Meal for a king
by Sherrie Norris
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, sweet peas, biscuits and orange-slice cake was “a meal for a king,” said Todd Carter, director of development at the nonprofit organization known for helping individuals restore troubled lives.
“One way of expressing our gratitude to the late Terry King for what he meant to us at Hospitality House, was to offer his favorite meal to his family members and the friends he left behind when he died last week,” Carter said.
Terry Charles King, whose last address was 338 Brook Hollow Lane - the same as that of Hospitality House - died on August 14 at Life Care Center in Banner Elk following a brief, but intense, battle with cancer.
King was a native of Avery County who had worked as a lineman prior to hitting a low point in life. As many who face dire circumstances do, King sought and found solace through the Boone residential facility. At the time of his cancer diagnosis six months ago, said Lynne Mason, director, “Terry was on his way to rebuilding his life.”
Born Oct. 22, 1959, to the late Charlie and Olivia Brewer King, Terry King was a father, grandfather brother, uncle, and friend who is remembered by many as a quiet and compassionate man - one with great wisdom and knowledge who was a helper and encourager to others.
“In the last year, Terry became an amazing part of our family here,” Carter said. “At 52, with his share of regrets, he was ready to tackle the next phase of his life, make amends, and move on.”
Zack Ollis, a graduate student in public administration at Appalachian State University and shelter coordinator at Hospitality House, is credited for helping King’s family make his last days as comfortable as possible.
“Zack took a real interest in Terry and went beyond his call of duty to help him put the final pieces of his life together,” Carter said. “He arranged for Terry to have hospice services as long as he was able to be here, and he spent as much time as he could with Terry and his family during his final days at Life Care Center.”
Ollis also helped coordinate King’s reconciliation with estranged family members prior to his death, as well as a memorial service on Friday and the Wednesday meal, both held at the Hospitality House.
“Terry King was a good man,” Ollis said. “There was something different about him. He was out-of-the-box and helped break the stigma associated with homelessness.”
It wasn’t easy for some to know whether Terry lived at the facility or worked there, staff members said. “He had a way of making people feel at ease and comfortable in difficult situations,” Ollis said.
“He never met a stranger and knew something about just about everything. He always took new residents under his wing, especially the young ones, and was more like a father figure to a lot of us. He should’ve been on Mayberry.”
Carter said that King was in the transitional program, but was more like a permanent fixture. “The kids really loved him, but no one had anything against him.”
According to Ollis, one of King’s last wishes was to be reunited with his own family - and in particular, his children.
“We brought them together for a picnic a while back, which they all seemed to enjoy,” Ollis said. “We tried to help him put the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Ollis and Carter said it was their hope that King be remembered for all of the good that he did. “And there was a lot of it,” Ollis said.
“It was hard to see him deteriorate so quickly,” Carter said. “His life and death really put into focus what we do at Hospitality House. I am both humbled and proud to say that we were able to reconnect Terry with is family and children to provide some laughs, smiles, hugs and good memories - as well as some bit of closure, when he passed.”
Carter said the funeral service on Friday, with family and friends in attendance, was an emotional and loving tribute.
“We also provided three memory books for each of Terry’s kids, “Carter said. “We’ve asked his friends to share personal stories and memories, so his kids will have a better idea of the Terry we knew.”
Lynne Mason, director of Hospitality House said, “Terry’s story was one of hope. He was doing so well and rebuilding his life when he was diagnosed with cancer in the early spring.”
Mason said that when people come through the doors of the facility, they are usually at the lowest point of their lives.
“But, eventually, we often get to see the good, like we experienced with Terry, she said. He bore his illness well. Just by being around him, one never knew the troubles that he dealt with inside.”
King’s death was the second to have occurred within the Hospitality House family within a month, Mason said. “We truly care about our residents and count it a privilege to be a part of their lives and a part of their healing. Something like this gives us pause to reflect upon life’s journey. Our residents teach us a lot.”
On behalf of his family, King’s son, Heath Hall, said he was appreciative of Hospitality House for the compassion shown to all of them by staff and residents.
“We offered to have him come home,” said his older brother Wade King, during Wednesday’s gathering, “but he said he would rather be here with his friends. He had formed special relationships with the people here. They were like family to him.”
Wade’s wife, Ann King, said that it had been important to King that he be able to maintain his independence as long as he could. “It’s been hard on this family who lost their mother to cancer, and now, for their brother to go through it, too, it’s really hard,” she said. “We all have had to deal with it in our own way.”
King is survived by two daughters: Heather Parker of Charlotte and Erin Clemmons of Florida, one son; Heath Hall of Newland, one sister, Wanda King of Newland, and three brothers; Jerry King of Roan Mountain, Tenn., Wayne King of Paris, Ohio, and Wade King of Newland, three grandchildren and a number of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. Words of comfort or donations to help with expenses related to King’s death may be shared with the family through his son, Heath Hall at 295 Squirrel Creek Rd. Newland, NC 28657, or to his sister, Wanda King, PO Box 592 Newland, NC 28657.
The mission of the Hospitality House is “Helping Folks Get Back on Their Feet” through shelter, food and supportive services.
The nonprofit organization is located in Boone and serves the counties of Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, Yancey, through helping individuals and families in crisis, poverty and homeless situations.
Since 1985, Hospitality House has been a place to get a hand up, not a handout, said Todd Carter, Director of Development.
Residents receive supportive services to address employment, education, housing and medical needs. Other services are coordinated with area agencies to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of the clients. Each resident is required to be substance-free and to take an active role in the house, help with chores and participate in daily meetings.
The services provided encourage residents to transition from crisis to stability, poverty to sustainability and homelessness to self-sufficiency. The need is great, as an estimated 1,200 homeless people can be found on any given night in this seven-county region.
The organization provides, operates, administers and directs the following programs:
Emergency Shelter Services
Long-Term Transitional Housing
Permanent Supportive Housing
Rock Haven Independent Living Facility
Bread of Life Community Kitchen
Second Harvest Food Box Program
WeCAN - a crisis intervention and homeless prevention program.
HUD’s Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program
BREMCO’s Operation Round-Up
NRLP’s Good Neighbor Round Up Program
The “face of homelessness” includes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation and gender. According to a 2010 CareerBuilder.com survey, 77 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, meaning that injury, death, job loss and other unforeseen circumstances can render any family, child, woman or man homeless. Particularly vulnerable are U.S. veterans, the elderly, the under-employed, people with disabilities, chronic disease, mental illness and addiction disorders.
For more information about Hospitality House, call (828) 264-1237, visit the main office at 338 Brook Hollow Road in Boone or http://www.hospitalityhouseofboone.org.