COLEBROOK — Fred King is being remembered for his long and passionate service to both Coos County and the state.
His death Saturday at the age of 91 left the region mourning the loss of someone who worked so hard for the betterment of the state’s northernmost county.
During more than 50 years of service, King was a Coos County official, state senator, state representative, Colebrook selectman and Colebrook school board member. He also served on countless boards and committees.
“He was a giant, not just in Coos County but in the state as well,” said Coos County Commission Chair Tom Brady. “Fred’s life has been spent making a difference in people’s lives,” he said.
“There will only be one Fred King,” agreed Coos County Commissioner and Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier. “Regardless of party, he worked for everyone in Coos County. He long recognized that Coos needed to be united to be noticed and did an unbelievable job in representing us.”
“Fred King was a remarkable man and public servant in addition to being a fine husband and father. King, who served as both a state senator and state representative, learned everything he could about all many issues that Coös County faced — and continues to face — weighed the pros and cons and only then determined what course of action he favored and could support,” said Rep. Edith Tucker of Randolph, who also covered King extensively as a newspaper reporter.
Both Brady and Grenier described King as a mentor to them in their roles as county commissioners and even after King had retired as county administrator, the two said they would reach out to him for advice.
Brady said when he was first elected as chair, King sought him out to advise him on how to run meetings.
“He really meant a lot to me,” he said.
Grenier said King schooled him on the importance of the county’s unincorporated places and the importance of keeping that structure intact for the county’s future. On the city side, Grenier said King, working with Berlin businessman Eli Isaacson, lead the charge to get a New Hampshire state prison for men in Berlin.
“That facility saved the Berlin Water Works and the Berlin Sewer User Fund when the pulp mill was permanently shut down in 2006,” he said.
King was a Colebrook businessman when one of the county commissioners back in the 1970s asked what he thought about putting an addition on the West Stewartstown nursing hospital.
King looked at the idea and realized there was no way to put an addition on the nursing home. Noting that most of the names on the waiting list were from the Berlin area, he suggested the county look at building a nursing home in Berlin.
King’s suggestion was adopted and he was asked to serve as clerk of the works for the Coos County Nursing Home in Berlin, which opened in 1976. From there he became county coordinator, and then from 1984 to 1994 he oversaw the entire county operation as county administrator, superintendent of corrections and administrator of the unincorporated places.
After retiring as county administrator in 1994, King continued to serve as administrator of the unincorporated places until 1998.
He then ran for and served two terms as state senator, sponsoring legislation to improve the long-term care system for the state’s elderly. That was followed by a sting as a state representative, from 2002-2008, where he was on the House Finance Committee and the Joint Legislative Committee. From 2008, he successfully ran and was elected county treasurer position and held the position until recently.
While King was a Republican, both Grenier and Brady said he was more interested in results.
“He was always honorable. He tried to move things ahead,” said Brady.
On a local level, King served 12 years as a Colebrook selectman and eight years on the Colebrook School Board.
He is a member and past chair of the Coos County planning board, a member of the Nash Stream Forest Citizen Advisory Committee, and served on a special commission to study North Country electric transmission capacity.
Other past and present positions include a member of North County Council, the N.H. Center for Public Policy Studies Board, N.H.-Canadian Trade Council, N.H. Form on Higher Education, Connecticut Lakes Headwater Committee, N.H. Water Resources Board, President of the Great North Woods Region Association, N.H. Current Use Board, the Coos County Conservation District Board, and the Northern Forest Lands Council subcommittee.
Funeral plans were not available at press time.