By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Farewell, Charles
Placeholder Image

Charles King was a man from many different times, times he remembered well and enjoyed sharing with others.

King, 96, became a master storyteller during his long life, earning the honor of Historian Laureate of Newton County, but following his death Saturday, it was time for others to share stories about him.

"One of the finest Southern gentlemen you'll ever know," former law partner Don Ballard said of King. "He and his father taught me everything I know about the law. Law school was nothing compared to what I learned from them."

"He was a first-class citizen, as were his parents," former Covington Mayor Bill Dobbs said. "He knew more about the history of Newton County than anyone, and he was glad to share it."

Born in Monroe in 1915, King spent the majority of his life in Covington. In a 2005 interview, King recalled those early years.

"The community I grew up in had paved sidewalks but not paved streets," King said. "There were as many mules and wagons as cars. Houses didn't receive paint often, and the owners - this is before Social Security - depended on roomers and boarders for income."

He knew hard times and was a bridge to some of the country's most difficult past.

"When I was coming up, it was pretty hard to get a job at all; highly paid jobs were not known around here," King said in 2005. "Professional athletes were poorly paid, as were entertainers. Doctors, lawyers and dentists worked for modest fees which their clients could afford, because there was no Medicaid and Medicare back then."
While he loved Covington, King left the city during some memorable times, including World War II.

When Congress enacted the draft in 1941, King was among the first to be called, nearly 10 months before Pearl Harbor. After completing officer candidate school, King was commissioned as a second lieutenant and eventually chosen for the Army Inspector General Corps.

He didn't deploy until 1944, and, as part of the eighth army staff, campaigned through New Guinea, including the invasion of Leyte and the liberation of the Philippines.
King was honorably discharged in 1946, but remained in the Army Reserve until 1969, when he retired as a lieutenant colonel.

However, the war was only one of the highlights in King's life. Before the war, he worked at the director of the Civilian Conservation Corps in Pine Mountains, Ga., supervising public works projects during the depth of the Great Depression.

He later served under Charlie Elliot, who was then director of Georgia state parks, and, at one point was employed by the Veterans Administration in Atlanta.

In 1947, he moved his family, wife Sally Lambe King, and their two children Sally and Barrett, to Washington, D.C., where he worked in the headquarters of Southern Railway.

He and his wife had been married in her family's home in Washington by the former pastor of Covington's First Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall, then Chaplain to the U.S. Senate.

He even dabbled in city government, when in 1951, the family moved to Barnwell, S.C., where King was city administrator.

King had earlier received his law degree from the Atlanta Law School and put it use full time in 1952, when he moved his family back to Covington and joined his father's law practice with Don Ballard; the law practice was renamed King, Ballard and King.

Ten years later, then Gov. Carl Sanders named King to the State Board of Workers' Compensation, where he served as deputy director and administrative law judge. He retired from the state in 1978 and established an Atlanta practice in workers' compensation and immigration and naturalization matters.

In retirement, King was not one to remain idle. He was a regular presence at city and county government meetings particularly when there were issues that might affect the quality of life or development of his beloved community.

"A real gentleman and a scholar," was how former Covington Mayor Sam Ramsey described King. "He was a walking encyclopedia of local history."

He was an active member of the Covington Kiwanis Club for 59 years, the Georgia Wildlife Federation, the Georgia Conservancy, the American Legion and the Newton County Mental Health Association and was a founding board member of Friends of Newton Parks.

While he loved history, King was just as concerned about the future of the county. He was an advocate for planned growth and even foresaw a glimpse of the current housing market troubles.

"The growth we have now I find somewhat bewildering," he said in 2005. "I have to say that I am concerned with the many large and expensive houses being purchased. I wonder where these folks are coming from and if their money will continue to keep these homes up."

King loved his community, because of its beauty, its history and its personality.

"It's been a pretty tolerant county," King said in 2005, with a wistful look on face, "in which saints and rascals could find some degree of acceptance, so long as they conducted themselves with some degree of consideration of others."

A memorial service for King will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Covington.

Reporter Amber Pittman contributed to this story.