On Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021, James E. King, at 101 years of age, passed away peacefully at home, or as he would have phrased it, “climbed the mountain.” Jim was born to Roy and Myrtle King July 11, 1920 in Okaton, South Dakota. Jim cherished his growing up years on their ranch with his dog Shep, horse Buddy, cattle and wide open spaces. Buddy was his primary transportation to the one room Roundup School. In 1936 his family relocated to Ponca, Nebraska where Jim finished high school. Following high school Jim headed to Utah. He attended Weber College and Utah State earning a bachelor's degree. From there he moved on to the University of Idaho to work on his master's degree. His education was interrupted by WWII. Jim served first in the Navy and then in the Army Air Force in Southern Europe, India, Africa and the Pacific. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and after two and a half years of faithful service he was granted an honorable discharge. Jim then returned to the University of Idaho to complete his master's degree in forestry research.
In December of 1948, Jim accepted a position with Weyerhaeuser at the research center in Centralia, Washington. He had a productive 38 year career at Weyerhaeuser. While employed Jim completed a PhD program in Forestry Research at the University of Washington. He managed Douglas fir research, developing the still widely used King's 50- Year Site Index Tables. Jim's research took him as far away as Europe, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. He received several awards including the Fellow of the Year from Society of American Foresters, Distinguished Achievement Award from the Alumni Association of the University of Washington and awards for Outstanding Service to the Society of Forestry Profession. After retiring from Weyerhaeuser Jim did some consulting at both Oregon State and University of Washington. His big pleasure, however, was growing and providing Christmas trees for numerous relatives, friends and his church.
Jim always claimed the very best and most important decision of his life was to marry Suzanne Smith of Spokane, Washington. Jim and Sue made Centralia, Washington their home where they raised seven children. Jim and Susie supported their children in a vast range of endeavors. Their doors were always open to multiple friends of the seven children and extra places were frequently set at the table. Jim was a great tease and storyteller, had a wonderful dry sense of humor, a strong patriot, paid careful attention to detail and was a perfect speller. He was an active member of Knights of Columbus, avid photographer, superb gardener and landscaper, and a lifelong tree planter.
Shortly after the passing of his beloved Susie he moved to the Serenity Adult Family Home. During his three years there he remained industrious, assembling 51 albums full of family history and memorabilia. He will be greatly missed.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, brother Gene, and sister Betty, grandsons Isaac Hanna and Jon King, daughter Amy King Robinson, and wife of 64 years, Susie. He is survived by his sister Marita Montgomery of Huron, South Dakota; daughter Teresa (John) Hanna of Vancouver, Washington; son James (Melissa) King of Winthrop, Maine; daughter Mary King of Bonney Lake, Washington; son Matt (Kim) King of Bend, Oregon; son Stephen (Patricia) King of Portland, Tennessee; daughter Kathy Wood (Jose Fuentes) of Centralia, Washington; son-in-law Urano Robinson of Sammamish, Washington; informally adopted son Trung Vu of Kansas City, Missouri; eleven grandchildren and six great-granddaughters.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church September 3 at 11 a.m. with a cemetery service to immediately follow mass. A reception will be held at 2 p.m. at Riverside Golf Club in Chehalis. Donations in Jim’s honor may be made to the Veterans Memorial Museum, 100 SW Veterans Way, Chehalis, WA 98532.