Oil Rigs

William Collins King

August 11, 1921 ~ November 22, 2020 (age 99)


William Collins King

Carolyn Ottilie Thorne King

 After a truly beautiful marriage of 69 years, William (Bill) Collins King and Carolyn (Carol) Ottilie Thorne King died within 12 hours of each other at their Countryside home in Longwood at Oakmont, PA. Bill, age 99, died on November 22, 2020, and Carol, age 97, died on November 23, 2020. They lived amazing lives through many challenging times and experiences and enriched the lives of all who knew them through their integrity, intellect, wisdom, creativity, kindness, positive outlook, and adventurous spirit. They were both born in Pittsburgh and had a life-long love for their hometown, even though they and their four children spent five wonderful years living in London, England, from 1967 to 1972. Bill was born on August 11, 1921, and Carol was born on November 17, 1923. Bill was the youngest child of Anne Blatchford Collins and William Raffington King. Carol was the eldest child of Louise Reinecke and John Mueller Thorne. They were married outdoors on September 1, 1951, in a double wedding with Carol’s sister Phoebe Anne, who was betrothed to William Greason Birmingham, at what is now Chatham University. Carol graduated from Edgewood High School (1942) and Pennsylvania College for Women/Chatham University (1946). She obtained her teaching certification from Mills College in California. After working as a substitute teacher and social worker in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, she taught kindergarten in the Pittsburgh Public and Forest Hills school systems until their first child was born in 1952. A champion of wholesome values, Carol was devoted to her family and developed strong, lasting friendships. Active, outgoing, and energetic, she enjoyed many sports, brass rubbing, pottery, gardening, and volunteering at the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and Meals on Wheels. Bill graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School (1939), Carnegie Institute of Technology/Carnegie Mellon University (in December of 1942 but with the Class of 1943), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1948). A WWII veteran, Bill served with the 1875th Engineer Aviation Battalion. His book, Building for Victory (2004), documents his experiences from 1943 to 1946 in India and Burma. During his 37-year career with the Gulf Oil Corporation, Bill served as worldwide coordinator of Gulf’s petrochemicals division, as vice-president of chemicals in Europe and the Middle East, and, from 1980 until his retirement in 1985, as vice president of corporate planning. Beginning in 1986, as president and later chairman of the board of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Bill was the motivating force in establishing the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA. He described that time in his life as one of the most fulfilling because he had the opportunity to meet and work with many fine people who were able to overcome every challenge and obstacle to create a history center showcasing this region’s worldwide significance. A life-long fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a season-ticket holder since 1972, Bill knew the team was 9-0 on the morning of the day he died. By the end of that day, the Steelers were 10-0. 1 Bill and Carol traveled the world with their family and friends and especially enjoyed spending time in Aspen (Colorado), Sanibel (Florida), and at “Happy Holler” (Fairhope, PA), a 90-acre retreat with two nineteenth-century log cabins that Carol’s mother had purchased to provide a gathering place for all generations of the extended family. Bill and Carol were founding members of the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church and Fox Chapel Racquet Club, and members of the Duquesne Club, Senator John Heinz History Center, and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. They are survived by Carol’s sister, Phoebe Anne Thorne Birmingham (Cleveland, OH), and by their children and their spouses: William Raffington and Charlene Packard King (Williamsburg, VA); John Thorne and Carole Williams King (Pittsburgh, PA); Louise Reinecke and Martin William Sturgess (Pittsburgh, PA); and Andrew Collins and Margaret Carrie King (Pittsburgh, PA). They were devoted to their 15 grandchildren and step-grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren and stepgrandchildren. They were predeceased by great-grandchild Heaven Malaika King Bailey. Carol was predeceased by her brother, John (Jack) Reinecke Thorne, and by her sister, Marianne (Mannie) Louise Thorne Wright. Bill was predeceased by his sister, Dr. Barbara Jean Wright. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in their memory to the "Senator John Heinz History Center" (1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222), or the “Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation" (100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450, Pittsburgh, PA 15219). Donations can be made online to these non-profit organizations: https://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/contribute/donate or https:// phlf.org/take-action/donate. May Bill and Carol rest in peace at Homewood Cemetery, knowing that they were deeply loved and respected by their family and friends. A celebration of their lives will be held in 2021, when Bill was looking forward to his 100th birthday and when Bill and Carol would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, funeral arrangements are private and under the direction of English Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Inc., 378 Maryland Avenue, Oakmont, PA 15139.

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