The North Country communities were shocked and saddened by the very sudden passing of Wayne King, who among many things was a teacher, coach, administrator, educator, entrepreneur, sports' enthusiast and a friend to so many of us.
I had the privilege of knowing and working with Wayne since he was a junior high school student back in the early 1980s. Not only was he in my physical education classes, of which he excelled, but both my brother and I got to coach him in football and me in track and field. On the football field, Wayne was a middle-linebacker, nose tackle and fullback, so that tells you already what type of person he was. I always felt bad that Wayne and his teammates during those junior high years never got to show their talents all the way through high school level as the program was dropped during their time there.
Track was a sport he excelled at and the hurdles was his specialty, which he competed in throughout his high school career. Leave it to Wayne to do the hurdles. Running the 100-meter dash and the 400 meters are demanding enough, but add 110 meters and 10 barriers to hurdle over, and complete that with the same 10 hurdles spread out over a 300-meter track and you had the perfect events for Wayne King. And he literally attacked them in practice and in competition.
One word that comes to mind to describe Wayne on the athletic field was tenacity, the quality of being very determined, and persistent in whatever he undertook. Other words that I think of to define Wayne would be constant, continuous, habitual, steady and dependable. Teammates looked up to him and many emulated his work ethic and attitude. I don't remember everything about those years but Wayne had to have been a team captain for me because he had those leadership qualities for sure.
As time went on so did Wayne but eventually after marrying one of our special Dummer girls, Julie Parker, and raising a couple of pretty "decent" athletic sons, our paths crossed again, except this time we were either coaching together or against each other, since between us we had five sons.
Baseball was the big thing although all the boys played other sports, too. Wayne also took charge of the Cal Ripken youth baseball program about the time I was stepping down. I still have a Cal Ripken Presidents' Award and a Champbro ceremonial first pitch baseball, presented to me by the league president, Wayne King, prior to the opening game of the league on May 5, 2001 (wow, almost 20 years ago!). He and the board ran that program for a number of years and had many successful campaigns.
One of the many things I loved about Wayne is that he had fun doing things but he also took whatever he was doing seriously and gave it al in all of the varied things he undertook. He learned the "ins and outs" of the game of baseball strategies, trends and tendencies and played the percentages. He also put a few miles on the car driving his boys and others to baseball games and clinics.
After a number of various career endeavors, Wayne found his passion in the field of education, and I'm guessing that some of that might have come from his time teaching and coaching baseball. Other than a couple of years ago when Wayne took over the Gorham boys’ varsity baseball team and we communicated regarding coverage of the games in the paper I have not had the more frequent conversations with Wayne like we used to. But our history and the respect we had for each other was always there and we were able to "pick up right where we left off" when we did see each other.
You want to know more about the type of man and person Wayne King was? The type that if something was to happen to him, he would want others to benefit from his life through organ donation and that is exactly what happened. An amazing man as is his family.
All of our hearts were hurting when we first heard of his medical situation and those same hearts were broken when we heard he had passed away. As devastating as this is, we will all get through this as, Julie so graciously and eloquently expressed in an email to probably hundreds of people during the few days all of this happened.
Both Melinda and I send our love, heartfelt sorrow and prayers out to Julie, Brock, Bryar and the rest of the family, friends, and colleagues. Wayne will be missed but a part of his story, his history, his life will remain with us always. RIP Wayne.