Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

King, 'old fashioned Alaskan,' dies at 102


October 11, 2018

Hartley King

Hartley King spent 10 years in Haines from 1972 to 1982. Throughout his long life, they remained among his fondest memories, his granddaughter Erin King said. King was three weeks shy of 102 when he died on Sept. 17 at his home in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Son Ernest King of Gustavus said his parents Hartley and Myrtle came to Haines to be closer to their grandchildren. "Mom and dad loved living around them and watching them grow," he said.

The senior King was remembered by friends and family as a pleasant mannered man, who was generous, friendly, busy, and hardworking. Dave Olerud said he had "old fashioned Alaskan" values, and was a self sufficient outdoorsman in every sense of the word from creating a bountiful garden from the ground up on a rocky plot by composting soil to hunting and fishing for much of his food. He cut trees, was a woodworker and repurposed building materials, all with great zeal.

King hadn't been in Haines long when he was given an abandoned Fort Seward structure on the condition he remove it from the owner's property. "My dad used a nail puller, crowbar, and hammer and took them (the walls and more) all apart," Ernie King said. He moved it to his lot on Piedad Road and then built his house and helped his son build another one with the salvaged material. "The enormity of taking all this lumber apart and saving it would have defeated most people," his son said.

Dave Olerud said King became fast friends with his elderly father-in-law and they took on projects and outdoor adventures together. "At that time, I thought of Hartley as 'mature,'" Olerud said, and was impressed that King helped him tear down the old Presbyterian manse. King's granddaughter recalled the 27 doors he salvaged and how as a child she was "intrigued by the crystal doorknobs."

King was the son of Mabel King Leder and Ernest D. King; he was born at home in Port Hill, Idaho on Oct. 6, 1916. He and his five brothers and sisters and grew up in Port Hill and nearby Bonners Ferry. As a young man he worked as a logger and timber faller using handsaws. During WWII he served in the Army in Company C of the 349th Engineers, rising from private to sergeant and teaching demolition.

He worked as a miner at the Continental Mine in northern Idaho; for 16 years was superintendent at the North Side Lumber Co. in Philomath OR, and at an Oregon tree farm before coming to Haines. A self-described "rock hound," King won ribbons at the Oregon State Fair for his polished rock displays. After he and Myrtle settled back in Bonners Ferry, King continued gardening and woodworking. He always laughed a lot and enjoyed telling stories to friends, neighbors, and anyone who stopped by to admire his yard full of flowers, berries, and fruit trees.

Myrtle King died in June of 2004. They were married 64 years. King leaves wife Janice King, as well as two sisters, a son, two daughters, 10 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.

"Hartley lead a good life, a very good life. Truthfully, he affected people in a positive manner, in thought, word and deed. It was his nature to be a good person," Olerud said.

Cards may be sent to his son Ernie King at P.O. Box 334, Gustavus, AK 99826.


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