Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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William Albert King, of Willimantic, was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, July 22d, 1855, a son of Patrick and Mary (Whitaker) King. When he was yet a young boy his parents removed to Orcuttville, in the town of Stafford, Connecticut, where he spent his boyhood and attended the local schools and Monson Academy in Monson Massachusetts. He graduated (Phi Beta Kappa) from Amherst College in 1878, studied law in the office of Samuel E. Fairfield, in Stafford Springs, and was admitted to the bar September 18th, 1879, at Tolland, Connecticut. Mr. King began practice at Stafford Springs, where he remained until the fall of 1889, at which time he removed to Willimantic, continuing there to practice his profession until 1932, when advancing years had so weakened his body that he was unable to continue work and was virtually confined to his home.
He was elected a representative to the General Assembly from the town of Stafford for the session of 1882, and was afterward elected a representative from the town of Windham for the sessions of 1899, 1901 and 1919. In each of the four sessions in which he served, he was a member of the committee on the judiciary, and in the last two sessions was majority leader of the House of Representatives and house chairman of the committee on the judiciary. Mr. King was appointed county health officer for Windham County in 1894, being the first appointee in his county after the creation of the office by the General Assembly in the session of 1893. He held office under successive appointments until he resigned to become attorney-general. Subsequently, in 1915, he was reappointed county health officer and continued to serve until his retirement from active affairs. He was a member of the commission to revise the general statutes which prepared the Revision of 1902, and in 1902 was elected attorney-general of Connecticut for the term beginning the Wednesday after the first Monday in January, 1903. For many years he had been president of the Windham County Bar, an office, which he held until his death.
On August 26th, 1889, Mr. King married Jennie Stella Cady, of Stafford, who died June 26th, 1915, at the age of fifty. He left one son, John Hamilton King, who was admitted to the bar in 1925, and has since practiced law in Willimantic. He was a member of the Eastern Star Lodge A. F. & A. M. and Willimantic Lodge B. P. O. E.
On August 20th, 1937, death liberated him from the physical infirmities which had caused his retirement from active practice and thereafter progressively disabled him. In his passing the Connecticut bar parted with one of its most able, brilliant and outstanding members. Despite inducements to locate in a larger city affording greater opportunities for the exercise of his special forensic talents, he preferred remaining in general practice in a relatively small community. However, participation in the trial of important cases attracting much attention, his rare oratorical ability demonstrated in the courts, in the General Assembly, in political campaigns, and on other public occasions, his able service as attorney-general, and numerous other activities of his long and busy career extended his reputation and won him friends and admirers throughout the State and beyond its borders. His learning and general qualifications for successful practice were ample, his mental operations brilliantly quick and accurate, but he possessed, in addition, and in a degree vouchsafed few, gifts of magnetic eloquence and logical presentation which were most effective in court and on other occasions for persuasive argument. As a result he was much engaged in important jury trials, including defense of the accused in many homicide and other serious criminal cases. His reputation and success were such that he might well have specialized in this type of practice - most men similarly endowed and established would have done so, - yet his preference and policy was to continue in the varied activities of a general country practice. He not only served as counsel for his own city and for numerous towns, for many financial and business corporations, and for individuals of large interests but also, to the end of his active practice, often sacrificingly devoted valuable time to the affairs of clients in humble circumstances and participated in occasional trials in minor courts, for which he never lost his penchant.
In his professional and personal contracts he was most genial and companionable, - acquaintance with him speedily begot friendship, and association, in court and out, engendered confidence, respect and warm regard. He consistently afforded a laudable example to other members of the bar in his willingness to consider adjustment of controversies without resort to court trial and to do all that fairness permitted to achieve that end. To the many who shared intimacy with him his personality is a treasured memory. His qualities and career are fittingly summarized in the resolution adopted by the bar association of his county: "A learned and able lawyer, an eloquent advocate, an honest and conscientious citizen and official, our beloved friend, his was a long and eventful life and honor and integrity attended him throughout."