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Rolland L. King

1921 - 2019
Rolland L. King Obituary
King, Rolland L.
Oct 3, 1921 - Nov 3, 2019
Rolland L. King, 98, passed away Sunday, November 3. He leaves behind a loving family and a legacy of shaping communities as a pioneer residential developer and entrepreneur. Born in Battle Creek, Michigan on October 3, 1921, Rolland grew up in Detroit where he began a prestigious lifetime of accomplishment. His industrious abilities were shaped at a young age. When he was only 14 his older brother Carl helped him get a $20 per week summer job working for inventor Harry Dietert who manufactured instruments. Rolland became interested in letter press printing and borrowed $200 from his father to purchase an antique Chandler & Price printing press which was installed in the family's basement. Within a year he had repaid his Dad using money he made printing brochures and flyers for school and community events.
After high school Rolland went to work full time as a machinist for Harry W. Dietert Company who made equipment important to the World War II effort. Rolland married his high school sweetheart, Winifred and soon enlisted in the Army to serve his country. After basic training at March Field, California, he was eventually deployed to Guam where he assisted in building air strips and ran five mobile machine shops. He was called home from the service when his mother became ill and eventually passed away.
In 1950 Rolland decided to move his family to Sarasota, Florida, for the warmer weather and to seek out more lucrative career opportunities. When he discovered it would be $1000 to move, he purchased an old school bus for $400 and off he went south with his wife and three small children.
This was the beginning of a long career shaping Sarasota's residential community landscape. His first project was Rolwin Motel on Stickney Point Road near the Siesta Key bridge which he sold for a nice profit. He then developed a successful 20-acre subdivision nearby called Emerald Harbor and went on to purchase property on Siesta Key's Crescent Beach owned by the Palmer family. Here he developed Sarasota by the Sea, a mixed beachfront motel and condominium development. Rolland then began to think bigger regarding Sarasota's growing potential for residential development.
In the early 1950's Rolland formed a partnership with Frank Smith and obtained options on buying 100-acre parcels in the Snow Crop Orange Grove south of downtown Sarasota. King and Smith then developed South Gate and the South Gate Shopping Center in a partnership called King and Smith which opened the way for the Sarasota's move south for residential development. A bronze sculpture of Rolland was installed on South Gate Circle to honor Rolland in the 1990s. The winding divided boulevard and intricately laid out street design became hallmarks for future developments that followed. King and Smith then developed Old Forest Lakes and the Forest Lakes Country Club area and golf course. Next came Gulf Gate, Gulf Gate Shopping center and commercial area.
Around 1955 he purchased lake front property and an estate in Lake Lure, North Carolina. The family enjoyed this summer home for many years. In the 1980s along the shores of Lake Lure, Rolland developed The Mountains and golf course, which today is called Rumbling Bald Club.
Over the years Rolland built many communities in southwest Florida, North Carolina and the Caribbean. Other Sarasota/Manatee communities include Center Gate, Village Green and Garden Lakes. In Ft. Myers he developed Whiskey Creek and Island Park Village and Governor's Harbour in Grand Cayman, BWI. Today over 10,000 homes were built by his companies.
Rolland was an avid pilot, sailor, snow skier and model railroad enthusiast. He loved flying his Beechcraft Bonanza to North Carolina and cruised to the Bahamas often in his Endeavor sailboat. He also served as President of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce when the "Blue Pagoda" was built for the Chamber where the Garden Center now exists.
Rolland is preceded in death by his first wife Winifred and second wife Patti, his brother Carl and his oldest daughter Cheryl. He has six surviving children, Jerri (Betsy), Chris (Leslie), John (Didi), Mike (Robin), Linda and Steve King. He is also survived by his third wife Vicki and current wife Francine along with fourteen Grandchildren; Jennifer Rock, David Sandana, Brittany, Aaron, Travis, Daniel Sandana, Angela, Lisa, Casey, Chanel, Karla, Daniel, Zachary, Taylor, and eleven Great Grandchildren.
All members of the family miss him and love him and wish for him all the peace he deserves.
Plans for a Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date and you may pay respects to: www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries
Published in Herald Tribune from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, 2019
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