WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County educational community lost a member Saturday, as board of education member Charles L. King, 82, of West Jefferson, died at his home Sept. 22.
Born Sept. 4, 1936, King grew up in Lansing, graduating Lansing High School and attending Lees-McRae College and North Carolina State University.
Through his life, King worked as the agriculture teacher at Beaver Creek High School, for 33 years. After retiring, King spent more than 24 years on the Ashe County Board of Education, serving as board chairman for about 20 years.
“Charlie was loved by everybody,” ACS Superintendent Phyllis Yates said. “He was just a good, solid Christian man, and his sole interest was what’s best for kids. He’s been a mentor to other board members, a mentor to me and just a fine gentlemen.”
Dr. Lee Beckworth, vice chair of the board of education, who was scheduled to speak at King’s funeral, said King was a knowledgeable and involved teacher, and a better person.
“He was a gentle, humble and a very approachable, likable person with the highest integrity and character,” Beckworth said. “Everybody that knew him thought highly of him.”
While an involved teacher, King was also involved at Friendly Grove Baptist Church.
King taught sunday school for about 59 years and was a deacon in the church for most of his adult life, according to Friendly Grove Baptist Church Senior Pastor Kevin York. In his tenure, King also served as a trustee and the church treasurer.
“He was a very humble man, but very devoted and dedicated,” York said. “He loved the Lord. He lived out his faith, not just here at church, but in the community. He was a Christian man.”
York said it was an honor serving alongside King, adding that it was a greater honor to be King’s friend.
“It’s hard to replace somebody like him,” York said. “They don’t make them like him anymore.”
Another board of education member King had a strong effect on is Terry Williams. Working with King at Beaver Creek High School, Williams has been on the Ashe County Board of Education for eight years, and he said he considers King a mentor.
“He was certainly one of the finest men I have ever met,” Williams said. “His integrity is beyond question. He cared deeply about the Ashe County School System. He spent 50 years caring for both students and for staff, trying to make Ashe County School System the best school system it could possibly be.”
Williams got to know King on a personal level, as King rode with Williams to board meetings for the past five years. Williams said his conversations with King helped him become a better board member.
“He made me better by listening to him talk about what the goals of a board member should be,” Williams said. “The focus should be on the kids and on the school system. Nothing else. You shouldn’t be on the board if you have an axe to grind — you should be on the board for the right reason. His compassion stood out to me.”
Williams, who was with King two days prior to his passing, said King cared more about the school system than anyone.
“It was emotional for me, because I grew to love that man,” Williams said. That’s the kind of profound effect that he had on me. He’s been right there behind me for eight years, and I’ll never forget what I’ve learned from him. I can’t replace that, and I’m going to miss him dearly.”
The family received friends from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, and the funeral was scheduled at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at Friendly Grove Baptist Church, with a burial to follow in the Hardin Family Cemetery.