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William Fuller King Jr.
January 20, 1932 ~ November 5, 2023 (age 91) 91 Years Old
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William F. King, Jr., 91 died on November 5, 2023 at his home in Bath, Maine. William was born in 1932, in Boston, MA. The son of William F. and Mary P. King of West Newton, MA. He attended Phillips Andover Academy, and Harvard University. After a brief tour in the U.S. Army, he then went to work for the family business, Harrington King & Co in Boston in 1956.
He became heavily involved in the Bath “retail/community scene” in 1972 when he moved to Woolwich permanently and opened a subsidiary of Harrington King & Co., as RVI (Recreational Vehicles Inc.), catering to the ever-increasing popular sport of snowmobiling with his wife, Susan.
The City of Bath, Maine downtown was in a steep decline, having lost most of its retail businesses. Bill was convinced that it could be revived; he set out to do just that using his business, sales and organizational training. At the same time new merchants appeared, many of them women or referred to by Bill as “refugees from the big cities” including Jayne Palmer, a new downtown merchant. Together they organized the merchants, both socially and commercially, teaching the basic tenants of “community action”. Bill preached the message of the need to work together; the group met after work gathering in a Front Street retail shop, supported by “production fluid” (wine) and a healthy education about the threat of Walmart. After many hours, the group piled into a van to catch a lecture on how to survive Walmart’s coming, following Bill’s “orders” and enthusiasm! With his experience, the highly successful BBA (Bath Business Assoc.) was formed.
The BBA became the go-to organization to get things done. As an all-volunteer organization, it could not handle some 38 projects needed to be resolved in Bath, so the BBA hired the National Trust’s Main Street Program to come evaluate the work/town. They concluded that the BBA’s work, Bill’s vision and the results of his supportive but persuasive techniques led the association through more than just the start up.
Bill went on to Augusta to help the State of Maine become a “Certified Main Street” State. Working with Governor, Angus King, his friend and strong proponent of Main Street program, Bill worked successfully to make Maine a National Trust’s Main Street State. Until his serious illness, he continued to consult and serve on the Advisory Council of the Maine Downtown Center.
Bill, along with Jayne, continued to consult all over the east coast to organize each town around their assets downtown and the positive power of the Main Street philosophy.
Bill’s civic participation was vast, serving on numerous boards of directors and serving as president of many organizations, such as Coastal Economic Development, Mid Coast Hospital, Bath Rotary, and the Maine Downtown Center.
Bill’s hobbies included cars, mostly antiques. He had 13 at one time and restored two 1930’s motorboats. He researched his family’s genealogy, including writing a book. Williams proudest accomplishment may have been the Graveyard Restoration project where in 4 years he repaired and replanted over 40 gravestones for the St. Anne’s Church in Gardiner Maine.
William was predeceased by his wife of 52 years, Susan Decker King, brother Thomas P. King and sister Anne (Nancy) Palmer. He is survived by his wife Jayne Coffin Palmer, daughter Julia K. Briggs and husband Grant III, son William F. King III and wife Danielle, five grandchildren: Margaret C. Foglio and husband Adam, Allison B. Gamage and husband Joseph, Samantha W. Briggs, Abigail F. King, Caleb W. King and one great-granddaughter, Leona A. Foglio and nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life will be held at the Maine Maritime Museum, 243 Washington St., Bath, ME on Friday, November 24 at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to a charity of your choice or to Bill’s beloved Main Street Bath. Online donations are accepted at www.visitbath.com/donate or sent to 15 Commercial Street, Bath, Maine 04530