WILMINGTON — Benjamin “Bennie” R. King Sr., 97, died peacefully Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Roswell, Georgia, after a short stint in the hospital. He was born Oct. 18, 1922, in Wilmington to Haywood (Woody) S. King and Mary Ella Smith King. He was the youngest of four children, all of whom preceded him in death.
Bennie graduated from New Hanover High School in 1940, where he met the love of his life, Mary Ann Bordeaux. They were married in the summer of 1941, settling in Wilmington to make their lifelong home. In 1944, he joined the U.S. Navy and served on the destroyer USS Nelson until the end of World War II. Upon returning to Wilmington after the war, Bennie went to work in the accounting office of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Upon completing Miller-Motte Business College in 1950, he went into automotive parts outside sales with Premier Autoware Company, where he became their decades-long, number-one salesperson until his retirement in 1990.
Bennie was a lifelong member of the United Advent Christian Church, where his parents were charter members. The church was the center of much his life with Mary Ann, starting in his younger years as a choir member, deacon and Sunday school superintendent through his later years, as head of many men’s groups and bible studies, an elder and later, elder emeritus.
Bennie King was also a character who loved people and good times. He never met a stranger, and if he did and wasn’t sure if he should know him, he just called him “Buddy.” Most of his close, contemporary, decades-long friends from back in the day have preceded him in death, except for one, but he had some great memories. He loved to dance and would display his jitterbug skills to anyone back when he was able.
He also was very mechanically inclined, rebuilding an inboard boat engine with a friend in his garage for his 26-foot boat and building a stereo system for his house from a kit. He loved to go fishing, and he and his boys spent many early Saturday mornings heading out the inlet right after dawn to hunt for and catch Spanish and king mackerel and blue fish. If they went on Sunday, his mother (who had a direct connection upstairs) would pray that they wouldn’t catch any fish, and it worked. It was the same with his other love of golf, and never on Sunday.
Bennie was preceded in death by his wife of 72 years, Mary Ann Bordeaux King; and eldest son, Robert S. “Bob” King, only by four weeks.
He is survived by his son, Benjamin (Bennie) R. King Jr., and his wife, Beth, of Roswell, Georgia, and Bob’s wife, Martha Small King, of Wilmington; and five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Due to our national health circumstances, a memorial service will be held later in Wilmington at the United Advent Christian Church when we can travel and gather safely once again. Bennie’s remains will be interred in Oleander Memorial Gardens, Wilmington, next to his beloved wife in a private ceremony of Wilmington family.
In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting donations to the United Advent Christian Church, Wilmington; or Advent Christian Village at Dowling Park, Florida.
Share online condolences with the family at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory.