wife Val Jean King, who died in January 2002. He is survived by his son, Boyd King and wife Lynn, of Abilene; grandson Capt. James King and wife Capt. Heidi King, of Abilene; granddaughter Julia Kimball, husband Robert, and great-grandson Caedmon, of Mineral Wells.
King died Sunday, June 17, 2012, at his residence. A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday June 23, 2012, at First Baptist Church of Abilene. A visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Friday, June 22, 2012, at the funeral home, 733 Butternut St, Abilene.
Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, Attn: Jeannie Jowers, 1333 N. 3rd St., Abilene, TX, 79601; Cowboy Band Foundation, Box 15220, Abilene, TX, 79698; or Texas Trails Council, B.S.A., Boy Scouts of America, 1208 N. 5th St., Abilene, TX, 79601.