Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wallace J. 'Wally' King

Wallace Joseph King, “Wally,” age 90, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, December 27, 2012, at home.  He was born in Antigo, WI, February 17, 1922, son of the late Joseph and Isabelle (Nee: Wilde) King.

Wally met the love of his life, Elizabeth “Betty” Wilson,  at the Polar Country Club in Antigo, WI, on New Year's Eve, 1940.  They were united in marriage in Manitowoc, WI, on October 10, 1942.  1942 was also the year Wally joined the U.S. Navy and served during WWII as a Radioman.  His tours of duty took him to England, North Africa, the Mediterranean, Italy and Sicily.  Sixty-eight years later, one of his most memorable and proudest days was November 6, 2010, when he and a plane full of other WWII veterans flew to Washington, D.C., aboard an Honor Flight.

Wally was employed as a Stereotyper at the Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee Journal and the Racine Journal Times.  He was very community minded and joined the Tuesday Optimist Club in 1972 and served as Secretary/Treasurer for the Friday Optimists for over 40 years.  He also served on the board of the Racine Raiders, was a volunteer for Toys for Tots and was a member of the Moose Club.  He worked at the Cesar Chavez Center, formerly Douglas Park, for almost 30 years, coaching basketball, helping senior citizens groups, supervising in the Pool Room and elsewhere amongst many other duties.  Wally worked with generations of children, all of whom loved and respected him.

An avid music fan, Wally played trumpet in a band in his early years and also marched with the Boys of 76 Drum and Bugle Corps.  He never missed an opportunity to hear live music and the Big Bands were his favorites.  Whenever he walked into a room with a familiar band or group playing they would automatically play “All of Me,” his all-time favorite song. Wally was a volunteer with the Animal Crackers Concert Series from its inception, bringing the food for the performers before the shows.  He never missed a concert until this past summer.  He was inducted into the Animal Crackers Hall of Fame.  Above all, Wally was a devoted father and grandfather who will be dearly missed.

Surviving are his children, Judith (Duane) Sweeney of Milwaukee, Barbara King Page of Portland, OR, Kathleen King of Racine, Patrick King of Philadelphia, PA, Christopher King of Wausau, WI; seven  grandchildren, Craig Sweeney, Jill Jurena, Elizabeth Calderon, Jennifer Breaux, Amanda Conley, Taylor Schult, and Shane King; eight great-grandchildren, McCormick Sweeney, Kennedy Sweeney, Haley Jurena, Annabelle Jurena, Calin Breaux, Smith Breaux, Madelyn Breaux and Asher Kzaz; sister-in-law, Norma Wilson; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.  In addition to his parents, Wally was preceded in death by his wife Betty Jane on March 7, 2006; brothers, Harold, Donald, Hollace and Bruce King, and sisters, Luella Williams, Dorothy Martin, and Geneva McGeorge.

Relatives and friends are invited to gather with the family at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, 625 College Ave., on Wednesday, January 2, 2013, from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m.  A memorial service will follow from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. with the Rev. Dr. Tony Larsen officiating.  Private interment with full military honors will be held at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery at a later date.

The Fourth of July was Wally’s favorite holiday.  He never missed a parade and always held a picnic afterward on his backyard deck. A celebration of his life will take place on July 6, 2013, at 2 p.m. at The Yardarm where he spent many an evening among friends listening to music. There will be a reminder announcement in the paper in June.  Memorials to the family would be appreciated.

A special thank you to Rachel Cortez, good friend and loving nurse, who took exceptional care of Wally through the years, and also to Karen Burmeister, family neighbor of 47 years, for her friendship and loyalty.

803 Main St., Racine  (262) 634-7888

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