Henry Waters King Jr.

May 21, 1943November 20, 2020

Henry Waters King, Jr was born on May 21, 1943 in Decatur, Alabama. He was the first born child to Henry Waters King, Sr. and Arlene Shelnut King. The Kings were living in Decatur where Henry, Sr. was working for the war effort helping build aircraft in the Army Air Corp.

After his service, the family moved to New York City living on Staten Island, Henry, Sr. was employed by American Airlines in their maintenance department. In 1948, the family relocated to Nashville, Tennessee where they remained for the rest of their lives. Henry, Sr. continued working for American Airlines and became their Chief Mechanic in Nashville. The family lived on Glencliff Road in Nashville with many afternoons spent in the backyard playing ball along with the neighborhood kids.

Henry, Jr. known to his family and friends as “Buddy,” attended Nashville Public Schools graduating from Central High School where he excelled in academics and sports. He was always proud that he was selected to the “All NIL” Nashville Interscholastic League for playing football. In his senior year, he was recruited by the Boston Red Sox for baseball and he declined the opportunity choosing to take his chances after college.

After high school, he attended Middle Tennessee State College in Murfreesboro. In his junior year, with the Vietnam War raging, he knew that he would be drafted into the military, and he chose to join the United States Air Force. Yes, he did fly off into the “Wild Blue Yonder,” and had many exciting experiences. He had lots of stories about his duty station at Stephensville, Newfoundland where he was assigned to radar maintenance holding top secret clearance. He would describe watching Russian aircraft flying up and down the east coast of the U.S. during the Cold War.

In his free time while in Newfoundland he played baseball on the base team, winning MVP on several occasions. Another interesting thing occurred when his base commander asked him to play on the Ice Hockey team. Henry quickly told him that he did not know how to skate. The commander would not take no for an answer, and he found him a practice team with the local 8th Grade hockey team and made sure that he practiced each day that the team practiced. Henry said one day he realized he was skating backwards, and at that point he knew he could skate. Somehow, he left Stephensville without the hockey player's smile, and Henry kept all his front teeth. To this day, he still has the ice skates he used while playing.

After completing his military obligation, he returned to MTSU completing his degree in math and physics. He was so proficient in math that he could work math problems in his head faster than most people could figure it on a calculator. Once he completed his degree at MTSU, he headed to the “Hill” at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to study civil engineering. He had an interesting career in construction working on many well know iconic buildings in Nashville. He helped build the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and he designed the layout for all of the theaters within the building. He also worked on Citizens Bank, The Lowe's Vanderbilt Hotel, and the twin Gold Buildings located on West End Avenue. He always said his favorite project was the Criminal Justice Building located in downtown Nashville. He said that if he ever got placed in jail, he would know where all the exits were. He also planned the infrastructure for the Fieldstone Farms Home development in Franklin, TN. His last job was working for the State of Tennessee in their Bridge Department. So when you were backed up in traffic, it was probably caused by his crew inspecting bridges to make certain they were safe for use. He retired in 2008.

After acquiring our rescue dog “Sonic,” he spent every day at the dog park. Sonic would wait patiently at the front door for his ride to the park with Henry each morning for his daily romp whether it was raining out, the sun was shining, it was hot, or cold.

Henry is survived by his wife, Carolyn Scott King; and his son, Henry Waters King, III, of Nashville. Carolyn and Henry were introduced by their future sister-in-law, Dee Huffstedler, who arranged a blind date for them. They were married for 42 years and lived in the same house for 42 years. When his son, Chip was involved in sports, Buddy never missed a game in which Chip participated. He was always running up and down the field encouraging Chip to play his best.

Henry leaves behind his family of four siblings, Susan Dianne Martin and Jeffery Lynn King of Stateville, NC; his brother, Kelley Michael of Hurst, TX; and his youngest brother, James R. King of Asheboro, NC. Henry along with his family, were founding members of Glenwood Baptist Church located on Thompson Lane where the entire family spent many years dedicated to Christian service.

Henry was small in stature but a giant in character, never uttering an unkind word about any family member or business associate. He was fiercely private and shy with a sharp wit and sense of humor.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 tells us that “there is a time to live and a time to die and a man to rejoice and to do good in his life.” Today we release him to heaven where he can explore the universe, planets, stars and black holes which fascinated him. GOD SPEED, Henry Waters King, Jr.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Jude's Children's Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

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Pat (Patsy ) Vance Wise

November 26, 2020

My sympathy to the entire King family. Buddy was a great member of this family who were so loving and kind to me as an adolescent. This family was a storybook Christian family who left many lingering fond memories for me to cherish. While I was closest to Diane, all of the family were tru!y beautiful. Buddy made his mark to make the world a better place.


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