Community members share condolences, memories

In Memoriam: Don King

Community members were invited to submit condolences, memories and thoughts of Don King. Several appear below.

He was an inspiration to me and so many others. I was proud to have known him, and admired his pioneering activism. He was also just a joy to be around.
— David Lari

The Charlotte Business Guild is grateful for your vision and work to make organizations like ours possible. You will be truly missed and we thank you for blazing a path for all of us to walk! God speed to a wonderful man!
— Charlotte Business Guild

May he rest in peace. I’m sure he will, knowing that he made such a difference in the lives of so many. I remember being friends with Don back in the early 1980s — and how amazed I was at his courage and openness at a time when Charlotte was still a very “hostile” community towards LGBT people. He was an icon then, and his legacy is contained in so many organizations in the metro Charlotte area. A heartfelt thank you, Don, for all that you accomplished on our behalf and the positive impact you made for Charlotte’s LGBT community.
— Ken Davis

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Thank you Mr. King for blazing a path for those of us that followed. So many times, the younger LGBT generations forget the sacrifice and immense courage that those like Mr. King showed in the face of a harsh obstacles. His generation paved the way for our growing equality in today’s society. May we always remember and honor his courage.
— Phil Hargett

We are less because Don is gone, but we are collectively so much greater because he was here. Our love will travel with you wherever you go, my friend.
— Samis Rose

Rest in Peace Don King. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to meet him many years ago and to be recognized with the Don King Award. I hope my service to the community pays respect to all the sacrifices you made long before being gay was really ok.
— The Hon. LaWana Mayfield, Charlotte City Council

I had the pleasure of manning the store for Don in the front room of his apartment on East Blvd. and in distributing an early version of QNotes to the bars. His influence reached beyond the gay community while he was with Knight-Ridder where he was instrumental in starting the annual Observer Marathon. Don wasn’t raised here but he always loved this town. He will be missed.
— Jimmy Locke

I first met Don in 1973 when he asked me for a date. Since then we have been friends until the very end. He was always a joy to be a part of my life, and would often guide me through certain directions in life. I will miss him terribly. God bless his sweet soul.
— Bobby Schmiel

About 15 years ago the Presbyterian Church was having one of its periodic conniptions about gay issues. My Sunday school class was studying the issue and somehow Don King was invited to speak. He charmed the skeptical, fearful members of the group with his good humor, real-life examples and rational explanations and answers to their questions. He made it much easier for me to come out in that environment a couple years later. I remain grateful for his influence on Charlotte and his good example.
— Bill Strong

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Don was one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of knowing. He was a true leader, kind, compassionate, always willing to share, and always willing to lend a hand. Don was a pioneer, a dedicated member of the community and fierce advocate for LGBT rights and social justice for all. He will be missed. I know his legacy will live on.
— Jim Thompson

To the family and friends of Don King, I extend my deepest condolences. I arrived in Charlotte 15 years ago and Don’s name was one of the first I heard in terms of great pioneers of change. I was a recipient of the Charlotte Business Guild’s Don King Service Award and also had the honor of speaking at one of his diversity events at UNC-Charlotte. He opened doors for others that many would have just walked by without a thought given to who may have been left out. He seemed most comfortable working at the intersections and building big bridges with loving grace. I will miss him. The region has experienced a great loss. Rest well Don. The rest is for us to do.
— Bishop Tonyia Rawls

Don and I went to school together in Tarboro, N.C. We were friends throughout. He was always friendly and kind. Have seen him since at class reunions and he hadn’t changed. He led a benevolent and rewarding life from what I have heard. May he rest in peace. Some people you never forget.
— Patsy Jones

A brave man, an outstanding life.
— Hal Case

I always had a deep respect for Don and enjoyed a very good working relationship with him going back to them early disco days and helping do public service production work with him into the ‘80s. He was a good hearted and brave man.
— Jay Howard

My spouse Victoria Eves and I met Don King in 2003 when sitting next to him at our very first Charlotte Business Guild dinner. Years later, he and Victoria worked on a Business Guild program showcasing “The History of Gay Charlotte.” In 2012, when the Guild revived the annual gala it had previously ceased to hold, Don delivered a spectacular speech which commemorated the Guild’s 20 year existence. It was the last time I saw him. Takeaways: For those who worked with Don to build and sustain our wonderful LGBTQ community, thank you. There’s still much to be accomplished, so please jump back in. For anyone who hasn’t joined us, it’s time for you to help keep Don’s legacy alive.
— Teresa Davis

Don was one of the first folks I met when I moved here in the last ’70s. He was always humorous (when appropriate), warm, welcoming, kind, generous, embracing and so much more. His smile was infectious and his determination to champion causes that were near and dear to him were superlatives that helped to round him out. The one thing that made him so special was his ability to bring a sense of intimacy, sincerity and caring to those with with whom he surrounded himself. He made you feel like you were his dear friend when you spoke to him. He was such a joyful guy, always bringing a sense of calm, even in the midst of trying times. He also showed a sense of reverence when it came to issues that sparked the call to service. Ya’ gotta know that the work he started and shepherded here will serve as a legacy for the future of LGBT rights and the rewards he’s receiving now in the great beyond are showering him with peace. May Don’s memory forever be for a blessing.
— Lainey Millen

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