A memorial service for former Senate President Jim King, a Florida State alumnus and advocate, was held Tuesday at the James E. “Jim” King, Jr., Life Sciences Building on campus.
King, who died of pancreatic cancer on July 26 at age 69, was known for his loyalty to Florida State, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The two-time College of Business graduate was known as one of the university’s biggest boosters in the Legislature.
Florida State President T.K. Wetherell said, "Jim King was one of those special folks. Our world is better for his time here. There was never a more loyal Seminole. He supported just about everything Florida State-academics and athletics. He was a loyal, loyal person. "
FSU’s Life Sciences building is named for King, who was instrumental in forging the university’s partnership with the Mayo Clinic. The $55 million, 181,000-square-foot building was dedicated in September 2008.
The building brings diverse areas of biological science together under one roof to help drive and strengthen biology research.
At the time of the dedication, President T.K. Wetherell said, "Senator Jim King, a proud alumnus of this university, has been an enthusiastic and long-term supporter of Florida State who is dedicated to higher education and to advances in biomedical research, and it is therefore fitting that we are naming our wonderful new building in his honor."
Wetherell added, "In fact, Jim was instrumental in helping us to secure the funds for this essential facility. It stands today as a testament to his regard for FSU and his commitment to our students and faculty and the citizens of this state, all of whom will benefit from the enhanced opportunities here for top-notch science education and research."
King was a strong and effective advocate for the establishment of Florida State’s College of Medicine, with its unique mission of preparing physicians to serve the medically underserved. His support was also key to retention of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory on the Florida State campus. His backing was also vital to construction of the University Center.
Jim Smith, chairman of Florida State’s Board of Trustees, said, "Jim King has attributed much of his own success to this institution, and in return he has helped FSU succeed in positive, practical ways that will indeed pay quality-of-life dividends far beyond Tallahassee."
"He put a lot of energy into making sure Florida State would stay competitive with other universities around the state, as well as with others around the country," said another Florida State alumnus, Sen. Al Lawson.
The Florida State Boosters honored him with the 2003 Moore-Stone Award, citing his role in creation and support of the university’s booster clubs and noting, "Through all his success in his business, the House of Representatives and the Senate, Jim is best known to all of us as a brilliant visionary who built the Jacksonville Booster Club into a prototype for all clubs to follow."
According to the award citation, "Jim has been a larger than life motivator who has called into the Seminole Booster Leadership Conferences for his inspirational speeches. His love for Florida State athletics is still evident in his contagious and spirited personality."
King served the university in many ways, and scholarships in his name are awarded to students in the College of Business and College of Medicine.
In addition to an exhibit case containing a bust of King and other memorabilia, a plaque in his honor will be displayed at the King Building. It reads:
"Voice of the Florida Senate, Giant of State Government, Friend of Florida State Forever."