Edwin F. King believed there are no bad days. His family would have to say Friday, Jan. 8, was the exception, as that is when he moved on to the next ridge. He was born on Feb. 1, 1946, in Bennington, Vt., the son of Edna King Nichols and the grandson of Frank and Cora King of Bennington. Never without a fishing rod or jackknife, Ed always said he had the best childhood a boy could have.
After graduating from high school, in 1965, under the Buddy Program, Ed enlisted in the U.S. Army with his lifelong friend, Sherman Moffitt. They were immediately stationed in Vietnam as combat engineers in the D CO 169th Engineer Battalion and participated in multiple theater combat campaigns, including the Tet Counteroffensive. In 1968, after three straight tours, Ed was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with five campaign stars, and he and Sherm returned to Bennington, where Ed married his sweetheart, Donna (Greene).
In 1971, with three small children in tow, Ed and Donna sold everything that didn’t fit in their green GMC “Jimmy” and headed west where, on a dare, Ed applied for a position with the National Park Service for a job as a heavy equipment operator in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Much to his surprise, he was hired, and Ed and Donna moved into park housing, where they added three more children to the brood. Ed’s time in the Rockies was spent opening Trail Ridge in the spring by removing as much as 20 feet of snow from the roads and building the gabion retaining walls along Fall River Road. Ed was especially proud of his design and construction of the rubble masonry entrance sign for the Beaver Meadows Entrance for which he received the Special Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior. He was also one of the first rescue workers called in to help with evacuations and then recovery during the Big Thompson Canyon flood of 1976.
In 1979, he put in for a promotion for maintenance foreman of roads, grounds and trails in Acadia National Park. In January of 1980, Ed and Donna moved back east, where they settled in Mariaville and continued the job of raising their six kids, which was a full-time job on its own.
Ed was a man of great conviction. He believed if you hung out with bank robbers, you’d end up being one. He also thought it was important to help his neighbors. To deter his kids from the former and accomplish the latter, every summer, local farmers had six strawberry pickers and blueberry rakers working in their fields.
He was steadfast and loyal. Although he and Donna divorced, they always loved each other and remained friends until her passing in 2008.
Ed was a one-of-a kind outdoorsman. He understood that animals were creatures of habit and spent his life studying and observing them and nature. He shared this love with his sons and close friends and was never more in his element than when the leaves or beech nuts started falling.
He retired from the National Park Service in 2006. In 2009, it was his great fortune to begin dating Rhonda, the person he would spend the rest of his life with and love. Together they enjoyed gardening, canning, snowshoeing, hiking and being outside in nature. Mostly they loved just being together and sitting in front of the warm fire of their early mornings.
Ed was predeceased by his mother and grandparents. He leaves behind his wife, Rhonda Whalen; children Jeffrey, Matthew, Rebecca and her husband, Al Sebile, Heath and his wife, Jen, Amy and her husband, Eben Henderson, Ethan and his partner, Leslie Hill Davidson; stepchildren Patrick “Casey” Shannon and his wife, Jackie, Jonathan Fellis and his wife, Sarah, Brittany Aspinwall and her husband, Jimmy, and Eric Edgecomb; grandchildren Michaela, Hunter, Elijah, Tanner, Matthew, Dustin, Emily, Lincoln, Heather, Stella, Anna, Maci, Clara, Beau, Madison, Jessica and Dustin O., and great-grandchildren, Mariah and Declan.
Ed fiercely loved his family. He believed you should always put things back where you found them, pancakes should be “round and round, golden brown,” a fish would not get caught if he’d keep his mouth shut, you should keep your powder dry, you had two chances, there’s a little thing called worth, you should take your time going but hurry back, and it will feel better when it stops hurting.
There will be a private family ceremony. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Union River Sportsman Club, 936 Mariaville Road, Ellsworth, ME 04605. Online condolences can be shared at www.jordanfernald.com.