KING, GEORGE N. SR., was born in Louisville, KY, on May 21, 1932. He grew up on 18th Street in the Russell area of the city where he attended Madison Junior High School. As a young man, he was a waiter at The Pendennis Club. He also developed a passion for boxing during that time and honed his boxing skills under the tutelage of Fred Stoner at Grace Gym. Unfortunately, George's boxing career ended prematurely as a result of an eye injury. However, he continued to workout at Grace Gym and taught the "sweet science" to other aspiring boxers including Cassius Clay, aka, Muhammad Ali.
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George married Lanie Ann Howard at the age of 19 and from this union, three boys were born to this young couple: Larry (George Jr.), Barry, and Darryl. George became a member of the custodial staff at Wood Mosaic Lumber Company. Ever the entrepreneur, in 1964 he convinced the owners to help fund his business venture, Mr. Klean's Janitor and Maintenance Service. Because of George's vision and business acumen, Mr. Klean's grew from a home-based, family run business into the largest Black owned business in the state of Kentucky. At one point, the company employed more than one thousand workers. George was extremely proud of the fact that he also acquired contracts in Michigan, Massachusetts, and Alabama.
In 1976, George married Fannie Davis Owens. George and Fannie were married thirty-seven years. They enjoyed traveling the world and visiting their children who live out of state. Mr. Klean's continued to grow and gained wider recognition. In 1982, the Small Business Administration selected Mr. Klean's as Small Business of the Year for the Southeast Region. This honor included an invitation to the White House where George met President Ronald Reagan in The Rose Garden. In addition to the out-of-state contracts, Mr. Klean's had long standing contracts with the University of Louisville Dental School, Fort Knox, Lincoln Income and Life, Louisville International Airport, Ford Motor Company and the Naval Ordinance to name a few. George's dedicated service to the Downtown Louisville Rotary Club, Junior Achievement, 4-H, the Boy Scouts, The Lincoln Foundation and the DePaul School where he was a trustee are fine examples of his commitment to helping others, especially young people. George served on several boards including National City Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Churchill Downs, and the Ali Center. He was also a member of the University of Louisville's Board of Overseers. George was a founding member of the Louisville Chapter of 100 Black Men. Regarding his civic endeavors, George was very proud of the fact that he led the effort to raise the funds required to establish the Bill Collins Parkinson Center at Jewish Hospital in honor of his friend and business associate.
In addition to his entrepreneurial, civic and board pursuits, he found time for hobbies like collecting cars, especially Jaguars, and making his famous barbeque. George was a member of the Louisville Jaguar Club and he partnered with the late Bill Collins to establish the Louisville Automobile Museum, which was located in downtown Louisville. He was a member of the Beaver Casters Barbeque Team based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The team competed in barbeque competitions around the country, including the prestigious Memphis in May competition. George was a certified judge for the Kansas City Barbeque Society.
George's most recent business venture included the purchase and sale of the Spectrum Building, formerly Louisville Male High School. He also partnered with Junior Bridgeman and A.J. Bosse to form a construction management firm, KBB, which was a contributing general contractor to the construction of the Ali Center.
George N. King, Sr.'s life is one that has been an inspiration to family, especially his sons; friends; business associates and Louisville's youth. George is survived by his wife, Fannie; sons, George N. King, Jr. (Charliese), Bethlehem, PA; Barry G. King, (Leah), Fort Worth, TX; and Darryl L. King, (Dorothy), Phoenix, AZ; daughter, Melissa King Watson (Paul Lee), Louisville, KY; step-daughter, Joy Owens, Louisville, KY; sister, Peggy Cyrus (Modell), Louisville, KY; brother, Leon E. King (Joanne), Los Angeles, CA; grandchildren, Ian F. King, Fort Worth, TX; Paul Lee Watson, III; Lisa Watson, Louisville, KY; great grandchild Jalen Alexander as well as nieces and nephews. His mother, Geraldine V. King; father, Perry N. King, and brother, Joe L. King, predeceased him. George Nolan King, Sr. departed this life surrounded by his family on Monday, July 1, 2013 in the Palliative Care Unit of Baptist East Hospital, Louisville, KY.
Memorial services will be held at The Salvation Army (formerly Male High School), 911 South Brook Street, Louisville, KY on Friday, July 5, 2013. Family visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and a Memorial Service will be held at 12 Noon. A.D. Porter and Sons entrusted with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Lincoln Foundation and/or the DePaul School.
Online condolences: www.adporters.com
A.D. Porter & Sons Funeral Home Downtown
1300 West Chestnut Street Louisville, KY 40203
Published in The Courier-Journal on July 3, 2013