Big Al: King to our kids

Al King

  By Tim Chambers
star staff
  From the mountains of Cranberry, N.C., to the hills of Elizabethton, Tenn., Al King has been a blessing among young and old. Simply known as "Big Al" King is a fixture among many Carter Countians.
  King served as executive director for the Carter County Boys and Girls Club from 1977 to 1991.
  "It was the most enjoyable and rewarding jobs that I ever held," stated King. "It was an opportunity to teach kids about the fundamentals of life."
  King was a standout for the Cranberry Wildcats from 1946 to 1950. At 6-6, he was the only player to ever start as a freshman in basketball.
  He was named all-state his senior season, with scholarship offers coming from North Carolina State, Elon and Tennessee Wesleyan.
  King played for Wesleyan before deciding to try the semi-pro route, joining forces with the Oak Ridge Plexies before moving on to Washington D.C. to play for the FBI.
  He later played on a semi-pro team out of Jacksonville, Fla. before deciding upon going to the Army. In 1953, King met Margaret Winters and one year later married the former Cloudland High School basketball standout. Recently, they renewed their marriage vows after 50 happy years.
  King served as a coach in youth sports for over 25 years before becoming director of the Boys and Girls club. Yours truly worked with Al for seven years at the club during my high school and college days.
  "Those were special time back then," said King. "Back then we weren't even sure if we would get paid or not."
  King touched on the times of sweeping water over ankle deep out of the old club so kids could come and play pool or ping pong.
  "Sometimes I wonder how we got by with what we had as opposed to how may kids showed up at the club," stated King. "We had you and a couple more, but we just did the best with what we had to work with. I was blessed to have good people working around me."
  Today, King is in the nursing home unit at the VA hospital in Johnson City recovering from recent hip replacement surgery. King endured great pain over the summer, but was always there to keep the book and do the announcing at the Elizabethton National Little League games.
  "I just love to be around the kids," added King. "I just want to try and set a good example for them to live by."
  King would always invite fans at the Little League to his church if they didn't have a home church. On Saturday's after the last game, he would always remind fans to get up and go worship on Sunday morning.
  King has been a member of Borderview Christian Church for 46 years. He has served in the past as an elder, deacon, Bible school and Sunday school director.
  "I've found out over the years without the Lord in your life you don't have anything," stated King. "We owe everything we have to Him."
  King is happy for the current club with all the upgraded facilities they have.
  "It was long overdue for the kids of Carter County," he said. "They deserve a place where they can go and be proud of."
  The Kings are the parents of five children: Terry, Beverly, Tammy, Ladonna and Chris, who lost his life in an automobile accident.
  "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him," said Al.
  King touched on his nine grandchildren -- Dakota Rutherford; Casey, Karson, Christianna and Laura Raigh King; Ryan and Jared Deskins; and Michael and Mitchell Blevins -- as being the pride and joy of his life.
  "I thank God for my grandchildren every day," said Al. "Each one is very special to me."
  King had this advice for today's youth.
  "Always do your best in whatever you do and live a life that's pleasing to the Lord," he said.
  For those who would like to contact King, he is in building 162, room 136, at the Johnson City VA Hospital.