Mr. Hennon Leon King
Surrounded and lifted up by the love of his immediate and extended family, Mr. Hennon Leon King, 79, passed away at his home in LaFayette, shortly after noon on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Throughout his 51 years in the area, Mr. King wore many hats – husband, father, grandfather, friend, businessman, community servant, and philanthropist – and wore them all well. He touched the lives of countless people throughout Chambers County and East Central Alabama. While a man of few words, those who knew Mr. King recognized him as a person of integrity – hard-working, disciplined, generous, and a man of his word.
Born June 14, 1941, in Trion, Georgia, Mr. King grew up on and around Sand Mountain, where he graduated from Sylvania High School in 1959. After graduation, he adventurously set out to build a new life in far off Chicago, where he took a job working in the railroad industry. After a time, his love of automobiles led him to hauling cars back and forth to Alabama, fixing them up and then reselling them.
Eventually, he moved back to Alabama where he officially began his career in automobile sales, working for Proctor Ford in Centre for a few years. When Ford Motor Company offered him the opportunity to open his own dealership in either Talladega or LaFayette in 1968, he chose LaFayette and opened his first showroom doors at the old LaFayette Theatre on Feb. 1, 1969.
King Ford soon moved to a new location on Highway 50 where it remained for several years. Then, in December 1985, the dealership moved to its present location at the intersection of I-85 and Fob James Drive. Over the next 35 years, King Ford evolved into King Auto Corner, eventually adding the Lincoln, Mercury, Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Chevrolet, and Kawasaki brands to its selection of vehicles.
As a salesman, Mr. King relied upon honesty, fairness, treating people like he wanted to be treated, and taking care of customers after the sale to build the dealership into a thriving, local success story. While he had a 51-year love affair with automobiles and the automobile business, it was people that he met and the relationships that he built through it that he cherished the most. He always tried to help people to learn to help themselves, but if they could not, then he helped them anyway. Many who genuinely knew him have what they have today because of the lessons that they learned from him.
In addition to his automobile dealership, Mr. King was successful in several other business ventures over the years. He founded King Power, which he owned for about 15 years. He also was a partner in bringing the very first cable television operation to LaFayette. He enjoyed his farm, loved working and improving his land, and was very involved in local timber production. He advised virtually everyone who would listen, “You need to plant trees.” Whatever Mr. King tackled, he worked hard at, wryly saying that he always put in a “half a day’s work” then chuckling as he explained that his “half a day” meant 12 hours.
Mr. King was also very involved and generous when it came to the local educational, civic and business community. He was an avid supporter of Chambers Academy in LaFayette, serving as a member of its board for 33 years, as well as being a major patron of the development of Point University in nearby West Point. He was active in the local Rotary Club and The Sportsman’s Club. He was a longtime member of the boards of the local Industrial Development Association and Farmers and Merchants Bank.
Social organizations were an important part of Mr. King’s life. He was a member of Solomon’s Lodge, No. 74, of the 32 Degree Masons in LaFayette, as well as the Scottish Rite and Alcazar Shriners of Montgomery.
Over the years, he received numerous honors. He won many Ford district dealer of the year awards, as well as national Kawasaki Dealer of the Year honors. Because of his civic and business contributions to their community, in 2008 the City of Valley held Hennon King Day in his honor and named the overpass crossing I-85 on Fob James Drive Hennon King Bridge.
Mr. King was predeceased by his parents, Curtis L. King and Nellie L. King; as well as by sister, Charlotte Porter; brother, Ragan King, both of LaFayette; and a sister, Brenda Paulette King, who passed away in childhood.
Mr. King is survived by his devoted wife, Barbara Prestwood King, of LaFayette, to whom he has been married for 48 years. He also leaves behind his loving children, Terri King Talley (Lamar), of LaFayette; Hennon Leon (JR) King, Jr. (Stella), of Lanett; Lisa King Wheless (Russ), of Panama City Beach, Florida; and Tanya King Waldrop (David), of Five Points. Mr. King’s surviving grandchildren include, April Talley Phillips (Josh), of LaFayette, Langley Jane King of Lanett, Bradley Talley (fiancée, Kendall), of LaFayette, Ali Wheless, of West Point; Hope Cannon (Kylar), of Valley, Ann-Marie King Wheless, of Troy. His surviving great-grandchildren include, Hunter Phillips, Klancy Phillips, and Clayton Phillips, of LaFayette, Fowler Ennis, of Lanett, Maddox Talley, of Roanoke, and Chaslyn Cannon, of Valley. Mr. King’s surviving extended family includes a number of cousins, nieces, nephews; countless family friends, employees, former employees, and close business associates; and his “adopted family,” Chris and Denise Clark and their children, C. D. and Caitlyn, of Lanett.
All of these people played an important role in his life and held a special place in his heart.
The family would also like to offer a special thanks to Anita Hewitt, Jodi Dennis, and Eddie Tines, all of whom played such an important role in helping to care for Mr. King over the past few years of declining health related to a stroke that he suffered over a decade ago. Special appreciation as well goes out to Dr. Eric Hemberg for his longtime care of and friendship to Mr. King and to the nurses of Compassus Hospice Care who helped to make Mr. King’s final days and hours more comfortable.
Visitation with members of the family was held in the showroom at King Ford in Valley, on Sunday, Sept. 13, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST (5pm to 7pm CST).
Graveside services were on the following day, Monday, Sept. 14, at 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. CST) at LaFayette Cemetery.
Flower tributes are welcomed, however, the family requests that those wishing to make donations in lieu of flowers make them to Valley Haven School (P.O. Box 416, Valley, Alabama 36854) in memory of Mr. Hennon L. King.
Though a man of humble and unexceptional beginnings, Mr. King’s path through life was exceptional in virtually every way. While his footsteps through the community in which he lived and within the lives of his family and friends will be sorely missed, they left a large and lasting imprint that will not be soon forgotten.