Robert J. King

WALLINGFORD - Robert J. King, 97, of Wallingford beloved husband of the late Carol (Thomson) King departed this life on Thursday, April 17, 2014, at the Masonic Healthcare Center.

Robert was born on Jan. 17, 1917, in Madison, Wis., son of the late Franklin and Catherine (Nanscawen) King. He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force serving during World War II as a Photographer. Robert King graduated from the University of Wisconsin, where he was a student of John Van Koert. For two years he worked in Van Koert's commercial design studio, making silver jewelry and small novelties using the lost wax method. After the war he entered the School for American Craftsmen in Alfred, N.Y., studying enameling and metalwork. Among the faculty there were Mitzi Otten, Lauritz Christian Eichner and John Prip. He received his master of arts and began working for Towle Silversmiths in Newburyport, Mass. A consummate craftsman, King himself made the models for Contour flatware and after the holloware. Independent of Towle, he worked in silver and enamel and, during the 1950s, received competition awards for pieces included in such exhibitions as "Designer-Craftsmen U.S.A. 1953," the "Wichita Decorative Arts Annual" in 1954, and "Fiber, Clay, Metal" in 1957 and 1958. His handmade work was exhibited in the American Pavilion at the Brussels World's Fair in 1958. After 13 years with the company, King left Towle in 1962, to become a staff designer at International Silver Company in Meriden. For International's Moon Room exhibit at the 1964, New York World's Fair, King designed the unique Celestial Centerpiece, candelabra, and candlesticks, and his earlier carafe was also displayed. King's work appeared in the prestigious traveling exhibitions "Objects USA," in 1970, and "Forms in Metal: 275 years of Metalsmithing in America," in 1975. He was in the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition "Design Since 1945." His work is represented in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, Yale University Art Gallery, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rochester Art Museum and the Minneapolis Museum of American Art. Robert also took up pottery and watercolor in the '70s. He was a lifetime member of Wesleyan Potters and is represented in many private collections. He still actively created art in his later years. He has three grown children and four grandchildren and has passed on his love of art and design to them. His work was exhibited in "Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design," at the Renwick in Washington, D.C. The show and its accompanying book is the work of Jewel Stern, an independent scholar and collector of American silver.

Robert is survived by his children, Stephen King and his wife, Joan, of Hamden, Christine Jenkins and her husband, Wallace of Vt., and Perry King and his wife, Susan Gilbert, of New York. He also leaves four grandchildren, Peter Jenkins, of Vermont, Janna King, of New York, David King, of New York, and Sarah King, of New York; along with a sister-in-law, Avis Schmul, of California; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his wife, Caroline Thomson King; his brothers, Franklin and Paul King; and his sisters, Florence Adamson and Esther Price.

A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Interment will be next to his wife in Dillsburg, Pa. Memorial contributions may be directed to: Wesleyan Potters, 305 S. Main St., Middletown, CT 06457. The B. C. Bailey Funeral Home of Wallingford has been entrusted with arrangements. To leave a message of remembrance please visit

Funeral Home

B.C. Bailey Funeral Home
273 South Elm Street Wallingford, CT 06492
(203) 269-4630

Published in The Record-Journal on Apr. 19, 2014