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Remembering a King

LAFAYETTE — Hennon King passed away at his home near LaFayette Friday afternoon, leaving quite a legacy in automotive sales, community support and backing local schools. King came to Chambers County in 1969 and left a giant footprint as a businessman, family man, steward of the land and someone who did not make enemies.

Mac Langley, owner of Langley Motor Company in Lanett, said that he and King were competitors but that they’d never exchanged any crosswords and had a healthy respect for each other.

“Hennon was a good man,” he said. “I’ve always had nothing but good things to say about him. He was my friend, and I’m glad he did well for himself. I got my first franchise in 1966, and he got his in 1969. What’s sad today is that there are not any young guys coming along today like we were back then.”

King opened a Ford dealership in LaFayette in 1969, at first in the old downtown theater and later on on the east side of town on Highway 50. In the mid-1980s, he relocated to Fob James Drive in Valley just off Exit 77 on I-85. It was a fantastic location to do business. King Ford added such brands as Lincoln. Mercury, Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Chevrolet and Kawasaki. Exit 77 on I-85 is well known between Atlanta and Montgomery as the location for King Auto Corner.

Langley, who started with Buick and Oldsmobile and later added Pontiac and GMC trucks, said that he and King both understood the key to success.

“It’s a matter of treating everybody right,” he said. “If you do that, people will be good to you. Hennon was a master of fair dealing and treating people with respect. He treated his customers the right way.”

Having family support is a big factor, too. King had very strong support from his family in building his business, especially from wife, Barbara, and son, J.R.

In 2008, the City of Valley hosted a Hennon King Day. The newly expanded bridge at Exit 77 was officially renamed the Hennon King Bridge in honor of what King meant for the city and the local area.

“We will miss him,” Mayor Leonard Riley said. “He was always supportive of the city and Chambers County.”

For years, King Auto Corner has sponsored youth sports teams and more often than not is the low bidder on police cars purchased by local law enforcement agencies.

King loved to plant trees and encouraged others to do so. He was a strong supporter of education and was a major booster of Chambers Academy and Point University.