Remembering Robert Lee King

Robert Lee King, a dear friend of Principle Gallery died March 5, 2022. He was an incredibly smart, kind, and strong person and we want to celebrate his legacy. A memorial celebration of Bob’s life will be held on Saturday, May 14th from 5:30-8 pm here in the gallery at 208 King Street Alexandria, VA 22314.

Bob was born on September 5, 1947, in Ft. Payne, Alabama to Mr. E.R. King and Nellie Durham King. He was raised in Rainsville, Alabama where his mother operated the Kings Family Restaurant. He took on every possible role in the restaurant in his younger years, which was a huge part of his work ethic and life view.

After graduating from Rainsville’s Plainview High School in 1965, Bob studied Mathematics and Physics at Jacksonville State University graduating with his B.S. in 1969. He joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to Costa Rica with a short tour in Puerto Rico. In Costa Rica, he helped families and small villages develop water systems for irrigation and safe drinking.

Bob (middle) with his friends Mr. and Mrs. Mead

Returning to the United States, Bob continued his education at Oklahoma State University and then the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He was a graduate assistant in both universities earning a master’s in mathematics from Alabama in 1974. Bob continued his studies for a Ph.D. and was a professor in UA’s math department. As a professor, he met, worked with, and studied under well-known, world-renowned physicists and mathematicians. He was inspired to leave academics and set off on a new adventure.

Solving business problems using logic and math was Bob’s art and science.  He quickly became a Senior Research Analyst at John M. Cockerham & Associates, and then a Vice President of Camber Corporation. He was a co-owner of an aircraft simulation company and sought out a source of experience and information in Geographic Information System mapping in the early days of this technology.

Bob was a great storyteller with many interesting escapades to share. He traveled extensively including the several-day journey on the entire Trans-Siberian Railway. He competed in three runs of the Great Race, a classic auto adventure requiring old-fashioned calculations of time and velocity to complete the course. He studied under, worked with, and befriended many of the early science space engineers. As a business consultant, he established company offices throughout the U.S. and traveled to each of them often. His sense of humor was one of a kind. “Comma, but…” was one of his quirky phrases.

Bob with his friends Lee & Diane Halvorsen

In 1994, Bob moved to Alexandria, VA, and purchased the Gilpin House at 208 King Street. The Gilpin House is a historic home in the heart of Old Town Alexandria that was built in the 1790s by George Gilpin, a founding father of the city. Bob spent the next 20+ years lovingly and meticulously restoring every inch of the building to its historic glory. 

Bob’s interests included antique cars, jazz music, college basketball, and making his family recipes of pecan pie and sweet potato casserole. Many people were touched by his generosity as he was always willing to help people in need.

Bob suffered from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for most of his adult life and was very generous to charities researching cures and aiding people with MS. He loved being a part of the Old Town Alexandria community. One of his favorite activities was “stoop sitting,” sitting on the front steps of 206 King Street, discussing the building renovations, and even offering tours to passersby. Every Saturday morning, he enjoyed French toast and extra crispy bacon at the Warehouse Bar and Grill.

Bob King is survived by his sisters:  Ernestine (Charles) Cothran of Huntsville, AL, Faye Nell King Lingerfeld of Rainsville, AL. Nephews: Brad (Tara) Cothran of Houston, TX. Nieces:  Tina (David) Allen of Fort Payne, AL, Leslie (Erskine) Thrasher of Ashville, NC, Shelley (Clay) Chitwood of Murfreesboro, TN, and Jan Cothran of San Diego, CA. Seven Great Nephews/Nieces and eight Great-Grand Nephews

Special Friends include; Lee & Diane Halvorsen and their children Kelsey and Kyle, Michele Marceau, Katya Ananieva, and Steve Novinger.

Bob by Valerio D’Ospina

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