We are grieved to report the passing of James R. (Doc) King, World War II pilot, veterinarian, rancher, and family man.
Doc was born the second of three sons on October 15, 1921 in White Butte, South Dakota. In 1923, his parents, Ward and Ella King, relocated with other members of their family to Kingston, Washington where they purchased a 160 acre “stump ranch”. It was here he and his brothers spent their childhood, learning the values of initiative, work, and commitment that so many of his generation knew.
At age 19 he enlisted in the Army Air Force and was sworn in as aviator cadet on March 11, 1942. After completing flight school, he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and assigned to fly the much-heralded C-47 Dakota. He was eventually assigned the 36th Squadron, 316th Troop Carrier Group of the 9th Air Force. During his military career he flew over 1000 combat hours. His group dropped paratroopers, evacuated the wounded, towed gliders, and flew re-supply missions in the North African, Mediterranean, and European Theaters. Of note, he dropped troopers at St. Mere Eglise on D-day and Nijmegen during operation Market Garden.
With his discharge as a 1st lieutenant in December, 1944, Doc began the next stage of his life by promptly marrying his sweetheart, Dorothy Randolph, of St. Louis, Missouri. In the fall of 1945, he took advantage of the educational opportunity offered by the GI Bill, by entering the School of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University.
After graduation in 1950, he took his family back to his home town and established what was to be a thriving large and small animal veterinary practice in Poulsbo, Washington. Three children, Jim, Gary, and Mila, eventually were born. Doc practiced in Poulsbo for 32 years, then retired to operate a part time veterinary practice in Chelan, Washington. At the same time, he and Dorothy also owned and operated a 100-head cattle ranch on Upper Joe Creek near Manson. Finally in 1995, they sold the farm and practice to re-retire to a small acreage near Omak where they built a home, raised alfalfa and a few head of beef cattle.
After Dorothy’s death in 2009, he sold the Omak property to settle in at Apple Springs Assisted Living where he spent much of his time with family and friends.
Doc died after a short illness at Colonial Vista Retirement home in Wenatchee on June 22, 2013.
So who was this man we called Dad, Grandpa, Great Grampa, and Uncle? In the eyes of his family, he was revered. His family was his pride and he let them know it at every turn. He was a quiet and modest man who enjoyed good humor. He made every child feel special and important, teaching them the value of work and the joy of play in the outdoors. He was a man who saw only the best in others (well maybe not always, as some politicians earned his ire). He had friends but few, if any, enemies. He was a law-abiding good citizen. He had ethics in his business and personal dealings. He enjoyed nature. He was a doer who did not wait for others to lead.
For fun he liked to fish and hunt. Salmon fishing was a weekly ritual. Each Thursday, he would close his practice and travel the short distance to Point No Point to fish the wily salmon. An excerpt from a local news paper sport page fishing report read as follows “Leo Studach of Point No Point Resort reported only one angler on the water yesterday. Doc King caught 15 and 17 pounders and lost a big one.” When his good fishing partner, Archie Webster, passed away, Doc was concerned that Archie would have the River Jordan fished out before he got there.
Doc enjoyed many different organizations. He was past master of the Kingston Grange, member of the Trailblazers horse club, Kingston Gun Club, a square dance club with Dorothy, and was active in the Okanogan Fly Club. He was of the Catholic faith.
Doc was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dorothy, in 2009. He is survived by son, Jim King, and Jim's wife, Pam King, in Omak; son, Gary King, Seattle, and daughter, Mila Hart and her husband, Paul, in East Wenatchee. He is also survived by five grandchildren, Steve King of Wenatchee, Barbara (King) Scheer of San Francisco, Ben Hart of Spokane, Elizabeth (Hart) Hirsch of Wenatchee, and Heather (Hart) Ray of Port Angeles; eight great-grandchildren; and family friend, Mary King.
A Remembrance Gathering will be held at a later date. To leave memories and messages of condolences for his family, please visit his online tribute at www.HeritageMemorialChapel.com. Arrangements are in the care of Heritage Memorial Chapel, East Wenatchee.