ATHENS - William Dabney King, 89, died Saturday, January 28, 2012.
A native of Colbert, he was the son of the late Henry Grady King and Lillie Estelle King.
A graduate of Colbert High School, Athens Business College and the American Institute of Banking, "Bill" King's life was changed forever - and, he always said, for the better - when after briefly working for the Madison County Board of Education he entered the United States Army in World War II, serving in the Transportation Corps in Europe. Stationed in the town of Abergavenny, Wales, in the run up to D-Day, he met and became engaged to a Welsh girl, Mary Elizabeth Primrose Parry, known as Mollie. His permission to marry was signed by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. But before they could get married the invasion of France was under way and he ended up stationed in Paris.
Thus was launched one of the great adventures of Mr. King's life. Wanting to get married in the fall of 1944 and with furloughs not available, he volunteered for courier duty and flew over the English Channel with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist to deliver it to London. Once there, he obtained verbal permission from a captain to travel by train to Wales and get married, but the officer warned him, "If you get picked up by MPs, your papers say London, so you'll be considered AWOL and I never heard of you."
Nonetheless, Mr. King made it to Wales, the wedding took place and by that evening he was back in London and then headed back to Paris.
After the war, the couple settled in Athens, where Mr. King began work for C&S National Bank on June 1, 1946. During his 37 years with C&S, he worked in operations, was manager of the Installment Loan Department, pioneered bank charge cards in Athens as manager of the C&S Charge Account Service, was longtime manager of the Prince Avenue branch, was a banking officer and wound up his career as manager of sales finance operations and was named an assistant vice president of the bank before his retirement in 1983. On his retirement, Mr. King was feted by the local car dealers he'd worked with at a party thrown by the bank.
Golf was a major passion of Mr. King's, and he was for many years a member of the Athens Country Club. When anticipating possible retirement, he told one of his sons that he didn't know whether he could "play golf five days a week," but he did indeed do that for 20 years.
But in retirement Mr. King also kept busy running the Optimist International Junior Golf Tournament for Evening Optimist Club of Athens. Mr. King served as president of the club and for many years was its finance chairman. He was named Optimist of the Year and was granted a Life Membership in Optimist International.
Mr. King was always heavily involved in the civic life of Athens, serving as president of the Athens Jaycees and the Downtown Athens Merchants Council and on the board of the local branch of the American Heart Association. He was a longtime member of the First Baptist Church of Athens, where he had served as chairman of the Sunday School department.
Mr. King was also a lifetime supporter of the Georgia Bulldogs, with one of the most notable highlights of his fandom coming in the national championship season of 1942 when Mr. King attended a major game without a ticket and an assistant coach took pity on him and gave him a sideline pass as a "high school prospect." Mr. King eventually sent all three of his sons to the University of Georgia.
After 64 years of marriage, Mr. King's wife Mollie, a longtime columnist for The Athens Observer, died in November 2008. Mr. King was also preceded in death by a brother, Joe Neal King of Columbus.
Survivors include a brother, Larry Wayne King, Lexington, and wife Sheila Tiller King; three sons, William Parry King and wife Leslie Thornton King, Decatur, Jonathan Parry King and wife Lisa Young King, Watkinsville, and Timothy Parry King, Snellville; five grandchildren, Jennifer King Rudd and husband John Rudd of Statham, Melissa King, Watkinsville, Caroline King, Athens, William King, Washington, D.C., and Olivia King of Decatur; and one great-grandson, Gabriel Rudd, Statham.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 1, at the First Baptist Church of Athens with Jon Appleton officiating. The family will receive friends at Bernstein Funeral Home from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, January 31.
Bernstein Funeral Home, Athens, is in charge of arrangements.