Alfred Ashbrook King
Alfred Ashbrook King Alfred Ashbrook King was born in Corpus Christi, Tex., July 19, 1916. His father, Richard King, was a rancher, a banker, and a civic leader; his mother, Pierpont King, was also a community leader and a dedicated arts patron; his great-grandfather was Captain Richard King, founder of the famous King Ranch. Alfred graduated from Corpus Christi High School and from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Upon graduation from Exeter he entered the University of Texas in Austin. At the University he was a member and president of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, a member of The Cowboys, of Beta Gamma Sigma, business school honor fraternity, and editor of the college yearbook, the 1940 Cactus; with western author J. Frank Dobie as advisor. In 1941 he received two degrees from the University: Doctor of Jurisprudence and Bachelor of Business Administration. Alfred met Ellen Umphres at the University, and he and Ellen were married in 1940. They lived in Austin while Alfred finished law school. After graduation, they moved to Corpus Christi, where he looked after business interests of R. King and Company. A fine horseman, he worked as a cowboy at the family's South Texas ranch-the Santa Fe. He began military service in 1943 and was soon chosen for the Counterintelligence Corps, a forerunner of the CIA. During his military career, he was attached to the infantry, the Quartermaster Corps, the Air Transport Command, and the Air Force. He served tours in the Caribbean and in India before leaving the Air Force after WWII. Planning to spend more time on the ranch, Alfred and family moved to McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, though the ranch was in Encino 60 miles away. He managed the ranch for the next 14 years until the Santa Fe Ranch was sold. While in the Valley, Alfred took an active part in the community. He was a director of the Corpus Christi National Bank (now Bank of America) and of the McAllen State Bank, a director of the McAllen Municipal Hospital, a trustee of Pan American College, today a part of the University of Texas System, vestryman of Trinity Episcopal Church, president of the McAllen Library and president of the Rio Grande Valley Boy Scout Council. The Boy Scouts of America honored him with the Silver Beaver award. During these years, the King family began spending time in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they have had a second home for many years. There Alfred took a part in the community and was active at the beginning of the Santa Fe Opera. No longer ranching, Alfred and family moved to Austin in 1960. Alfred had become a private investor, and there were many advantages to living in Austin, including the love of Austin itself. His business activities show a wide range of interests. He was chairman of the board or a director of several Muzak franchises, including El Paso, McAllen, Mexico City, Monterrey, Saltillo, Acapulco, and Guadalajara; Director of Inns de Mexico S.A.; Chairman of the board of Management Services Consultants; Chairman of the board of Santa Fe Associates, distributors of Seimans communications testing equipment; ITL Research Corp., military electronic counter-measures company, Director of a plastic container company; Chairman and co-founder of MRI Systems Corp., a computer data management system sold to INTEL in the 1970's; director of Steve Falkenberg and Company, Inc., public relations and marketing firm. In addition to advising or investing in numerous other businesses, Alfred also spent a great deal of time generously counseling non-profit organizations. In Austin, Alfred's outstanding talent for leadership and his vision played a large role in the community, especially in the arts and in the field of healthcare. He was founding Chairman of the Austin Lyric Opera, which he helped to organize and continued to serve the Board as Chairman Emeritus. The opera gave him the signal honor of dedicating the Austin premier performance of La Boheme to him during its 5th season. Alfred has been on the Board of Trustees of Laguna Gloria Art Museum, now the Austin Museum of Art, for over 40 years. It was his vision and determination that Austin should have a downtown art museum accessible to a wide audience. He was Founding Chairman and Chairman Emeritus for that museum. He served on the Comprehensive Austin Arts task force. He is a member of The Knights of the Symphony, which chose him as King Brio XII. He was a Founding member of Austin Meals on Wheels; he is a member of St. David's Healthcare System and past Chairman; a Trustee and President and a member of the Board of Governors of St. David's Partnership; President of St. David's Health Care Foundation and member of the Board of Trustees; a member of Indian Arts and Crafts Association board of directors, a former trustee of the Orme School in Mayer, Ariz., and President of the Orme Visiting Advisory Committee; he was a member of the Advisory Board for The School of Humanities at St. Edwards University. For the University of Texas in Austin, Alfred has been member and Chairman of the Advisory Council of The College of Fine Arts and a member Emeritus of the advisory Council of the School of Natural Sciences. He and his wife established lectureships in the College of Fine Arts and The School of Natural Sciences. He was a member of the Chancellor's Council, the President's Associates, and the Littlefield Society and a Life Member of the Ex-Students Association. Alfred received many awards in recognition of his dedication and leadership. Among them are Outstanding Philanthropist from the Austin chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives, The Clara Driscoll Award given by Laguna Gloria Art Museum, GACC Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce for leadership in the arts, the Jane Dunn Sibley award for Outstanding and Sustained Leadership in the arts of Central Texas, Community Maker Award for outstanding contribution to the visual arts community from Austin Visual Arts Association; Allan Shivers Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce; The E.W. Doty Award for Excellence given for outstanding leadership and extraordinary contributions to the College of Fine Arts from the University of Texas; Honorary Membership A.I.A. of Austin and the Texas Society of Architects recognizing longtime association and support of architecture; Austin's Most Worthy Citizen of 2000 for lifelong commitment to volunteerism from Austin Board of Realtors; Austin Arts Hall of Fame given by Austin Critics Table for outstanding patronage of the arts and culture in Austin, Texas. Most recently, the Austin Lyric Opera has dedicated its 20th season to Alfred and Ellen King. Alfred was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church. He belonged to The Headliners Club, Tarry House, Knights of the Symphony, English Speaking Union, the Tuesday Club, Knights of the Vine, and was a past president of the 100-year-old Town and Gown Club. Alfred King was known for his integrity, his marvelous sense of humor, his generosity and his dependability, as well as for his creative thinking his vision and his talent for leadership. He was a devoted husband and family man, a friend and a gentleman. Alfred is survived by his beloved wife of 65 years, Ellen, son Gilbert and his wife Marci of Austin; Son Gordon and his wife Alma of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and daughter Pierpont of Santa Fe. He is also survived by nephew Richard King, III of Corpus Christi, Tex.; great-nephew Richard King IV and great-niece Marie King of Austin, Tex.; great-nephew James King and his wife Tammy and their children Haley and Harrison of Fort Davis, Tex., as well as by very special friends James Audrey Freeman and Julia Houston Rector of Austin. A memorial service will be held April 8 at 1:00 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 3201 Windsor Road, Austin, TX. Memorial contributions may be made to the Austin Lyric Opera's Ellen and Alfred King Society Fund, the A
Published by Austin American-Statesman on Mar. 29, 2006.
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33 Entries
Alfred King is the only great man I have ever met. I suspect he will be it. The IT man, amazing. It was a privilege I will never know again. The last time I talked with him was at the 1998 Reunion, he was standing in the middle of the hall after dinner, after all the speeches and fun remembrances, kind of like the center pole that holds up the tent, still. I walked up to him and we shook hands. I said, "I am so glad I was part of this adventure." He looked at me and said, "I'm glad, too, Nancy, this is the American Dream."
Nancy DeLine
April 7, 2006
I was fortunate enough to join MRI Systems Corporation in 1969 as it was getting started with help from Alfred King. We built one of the very first data base management systems called SYSTEM 2000. I belive Alfred was proud of his efforts to help us introduce this brand new technology into the marketplace. We could not have done it without his support. Today, 35 years later, SYSTEM 2000 is still serving a small, but loyal customer base. I consider myself a beneficiary of Alfred's vision, integrity, patience, and humor.
Billy Clifford
April 6, 2006
I am deeply saddened by Alfred's death. I had the privilege of working closely with him on an arts plan for the City of Austin that revitalized the movement toward the AMOA and other arts facilities. Alfred was a gentleman, unassuming, friendly, and dedicated to the arts. Although I have not talked with him in the last few years, still, I will miss him greatly. He was a highlight in my life.
Maxine Barkan
April 6, 2006
I was very saddened to learn today of Mr. King's passing. He and Mrs. King were some of my parent's best freinds and I have terrific and fond memories of Mr. King during their McAllen days. It has been years since I have seen him or Mrs. King; perhaps not since my parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. I am lucky he and Mrs. King were a part of my life, and I share her loss.

With love and sympathy to the King family.

Austin Kern Miller
McAllen, Texas
Austin Miller
April 4, 2006
We have been fortunate to know Alfred in several of his roles:
• As a businessman while he was shepherding MRI from infancy to a company of 250 people;
• As a supporter of education while he served on the Advisory Board of the Computer Sciences Department;
• Again as an educator when he tried to take the concept of an Advisory Board to the Orme school;
• As a patron of the arts during our involvement with the Austin Lyric Opera;
• As an Anglophile and supporter of the English Speaking Union; and
• As a gracious host when he and Ellen invited a group from the ALO Chairman's Forum to their home in Santa Fe for dinner during one of the group's trips.

In the world of increased specialization, it has been a privilege and an honor to know the quintessential renaissance man, Alfred King.
Al and Nell Dale
April 2, 2006
Uncle Worthy was my dad's dad's brother and is today the greatest influence of my adult life. My life began when I asked for his help - and he gave it. He helped me start VideoCall with his sound advice and contact with Bob Brueck. He was my mentor - in business and in spiritual growth. The abundance of his love, humor and wisdom will always be the greatest gift to my life. One of the last things he told me a couple weeks ago was, "Ellen and I believed in you when no one else did. I've always been a gambler. And you know what? We were right." One of the greatest things he taught me was to never give up. And that when everyone else thinks you’re crazy – that’s when you have something!
Rich King
March 31, 2006
The passing of Alfred King came as a shock. Throughout the years he was the enduring and guiding light of our world at MRI. “Doing a startup” is not a task for the faint of heart. Alfred was the source of MRI’s heart. He risked a great deal on the strength of his confidence in us. His wisdom and humor live on in the many people that he touched. He was much more that just an ‘angel’, more that just a leader and more that just a teacher; he was a true friend to the company, the community and most importantly to each and every one of us who had the opportunity know him.

The last time I spoke with Alfred was in late summer of 2004. He and Ellen were about to leave on a trip but Alfred took the time to call me and chat. What I remember most of that conversation was that I hung up laughing.

The first word that comes to mind when thinking of Alfred is character. He possessed great character and was a great character. Another word comes to mind when thinking of Alfred, Ellen. The lovely lady who complemented Alfred so well. Ellen, please accept my heartfelt condolences to you and the entire family.

Thank you Alfred, for everything.
Robert Rosenthal
March 31, 2006
I'm another person whose career was launched at MRI Syetms. I'm grateful for the experience and to have been associated, at least in a small way, with Alfred King, the friendly, tall guy in the front office. We're all very fortunate that he passed our way.
John Roberts
March 30, 2006
Alfred KIng was my great great uncle. I didn't know him that well, But my dad knew him very well and he sure knew me. He went to my babtism, And I just recently was at his 95th birthday party in Santa Fe.
I loved him very much.
Haley King
March 29, 2006
MRI Systems Corporation was one of the first software startups in Austin, and Alfred was the angel investor and chairman. He was a visionary and entrepreneur. It was a privilege for me to be part of this experience, and an honor rub elbows with Mr. King.
Gene Lowenthal
March 29, 2006
Life; that state of semi-conciousness
which man briefly struggles through

The prelude to the future unknown and
therefore feared

Ah, what can man the mortal attempt
to say or do?

To assure the man immortal that his
path through time is cleared.

Alas, the mortal man cannot say “I
know,

that my soul will travel peacefully
down the path that I've begun.”

But others in the present who have
observed the mortal's show

Can judge from his performance and
applaud what he has done

Alfred was a friend and a mentor. I am sure that all who knew him will applaud his lifes' performance.
Kent Ochel
March 29, 2006
The Kings were my neighbors when I lived in Austin; their interest in Santa Fe and Southwestern art rubbed off on my parents' as they moved there. During Indian Markets in Santa Fe, I would see the Kings around the Plaza. What fond memories!
Deanne Dallo
March 29, 2006
I have known Alfred King and his wife Ellen for a short 7 years. He and Ellen are patients in the dental practice I am employed with. In the last year of his life, I was fortunate to listen and marvel at his adventures in the Army Air Force during WWII. The last time we spoke, we talked for almost an hour, to the chegrin of my boss. Alfred told me so much of his life during the war and I will never forget that connection. He was always not just a patient to me but a friend. Ellen, he will be truly missed by us all.
Denise Goldman
March 27, 2006
I always enjoyed visiting with Alfred and Ellen during my days at MRI and at the times after then when I ran into them at various occasions.

A real Texas gentleman. He enriched my life many times. I will miss him very much.
Ronald Parsons
March 27, 2006
Alfred was a great teacher of business, wit and integrity. I first met Alfred in the mid-1960's in my first legitimate job in high tech. He influenced myself and all those at MRI in so many ways, never losing his wonderful, dry sense of humor, even in the "thinnest" days of MRI. He will always be loved by everyone he touched over his many years amongst us.
Jim Tillinghast
March 27, 2006
I eagerly anticipated which sort of clever concepts Alfred would come up with at AMOA board meetings. He used to tell me " I know where all the skeletons are buried in this town". And, he did! He was a great leader for the arts and carried the banner high. I will miss him.
Damian Priour
March 27, 2006
In the mid-80s I was a young arts administrator with the fledgling Austin Lyric Opera. Mr. King was a great mentor -- one who understood from first-hand experience the ins and outs of non-profit management and the arts. Certainly a great deal of credit must be given to him for the success of the Opera in Austin.
Even today I frequently quote Mr. King--his wisdom and wit have had a lasting impact on me. How fortunate Austin is to have had his leadership and passion! I will miss him.
Sam Smith
March 27, 2006
I remember when I discovered that the tall, quiet man who had an office at MRI Systems Corporation was our "angel" and the financial glue that held our company together. What an impact he had on all our lives! We were a dynamic, extraordinarily talented and creative team that had our lives shaped by his faith in our ability to be risktakers and pioneers. I have always thought of him as an angel. He will be missed. My heartfelt condolences go to his family and the many friends who loved him.
Linda Lusk
March 27, 2006
I'm so glad I got to know this remarkable man and wish I had known him even better. So few people exude such charisma and such compassion upon first meeting, but everyone knew they were in the presence of a spiritual being when in the presence of Alfred King. We should not reserve the word "great" for military leaders, politicians, and celebrities. This was a great man.
David Shepherd
March 27, 2006
Alfred's early interest in technology and support of MRI created many friendships and led many of us on to successful careers as the industry developed. But his support of the arts and his simple demeanor were even more amazing. He led a long ang great life and I am grateful to have had the privilege to know him.
Pam Knight
March 27, 2006
It is interesting how so many divergent lives can be affected by a single person. Alfred was one of those individuals whose simple presence influenced others. He was, as stated earlier, "a class act". He was also a class act with a great sense of humor. He will be missed!
Ed Reeder
March 27, 2006
I first met Alfred when serving as a memebr of the Board of Trustees of the Austin Lyric Opera, but came to know and appreciate him much more when working with him as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Austin Museum of Art. I certainly thought of a him as a visionary, and someone who was not blinded by his culture. Most of all, I respected his consistency. He could always be counted on to have a sound perspective that was helpful in moving the discussion toward a productive end.

We will all miss his leadership, wisdom and commitment to service.
Rudolph Green
March 27, 2006
Alfred was a giant within the organizations he supported. Our lives are so much richer because we had the opportunity to work with him in support of the opera, the art museum, and Long Center.

He seemed to always have time to collaborate on anything that would benefit the organization, openly and naturally sharing his wisdom and his humor. His partnership with Ellen was a magnificent role model in active philanthropy.

His impact lives on ... not only in the organizations he supported, but in the lives he touched.
Dave and Martha Harrington
March 27, 2006
Jeff Meador
March 27, 2006
Sincere condolences to Mrs. King and the extended King family. Mr. King leaves a legacy of philantrophy as an example for all of us to follow. With Warm Regards.
Samuel Pate
March 27, 2006
Austin has lost a larger than life arts patron. We give thanks for his lifetime of work as well as the legacy he leaves, inclduing his adorable partner Ellen. My personal involvement with Alfred mainly focused on the Austin Lyric Opera and the Long Center, and I am the better person for this experience.
Stan Haas
March 27, 2006
After I came to work at MRI in the '70s, I wondered who that funny-looking skinny guy was that pulled into the parking lot in his Porsche almost running over Brueck and Lowenthal (and later Rosenthal) who were wandering around in the parking lot mumbling about formulas and tax strategies. I soon learned it was the Great Mentor for that young and brave business that Tillinghast urged me to join. In Alfred's passing, the memories flood back easily because those were such formative, dynamic years for all who knew this quick-witted, multi-faceted leader. Love to lucky Ellen and her family for being blessed firsthand with his skills and humor. The world needs more people like him: the Cornucopia man!
Norris Barnes
March 27, 2006
My long career in the software industry started at MRI in 1976. Although I was just a software development manager, Mr. King always treated me and everyone there with great respect. He was a wonderfully classy person in every way, taking huge risks to back our efforts to build a great company. We all owe him a debt of gratitude.
Bob Barker
March 27, 2006
I remember Alfred and Ellen King with fondness and am saddened by his passing. My life has been enriched for having been touched by them.
Ruthanne Whitely
March 27, 2006
Although I was only a fledgling programmer at MRI when I worked for Alfred in 1972-1975, he had a lasting effect. He may not have realized how much he encouraged people with his constant smile, openness, and willingness to take risks. Sincere condolences to his family.
Chuck Lewis
March 27, 2006
I see that Forrest Preece has already noted Alfred's leadership of MRI Systems Corporation. That contribution to technology company growth in Austin, and his unwavering support of the efforts of all who worked with him there, cannot be overstated. His wise counsel at all times, and his humor and steadiness in difficult times, were instrumental in the success of the company. In the hearts and minds of his associates at MRI, he was, and always will be, the personification of "class". Personally, he was my mentor and dear friend. I will miss him, but am grateful for the many memories of our times together.
Bob Brueck
March 27, 2006
Without a doubt, Alfred King was one of the greatest friends to arts and health organizations that Austin will ever have. For that, he is justly revered.

But many people don’t realize that he was the chairman of one of Austin’s first software companies, MRI Systems Corporation, which got its start almost four decades ago. Many of that firm’s former employees are spread throughout the world of computer technology locally and nationally.

No doubt, being a pioneer runs in his family. He was a visionary and a leader who will be sorely missed.
Forrest Preece
March 26, 2006
Alfred was a great man and will be missed by all with whom he came in contact.

I followed him as Chairman of the Austin Lyric Opera, relied on the principles which he had established and counseled with him frequently.

He was a great friend.
Phil & Sylvia Spertus
March 26, 2006
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