Friday, November 13, 2009

Bruce King dead at 85

(Updated to include audio interview posted at the bottom.)

Bruce King, New Mexico’s only three-term governor and one of the state’s most loved political figures, died overnight.
He was 85.

King, who served three non-consecutive terms from 1971 to 1974, from 1979 to 1982 and from 1991 to 1994, had been sick and died at his ranch home near Stanley.

King is survived by sons Gary and Bill, daughter in law Yolanda and his brothers Sam and Don, among many others in a large family in the Estancia Valley.

Many say King was a far cry from today’s slick politicians, sticking close to his country roots and his cowboy hats, known for once riding his horse to the state Capitol in a move to both save gas and attract a little publicity for the state’s nascent tourism industry.

King’s terms in office read like a history book for some of New Mexico’s biggest moments, including the 1980 riot at the state penitentiary.

Even for all he and his wife Alice did for the state, the pair never let their power or their position go to their heads, friends said over the years. Bruce King until recently stuck to simple traditions such as coffee with friends and family in the mornings at El Comedor in Moriarty, shaking hands with nearly everyone in the diner.

King, a Democrat, had a heart attack in 1997, but had been in fair health since then. Doctors in September performed surgery to improve the function of his pacemaker.

His wife, Alice died last December. The Kings were married 61 years.

Update, 9:15 a.m.

Attorney General Gary King just released this statement.

"Bruce King would be the first one to tell us all that death is just another phase in the cycle of life and that we must go on with our lives trying to do the best we can while helping others make their way too. None of us in the family thought this day would come so soon after we lost my mom Alice King, but we are comforted by the thought that Bruce and Alice can be together once again," he said.

Funeral plans are still being made. The Kings are asking that donations be made to the New Mexico Children's Foundation instead of flowers.


King, shown in this June 2008 photo with Michelle Lujan-Grisham, was never a stand offish, only-shake-your-hand kind of politician. Instead, he believed in hugs -- big hugs, for everyone.


During a speech at a Democratic Party event at Sandia Resort and Casino last year, King joked with former Gov. Toney Anaya. The pair both grew up in the Estancia Valley.


I took this photo at the King Ranch in the summer of 2008. The best part about getting to know the Kings was that they made you feel like your life was equally as interesting and important as theirs. Bruce in particular always asked me as many questions as I did him. He always looked for something in common with everyone else. In our case, it was growing up in the country.


Bruce and Alice were married 61 years. The pair were equally gracious and charming and both no doubt will be celebrated and mourned in the coming days.

Photos by Kate Nash


An interview I did with Bruce and Alice King on New Year's Day, 2007.

No comments:

Post a Comment