Richard D. King, an attorney, educator, and entertainer who had a passion for improving people’s lives, has died at the age of 84.
King, a member of the Rotary Club of Niles (Fremont), California, USA, served as Rotary International president in 2001-02. With the theme of Mankind Is Our Business, he encouraged members to extend compassion and aid to people in need and find workable solutions to the world’s persistent challenges. He said it is Rotary’s business to improve the quality of life in each of our communities.
He also asked members to reach out and welcome business and professional leaders into Rotary “who, like ourselves, have been given an opportunity to develop their talents and skills and want to use these abilities to help others.”
In a 2016 interview conducted by his Rotary club, King recounted an early experience that shaped his Rotary life. He was leading a Group Study Exchange trip to India when he accompanied a Rotarian doctor to a poor village. The doctor had performed cataract surgery, and with the patient’s children nearby, removed the bandages to determine whether she could see.
“For the first time in her life, she saw her own three children,” King recalled. “I’ll never forget the look on her face. I’ll never forget it. It seared me. She wasn’t the only one who got vision that day.”
King also served on the board of advisers of the Wheelchair Foundation and, through that and Rotary, participated in a project that provided thousands of wheelchairs to people around the world.
What King loved most about Rotary was helping people in need. “We help people regardless of their religion, regardless of their politics, regardless of their color, regardless of their language,” he said in the 2016 interview. “Every second of the day, ... we heal the sick. We save lives. We bring hope. And we bring peace. And that’s the thrust of Rotary. And in so doing, the Rotarian becomes a changed person.”
A Rotarian since 1968, King also served as an RI director, Rotary Foundation trustee, International Assembly group discussion leader, and district governor. He received The Rotary Foundation’s Citation for Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Award, as well as the PolioPlus Pioneer Award.
He was a senior partner in the law firm of King, King & King and a member of the American Association for Justice. He was admitted to practice law in California, in Utah, and before the U.S. Supreme Court. He held three degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and received an honorary doctorate in law from Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea. He taught law at Brigham Young University and received the BYU Management Society’s Humanitarian of the Year and Distinguished Public Service awards.
King was a distinguished military graduate of the University of California and served on active duty in the U.S. Army in military intelligence. Early in his career, he produced shows and performed as a singer in Las Vegas, at Lake Tahoe, in San Francisco, and in other cities.
King also was an active fundraiser for Boy Scouts of America and a member of the Commonwealth Club. He held the Degree of Chevalier and Legion of Honor from the Order of DeMolay and was inducted into the DeMolay International Hall of Fame. He was a recipient of an order of merit from Italy and a holder of the Tiradentes Medal from Brazil. He was a high priest of the Mormon Church.
King is survived by his wife, Cherie Kay King, and their two sons, Robert and Tyson. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Richard D. King Endowed Fund, created by District 5170, which will provide general support for the Rotary Peace Centers.