Gordon King

Professor Gordon S. King

King, Gordon S. of, Livingston, New York, formerly of Leverett, Massachusetts, died on Monday October 17, 2016.   He was 98 years old. Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey he was the son of the late James and Sarah Ellen King and the husband of the late Frances (Jolly) King.  Mr. King attended The University of North Carolina and Michigan State where he earned a Bachelor Degree in Urban Forestry. After graduation, one of Mr. King’s first jobs was managing a 5000-acre rubber tree plantation in Liberia for Firestone as it geared up for America’s anticipated entry into World War II. While in Liberia, he met the late Frances Jolly who was a missionary engaged in building schools and educating young children.  During her time in Liberia she was approached and enlisted by the OSS to covertly track the timing and volume of German shipping.  The two were married while still in Liberia. Upon their return Mr. King joined the faculty at the University of Massachusetts where he headed up the two year Arboriculture and Park Management Program at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, a positon he held until his retirement in in 1983. Prof King, as he was thereafter known, took a keen interest in his students and became a dear friend and mentor to countless individuals over the years. He and his wife Frances would often entertain students at their home in Leverett and provide them with a welcome break from the academic rigors of their studies. The extent to which both Professor King and his wife Frances had endeared themselves to his students was evident in the countless friendships that endured, long after graduation day.  Following Frances passing, Gordon became very close with the late Barbara Hamilton, a long time friend.

Professor King was an energetic individual who worked with numerous organizations to promote the professional development of the arboriculture industry including working with The Massachusetts Arborist Association, The International Society of Arboriculture (President 1980) and the Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters Association.  In his spare time Professor King ran a “pick your own” blueberry farm and Christmas Tree Farm on 35 acres of land that he owned in Leverett, which he eventually donated, to The Town. 

Professor King had a strong sense of civic responsibility as well and served as the volunteer Fire Chief in Leverett for over 35 years. He also helped to found the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust to help preserve open space within the Town of Leverett. In 2010 he was honored by the Trust for having formed and led a group of volunteers that collected over a million returnable bottles and cans that raised more than $50,000 dollars over a twenty-year period. These funds were used entirely to support the groups land preservation efforts.

Professor King is survived by a son, John King of Alva, Florida and a daughter, Muriel Laverty of Nicaragua.  Another son, James King, predeceased Professor King. His granddaughter Elizabeth Walter of Schodack, New York who along with her husband Paul provided loving care for him in his later years, also survives him. Numerous other grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews mourn his loss.

Former students, friends, neighbors and colleagues are invited to a reunion in Professor King’s memory on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 2 p.m. at Memorial Hall on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts.

Donations in Professor King’s memory can be made to The Gordon and Frances King Scholarship Fund administered by the Mass Arborists Association* , to the Massachusetts Tree Wardens and Foresters Association Scholarship Fund, or to The Town of Leverett Blueberry Fund.

Messages of condolence may be sent to Gordon’s son:

John King
109 Heroth Road
Fort Plain, New York 13339

* Memorial donations to the Gordon and Frances King Scholarship Fund should be made payable to the Massachusetts Arborists Association, Inc., 8-D Pleasant Street South, Natick, MA  07160.  

Under the Internal Revenue Code, the Massachusetts Arborists Association (MAA) is classified a 501(c)5: labor, agricultural or horticultural organization. Please be advised that, under the IRC regulations, contributions to the Gordon and Frances King Scholarship Fund through the MAA are not deductible as a charitable donation for federal income tax purposes on individual tax returns.