Irwin H. King

Irwin H. King

KNOX — Irwin H. King, a man who seemed to have lived many lives in one, died surrounded by his family on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, at Cornerstone Hospice in The Villages, Florida. He was 85.

Growing up, Mr. King attended The Albany Academy, from which he was graduated in 1951. He entered the United States Army during the Korean War and earned the rank of corporal in 1954 before being discharged in 1956. He then re-entered Cornell University and earned a degree in Agricultural Journalism in 1958.

In 1982, Mr. King was one of two state employees chosen as a Senior Executive Fellow in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Mr. King’s first wife, Shirley Wells King, died in 2016. In a tribute from Mr. King’s family, she was described as a “caring and loving mother.” Together they had six children.

Mr. King was married to his second wife, Christie, for 45 years. They had adventures together including many trips across the globe and across the country in their recreational vehicle.

After graduating from Cornell University, Mr. King started working as a publications assistant for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. In 1962, he became a press officer in the former state Conservation Department and later was named Secretary to the Department.

After the department was merged with programs at the health department to form the Department of Environmental Conservation in 1970, Mr. King was appointed director of communications for the new agency. He served simultaneously as the executive director of both the State Environmental Board and the State Nature and Historical Preserve Trust.

While living with his wife, Christie, in Honeoye Falls in Monroe County, Mr. King was appointed the Regional Director for DEC Region Eight in western New York. He returned to the Capital Region in 1978 when he became the Assistant Commissioner for Regional Affairs in the central office. He retired from his service for the state in 1988.

While living in Knox, Mr. King started Sugar Bush Farm in 1962, where he produced maple syrup and grew Christmas trees. He later served as a Knox town justice for two consecutive terms after he was certified by Albany Law School.

His family wrote in a tribute that his retirement at age 56 marked the start of “fun” things. He earned his real estate license and “became a million-dollar seller in the first six months,” his family wrote. He continued operating his farm until 1994. He also worked as a reporter and photographer for The Altamont Enterprise.

“Irwin was a meticulous researcher and writer,” said Enterprise editor Melissa Hale-Spencer. “Our fathers, Ed Hale and Kirt King, had covered Albany politics in the 1960s and I think we both felt the weight of their legacy and were inspired by it, too.”

After selling the farm, Mr. King and his wife moved to New Bern, North Carolina. After “five years and six hurricanes,” they moved to The Villages, Florida in 2001, where Mr. King played and instructed pickleball and softball, and was a Little League umpire and a golfer who had two holes in one to boast of. He also worked as a Guardian ad Litem, a tax volunteer for the American Association of Retired Persons, and was the president of the Vista Sonoma Homeowners’ Association.


Mr. King is survived by his wife, Christie (Benjamin) King; his six children, Jeffrey King and his wife, Leighann, of Newport, New Hampshire; Linda Quay and her husband, David, of Knox; Lori King-Kocsis and her husband, Paul, of Palm Coast, Florida; Irwin King Jr. of Port Orange, Florida; Leah Oliver and her husband, Steven, of Altamont; and Allison Goebel and Tracy of New Smyrna Beach, Florida; his 18 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren; his siblings, Evelyn Golding and her husband, Richard, of Deposit, New York; and Kirtland King and his wife, LeAnne, of New Russia, New York; as well as his nieces and nephew.

His parents, Kirtland and Ruth King, died before him, as did his first wife, Shirley Wells King.

A celebration of Mr. King’s life was held at the Miona Recreation Center in The Villages, Florida on Dec. 8. He will be brought to rest at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida.

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