HANCOCK—Lisbeth McRea Kephart King, an 82-year summer resident of Hancock, died May 29, 2010, at the age of 84.
She spent part of every summer in Maine from the age of 2 onward and had a lifelong passion and fervent sentimentality for Downeast Maine. Mrs. King’s family home, the Watson Homestead on the Hancock Point Road, is one of the oldest houses in the area and has been in her family since 1813. When Mrs. King would drive across the Piscataqua River Bridge and enter the state, she would always say without fail, “The air smells different up here in Maine.”
Born in 1926 in her beloved New York City, Mrs. King spent her childhood in Brooklyn Heights and was an early Democratic activist, holding signs for FDR’s re-election campaign when she was just 10 years old. By 1941 she was living with her family on assignment for U.S. Steel in the Philippines when the Japanese invaded. She spent over three years in Santo Tomas prison camp in Manila, feeling lucky for the rest of her life to have survived the war. She remained close friends with many of her fellow internees throughout her entire life. A talented artist, Mrs. King attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh after the war, where she was a classmate of Andy Warhol, who complimented her extensively on her artistic work. After college she returned to New York and spent 12 very happy years at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency during the golden era of that industry. It was at J. Walter Thompson that she made many lifelong friends, foremost among which was her late husband, Herbert Lewis King. Mr. and Mrs. King moved to Wilton, Conn., in 1960 and opened King Real Estate, developing much of the town (which still had working farms at that time) and naming many of its roads. Mrs. King was very active in Democratic politics in the town, chairing the Democratic Town Committee and the League of Women Voters. She also worked in statewide politics and was a member of the nominating committee for students seeking entrance to the U.S. military academies. During all this time, Mrs. King visited Maine without fail, and spent many happy summer weeks relaxing with family and friends and staying in Hancock. Mrs. King was an exceptionally outgoing person who formed dozens longstanding friendships. As those who knew her would quickly attest, she had a powerfully beautiful spirit of kindness, love, generosity, elegance, grace, intellectualism and sophistication. She was truly a unique person and will be dearly missed.
She is survived by her son, Justin Andrew Burns King, and his wife, Maria, of Nashua, N.H.; and by her sisters, Nell Kramer of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Nancy Kephart of Hancock.
A memorial service will be held in July in Hancock in her honor. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: The Santa Fund, c/o Hancock Woman’s Club, P.O. Box 274, Hancock, ME, 04640.