November 24, 1940 – July 19, 2018
Elizabeth King, age 77, died peacefully at home on Thursday July 19, 2018 surrounded by her loving family and caregiver, Shawn Burks. She was born November 24, 1940 to Dr. Jack King and Lucie Brack Bourdon in Little Rock, Arkansas. At age 12, she contracted polio and was told she would never walk again. Her determination and sheer strength was displayed as she was able to not only walk again, but also began dancing professionally for Arthur Murry by 16. She went on to attend university for Journalism and forge a strong career in media and public relations. Elizabeth enjoyed a lifelong commitment to community service. This began when she was a teenager and served on a board sponsoring the Mother’s March Against Polio and research. She went on to head Teens Against Polio for the state of Texas. She founded the Post-Polio Support Group, Inc., utilizing the contacts from her advertising firm, to bring disability issues to the forefront. This led to numerous advancements, including ensuring businesses were in compliance with ADA, which had just passed into law. She continued as Board President and Executive Director until enough money was raised to fund a team for Spa Area Independent Living Services (SAILS). Through grant writing and fundraising, she was able to obtain funding for a 20 person team with disabilities. She was recognized twice as a recipient of the JCPenney Golden Rule Award. She was the founder, publisher and editor of Woman’s World Weekly, which won five state press awards within the first month of publication. She became the editor of Longview News and Journal and was assistant society editor of the Tyler Courier-Times. During this time, she received more than 100 local, state, and national awards and honors, including The National Federation of Press Women Award for writing, editing and photography, Outstanding Young Women in America, Personalities in the South, and the Dorothy Dawe Award for writing and editing. She returned to Tyler Junior College as an instructor in journalism and creative writing. She founded the King Communications Scholarship at TJC for single mothers pursuing journalism. Her skills as a writer and photographer led her to travel as a freelance contributor for publications all over the world. During her travels, she was awarded a bonus of $1,000 for an article and used the money to purchase her first mink coat. At age 30, Elizabeth moved to Hot Springs and opened Elizabeth King & Associates, a PR and advertising firm, which she ran for over 20 years. They worked mostly with entertainers, such as Dottie West. She continued to write for The Sentinel Record, Arkansas Gazette, and Arkansas Democrat, contributing pieces on the Racing Commission meetings at Oaklawn and women in business. Community involvement was of utmost priority to her, and she served as a publicist and fundraiser for a multitude of other health related organizations. She served as Vice President of the Garland County Volunteer Center and served as President of the board for Hot Springs Rehabilitation Volunteers, Inc. for 10 years. She initiated and ran the Miss Boating Spirit Pageant and served as a judge for several pageants in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. A member of Delta Theta Chi Sorority for over 20 years, she served in all capacities and was awarded the Past-President’s Award, an organization very dear to her heart. She served as a volunteer for the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, the Literacy Council, Senior Ambassadors, and many other charities. She was the County Co-Chairman for Bill Clinton’s bid for Governor and actively worked on local campaigns through 2008. She loved theater, arts, and traveling. She served as President of Hot Springs Community Players and starred in Cactus Flower, among others. She turned her love for travel and rich culture into a consulting job after retirement from her PR firm. She became the leading outside salesperson for travel and led sightseeing tours around choir performances in England for 100 members, family, and friends of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. She was predeceased by her parents, Dr. Jack A. King and Lucie Brack Bourdon, and her nephew, Aaron Power. Elizabeth is survived by her daughter, Lysa Dickerson Lawless of Hot Springs, grandchildren, Taylor Webb of and Lindsay Lawless (Jesse Borcina), and her “other” daughter, Shawnette Ussery-Self (Les). She is also survived by her brothers, Jack King (Karen) and Kenneth King (Diane), her sister, Jacquline Power, her step-sons David Whitlow and Scott Whitlow, and several nieces and nephews. A visitation will be held on Sunday, July 22nd at Gross Funeral Home 4-6 p.m. with Funeral Mass and internment at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Monday, July 23rd at 11:00 a.m. A reception and celebration of her life will be held at St. Luke’s following the service. Honorary pallbearers will be the compassionate caregivers of All Ages Home Care, Dr. Nizar Suleman, Tabitha Crossley, and the extended Ussery and Self family who have been her second family for over 40 years. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to Eleanor Klugh Jackson House or SAILS Project, to honor the years of dedication and service to others that was such a part of Elizabeth’s life. Online Obituary and Guestbook are available at www.GrosFuneralHome.com.
- Eleanor Klugh Jackson House
- SAILS Project
- Visitation Sunday, July 22, 2018
- Memorial Service Monday, July 23, 2018
Polly Bourdon Walton
July 25, 2018
In the mid 1960s, my dad married Liz's mom and Liz and I became stepsisters. We lived together for one summer with our parents in the Longview house before Liz moved to Hot Springs and I went off the college. We would return to Longview to enjoy family holidays together as we visited our parents. Husbands and kids came along and our Christmases in Longview became even more uproarious. Our parents knew how to get the most out of life and enjoyed a good time. Many fond memories were made in those years!
I am sad Liz has passed on, but her memory and her brave spirit for tackling the next challenge will always be with us. God Speed, Liz.
July 23, 2018
I will never forget how you took me under your wings late 1970's thru 1980's. I'm forever grateful and honored to have been your friend. RIL.
July 21, 2018
I cannot begin to count the wonderful hours we spent together cussing and discussing every single topic under the sun--along with a bottle (or two) of wine to keep the jokes flowing.
Elizabeth--I've missed seeing you for a very long time--but I'll always remember your support, encouragement, and "give 'em hell" advice when I needed it most.
Rest in peace and love forever--
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