Josephine  King
Josephine King died Sept. 12, of complications from a stroke. She was the daughter and only child of Joseph Coleman and Leola Keese King, who predeceased her. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, at Moores Funeral Home Chapel.
Growing up in Macon, Ga., she attended Clisby Elementary School, where her mother taught, and graduated from Miller High School in 1959. A lifelong reader, she began checking out books from the general collection at Mary Washington Library at the age of 6. She attended and graduated from The Woman's College of Georgia (now Georgia College) in Milledgeville, where she earned accolades for her talents as a writer. Earning a master's degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, she went on to complete all coursework for the doctorate there and at Auburn University.
Josephine began her teaching career of more than 40 years at Berry College in Rome, Ga. Over time she taught at colleges in North Carolina and Tennessee and in the public schools of Burke, Peach and Wilkinson counties. In Milledgeville, she resumed college teaching at Georgia College, her alma mater, and at Georgia Military College (GMC). Former students remember her as one who inspired and expanded not only their love of language and literature but also their curiosity about all aspects of life on earth. They also remembered that she, who disdained and spurned electronic devices in any form, said they could submit handwritten rather than typed essays.
Chief among her many interests was Flannery O'Connor, the internationally acclaimed writer who lived and wrote in Milledgeville. As a college student, Josephine remembered annual visits with Ms. O'Connor at her home, Andalusia Farm. Like other members of the College Literary Guild, she was awed by the writer who said so little but saw so much. Over the years Josephine contributed immensely to the understanding of O'Connor's work: she wrote and illustrated the O'Connor Perpetual Calendar, composed amusing and perceptive cartoon maps of Andalusia and Milledgeville, and contributed memorable cartoons for the first 17 years of the Flannery O'Connor Review. She presented at scholarly gatherings hosted by Georgia College; some of her papers are in Special Collections at the Ina Dillard Russell Library at the College. Less well known is that, as a volunteer at Andalusia, Josephine relaid the brick walkways around the house. Her scholarly interest informed her talent as a bricklayer.
Another lifelong passion of Josephine's was animals. One of her first memories was the feel of her face in animal fur. She always had a beloved dog or cat, or several, and she was acutely sensitive to the needs of vulnerable, homeless creatures. She volunteered at and supported the Animal Rescue Foundation in Milledgeville and sent donations to countless other animal welfare organizations. Local veterinarians will remember her for bringing to them animals to be neutered at her own expense.
She was a gardener who cultivated castoffs in the plant world, once gathering the ubiquitous and notoriously invasive roadside privet and using it to create a maze in her garden. Also in her garden were grapes growing on an arbor that she had built, native azaleas, and numerous annual and perennial flowers.
Books overflowed in every corner of her house from the officially designated "library" to bookshelves lining the hallway, the dining room, on every surface in her living room, and stacked by her bed. Her taste was both broad and deep. She loved fiction (first reading "Tobacco Road" when she was 6 years old) especially Charles Dickens, nonfiction including histories of the Civil War and early America, the Bible and other religious writings, and anything having to do with England. Friends going to her house would find her sitting at her dining room table with a book propped on a stand in front of her.
Josephine was devoted to her church, Hardwick Progressive Primitive Baptist, and the other members of the congregation. For many years she wrote and put on an annual Christmas play that attracted church members and others from the community. One year a memorable title was "Primitive Baptists Go to Heaven."
Her friendships were many and lasting. All remember "Jo" as witty, perceptive, keenly intelligent, intellectually curious, and kind. She loved escapades. One friend remembers being persuaded by her to climb to the attic in one of the old buildings on the Georgia College campus in the middle of the night to retrieve and "relocate" a statue of Venus de Milo that she had discovered on one of her reconnoitering trips.
One of her beloved friends summed her up this way: "She was driven to read, to write, to draw, to laugh, to learn, to grow her own mind, her own spirit, and to nurture plants, creatures, fellow humans to grow, too." She will be missed but her spirit will linger with those who remember her.
She is survived by her cousins, Caroline Holder Pierce of Eatonton, Ga., and Carolyn Starling of Cuthbert, Ga., and many friends.
Those who wish may make donations in her memory to the Animal Rescue Foundation, P.O. Box 1032, Milledgeville, GA 31059-1032.
Moores Funeral Home and Crematory has charge of arrangements.
Published on September 17, 2019

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