29 Apr M Alan King
Merhle Alan King, who went by Alan, was born February 25, 1929 in the King family farmhouse in Brink of upper Montgomery County to Elizabeth B. and Merhle U. King. At 85 years old, my father was released from his dementia of 9 years and peacefully transitioned to, well, only he knows for sure, but I’m sure he’s in a great place.
We realized that Dad’s life was changing forever when, after initially setting out on his twice daily 10- mile drive to feed his horses, he instead embarked on an unintended venture that took him through Pennsylvania, where eventually he was left stranded when his old truck ran out of fuel and motor oil at 3:30 in the morning. Thankfully a tattoo artist in Erie, Pennsylvania was there to rescue Dad that morning and contact his family. Sadly, at that point, we knew we were losing him but we sure gave him high points for style and adventure. Those who loved him prefer to think that the quiet dementia of his last nine years were spent reliving the best parts of his life in his mind.
His wife, Margaret Watkins King, used to tell the story how the county courthouse where she worked closed early to watch the games when Dad played both baseball and football for Richard Montgomery High School. Perhaps it’s just a wishful urban legend, but I’m not going to question it because, after all, it’s Mom’s story and she was there.
In life, my father just wanted to be a dairy farmer on the farm where he was born and raised. To him it wasn’t work, it was a passion. And if you know all that farming entails, you realize that’s the way it should be. Despite all his duties in running the family farm Dad still made time to chauffeur and quietly mentor me, Margo King, his only child. Additionally, Dad also loved bird hunting and coaching a local baseball team, the Tacoma Black Socks.
Traveling the fair circuit with his prized Holstein cows was where the proof of his dairy breeding ability shined. In addition to that, Dad was also instrumental in convincing his parents to invest in Paclamar Astronaut, the Gold Medal Sire that proved to be a very wise investment. Later in life, I marveled at his boatmanship on the bay, though I wasn’t surprised that he could master anything he was passionate about. Golf was a possible exception, where he was perhaps a bit too anxious to ignore wild strokes and fudge on a scorecard.
Dad was a quiet, sweet and humble man, who served his country in the Army during the Korean War, and he raised his family with a great work ethic and gentle spirit. There was nothing about my Dad not to love. In fact, in our entire lives neither of us ever so much as raised our voice at the other. Others find that remarkable but I guess that only shows what a remarkable man my father was. He was devoted to my mother Margaret in her final years dealing with cancer. Likewise, his sisters Cecile King-Jones and Mary (King) Hornberger were devoted to him in his last years. Mary, who lives in Florida, always made it a point to visit Dad on her trips back to Maryland. Cecile, who lived next door to my father and mother, made weekly visits to spend time with Dad at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mt. Airy, MD.
For me, living on the opposite coast and not able to visit as often, Cecile’s weekly visits with my Dad, and daily visits with him in his final days in the Dove House Hospice Care facility, meant the world to me and I’m sure to Dad as well.
When a loved one dies, I’ve always felt that they leave one of their special gifts. My father’s gift came earlier in my life; it’s his love of animals and the gentle nurturing care of them that adds to the fulfillment of my life every day.