Jack Rae King

    Jack Rae King
    May 28. 1925 – September 11, 2023

    Long-time Lander educator Jack King passed away at his home on Monday evening, September 11, with his family at his side. He was 98 years old.

    Jack Rae King was born at home on May 28, 1925 to Grace Rae and Arthur “Bud” King in the small town of Gebo, north of Thermopolis. At the time of his birth, his father was employed as an electrician at the Owl Creek Coal Company. Jack cherished his childhood memories of growing up in a three-generation family in the unique culture of a working coal town. The family lived in a series of “company” houses there, all with coal heat and outdoor facilities. Jack’s paternal grandfather, David “Cap” King lived with the family. Jack referred to his granddad as his best friend.

    Jack attended school in Gebo until the family moved to Thermopolis with the closing of the Owl Creek Coal Company. He entered Hot Springs County High School as a freshman in the fall of 1939. He was a good student, active in student affairs, music and athletics. He excelled especially on the basketball court. At HSCHS, he met his life’s companion, classmate Mary Jane McKethen. They became high school sweethearts and, as WWII loomed over their futures, they married just after their high school graduation.

    In late summer, 1943, Jack enlisted in the U..S. Army Air Corp Aviation Cadet Program. During the War years, he was stationed in Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona. He was honorably discharged in 1946. During his service, Mary Jane gave birth to their first child, Jacque.

    After the war, the family moved to Powell, WY where Jack and Mary Jane attended the newly established Northwest Community College. They were among the first students to earn Associate Degrees from the school. In 1947, the family moved to Greeley, CO where Jack earned a BA at Colorado State College of Education (now Northern Colorado University.) and where their son Charles “Chip” was born. Immediately after graduation, in 1950, Jack started his first job as a teacher and coach in Thermopolis.

    He was hired in 1952 as head basketball coach at Fremont County Vocational High School in Lander. He taught History and General Science, as well as PE. Two more children joined the family in Lander, son David and daughter Tierney.

    In the early fifties, the family spent summers in Laramie while Jack worked on an MA in Administration at the University of Wyoming. From 1954 – 1959, he was City of Lander Recreation Director in the summer months. He found instructors for various sports for both boys and girls, and organized a baseball league for kids of all ages. He coached most of the teams in the beginning.

    Jack’s tenure coaching Tiger basketball included both Big Horn Basin Conference and State Class A championships. The conference at that time stretched from Lander on the south to Cody on the northern end. Games were played on Thursday and Friday nights, necessitating overnight stays for three of the venues: Cody/Powell, Thermopolis/Worland, Graybull/Basin and Lovell. There was no television coverage, but faithful Lander fans tuned in to KOVE’s play-by-plays.

    In 1959, Jack left coaching and became F.C.V.H.S. Principal, remaining in that position until 1974, when he was promoted to the position of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum/Instruction of School District # 1. In 1979 he became Acting Superintendent, and in 1980, he was hired as Superintendent of Schools, a position from which he retired in 1986, after thirty-seven years in Education.

    Jack was active in the Lander community. He was a past member of Lander Lions Club; past member and president of Lander Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow); and past member of Fremont County Recreation Board, He was a 50 year Master Mason (Lodge #2, Lander) and a fifty year member of Don Stough Post #33 of the American Legion. He was a past member of the Westward Heights Care Center Board of Directors and a member and past President of the Mountain Vista Retirement Residence Board of Directors. He helped found the Lander Valley Education Foundation and was a past member of their Board of Directors.

    Jack was an active member of the North Central Association: Commission on Schools throughout his administrative career. He spent twelve years on the Wyoming North Central State Committee, he was on the Commission Liaison Committee for Secondary Schools, and the Commission Long Range Planning Committee. He was an Officer for the Accreditation Review NCA annual Meeting in Chicago, and Chairman of the Wyoming NCA Visitation Teams from 19780- 1989. He was an Executive Board Member of the NCA Commission on Schools from 1984-87 and earned the Meritorious Service Award of the Wyoming NCA Committee in 1983. He was presented the John W. Vaughn EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION AWARD in Chicago in 1987. – Following his retirement, Jack traveled as a member of several NCA Evaluation/Accreditation Teams to Department of Defense Dependent Schools around the world from 1986-92. This involved extended on-site visitations to South Korea, Okinawa, Japan (twice), West Germany, England, Scotland, Norway, the Netherlands, and Kawajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands.

    Among his many awards, he most valued the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Northwest College (1983); AASA ; National Academy of School Executives; Academy of Fellows – Distinguished Educator Award, Charles F Kettering Foundation, three year fellow; Guest Instructor and Supervisor of Student Teachers, University of Wyoming; Local and State Honorary Farmer, Future Farmers of America (F.F.A.); Hall of Fame Distinguished Service Award – Wyoming Coaches Association; Wyoming High School All Star Basketball coach; Title III “Automation for Isolation Schools – Flexible/Modular Scheduling”, Author/Co-ordinator; Lifetime Contribution Award (2005) from the Lander Chamber of Commerce; and Lander Rotary Club Service Award, (1958) which states “…During his six years of coaching in Lander, his success in interscholastic competition has been outstanding. But, more important, he has taught hundreds of our youth the principles of team play, sportsmanship and good citizenship. The splendid character of his own life is an influence for good in the life of every boy who has been privileged to know him.”

    Jack King was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Mary Jane King – with whom he shared his life for nearly 80 years; his son Charles A. “Chip” King; and his sisters, Peggy King Harrington, and Betsy King. He is survived by his daughter Jacque (Ron) Shaw; son David (Carol) King; and daughter Tierney (Jim) Franz, all of Lander. Throughout his adult life, Jack never stopped learning and never stopped teaching. He was an unforgettable, loving force in the lives of the seven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren who survive him.

    Graveside services for Jack are planned for later in the Fall. Those wishing to donate in his memory may contribute to Table Mountain Living Community Fund, 240 Lincoln Street,
    Lander, WY 82520. (

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