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Columbia City High School
Alumni Association

600 N. Whitley St.
Columbia City, Indiana 46725
(260) 244-6136, Ext. 3459

Coach Herschell King Passes Away at Age 94

From The Post & Mail July 7, 2006:

Herschell Leland King, 94

June 14, 1912 - July 2, 2006

Herschell Leland King of Hamilton, Mont., died July 2, 2006, at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.

Weighing 12 pounds and coming into this world on the kitchen table, he was born on Flag Day, June 14, 1912, a son of Raymond and Essie King in the small town of Frankton. Flag Day was a perfect birthday for Hersch as he was a patriot, very proud of his country. As an infant he escaped diphtheria which claimed the life of his 7-year-old brother.

His love of fishing was evident at an early age as he would walk the banks of Pipe Creek behind his house, fishing for small mouth bass. His parents, because of losing their oldest child and fearing for the safety of their young son, forbid him to go to the river by himself, but Hersch would not be deterred from his desire to catch the big one. Out of frustration and concern for his safety, his parents chained him to a tree in the yard. Hersch outfoxed them by bribing his younger sister Erma Lee with candy in exchange for a file with which he could free himself to go fishing at the river.

His father was a funeral director. He decided that this would not be his career when he assisted his father in retrieving a farmer's body after he had been gored by a bull. However, another bull played a part in his life when the bull charged him while he fished along Pipe Creek. He climbed a tree and for nearly two hours the bull snorted, butted, and pawed at the base of the tree. But rescue was at hand when a bulldog appeared, a dog known in the small community as being mean-spirited but for some reason had befriended Hersch. He called the bulldog which took on the bull biting its flanks. The wounded bull left in a trail of blood. The owner later sued Hersch's father but did not prevail.

Mr. King led a full, exciting, and fortunate life. He knew the word "timing" as well as anyone for as a teenager he was riding in a car with three friends who decided to go to a silent movie in Elwood. He asked them to stop at his house so that he could change his clothes. While waiting for him, the teenagers drove around the block where they were hit by a train, and all were killed.

He began his college days at Purdue University and then transferred to Ball State University where he received his degree in industrial arts. He later received his Masters Degree in guidance and counseling from Ball State. While an undergraduate, he earned two letters in baseball and three in basketball. He played under college basketball Hall of Fame coach Branch McCracken who later went on to win two national championships at Indiana University. He played against such players as Hall of Famers Ray Meyer, Moose Krause of Notre Dame and John Wooden of Purdue. But baseball was his love. Just hours before his cardiac arrest at the hospital, he told his granddaughter that he was so upset that the NBA selection show had pre-empted the baseball game on ESPN. After graduation at Ball State, he signed a contract with the Indianapolis Indians, a minor league baseball team.

One of his few misfortunes occurred the winter before he was to report to the team. In this winter of his first year of teaching industrial arts, as he was trying to save a student from an accident with a power saw, he cut off the first joint of his index and middle finger. This caused him to be unable to throw from his catcher's position, and ended his future with his beloved baseball. Even with this disappointment, perhaps his only regret in his 94 years is that his Chicago Cubs never won the World Series.

From age 22 to 25, he coached the Frankton basketball team to a 30-24 record, losing 15 games by a score of 4 points or less. He chose to resign as coach after that saying in later years that his team was full of talent, and the only reason for the close losses was the coach. However, years later he helped mold the lives of young men at the high school in Columbia City, coaching basketball, baseball, and golf.

Mr. King was a true educator, passionate about how curriculum should be designed to reach the varied abilities and interests of all students. His contributions were exemplary. As a guidance counselor in the high schools in Columbia City and Marion, he was instrumental in guiding and preparing students for entrance in the military academies, Ivy League schools, and other schools of higher learning. But true to his belief in challenging all students, he worked equally as hard to guide the non-college-bound students into training programs and vocational education. He also went to businesses and industries creating opportunities for non-graduate employees to receive their high school diploma.

However outstanding his accomplishments, this all paled in comparison to his life as a husband and father. The importance of family and family values was the very core of him - family was everything.

He married Elizabeth Hollis on Christmas Day, 1937, thus beginning their marriage - their love story. His devotion to his wife and hers to him is an inspiration to his family and those who knew him.

Survivors include his loving wife Elizabeth (Liz), of 68-years, who is strong knowing that his love, his strength of character and positive outlook will always be a part of her and all the family. He is also survived by a daughter Judy (Lee) Yockey; a son, Tom (Diane) King; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren and a niece.

At his request there will be no service. Arrangements are under the care of the Daly-Leach Chapel in Hamilton, Mont.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund in his name has been established at all of the branch offices of Farmers State Bank for Marcus Daly Hospital EMS/Ambulance.

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2005 Columbia City High School Alumni Association.           This page last updated 08/06/2012