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King remembered for joy he brought others

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Updated: November 19, 2013 2:13PM

Though his life ended unexpectedly, Wilson King’s family and friends plan to celebrate knowing how much joy he brought to others.

King, 20, of Winnetka, was killed after being struck by a car April 12 in Denver, Colo., where he was a student at the University of Denver.

Neil Sutton knew King for 10 years and returned home from Vanderbilt University to attend services.

“He’s one of the best people I know,” Sutton said. “Honestly, he was my best friend. He always had a smile on his face.”

Sutton and King belong to Kenilworth Union Church, where they engaged in several service projects, including two international mission trips together to the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

“I’m a fairly decent Spanish speaker, but he couldn’t speak much Spanish,” Sutton said. “When we were there he would somehow find a way to communicate with them. He would make them laugh and play sports with them.”

Kenilworth Union Church Associate Minister Sarah Garcia came to the church six years ago and participated in the mission trips and local service projects with King.

“Even though he had a silly side he was also very sensitive and thoughtful,” Garcia said. “His parents really gave him the sense that even though he grew up on the North Shore to not take for granted all the gifts and blessings and to share them. He was pretty amazing.”

Garcia recalls King helping locals in Belize repair the roof of their school, building a dormitory in the Dominican Republic and assisting locals in Guatemala to make improvements to their homes. She best remembers his work with the local children of those regions.

“They loved to play sports and have fun with him,” Garcia said. “Everywhere we went he was a big hit with the children. He had such wonderful energy and spirit.”

King, a 2011 graduate of New Trier High School, played football and wrestled for the Trevians. His positive energy and smile were present on the gridiron as well.

“He knew when to dial it up and really turn on the focus,” said New Trier sophomore football coach Mark Colegrove. “His teammates knew Wilson would always be there to back them and they would do the same in return. He was definitely a positive energy that really sparked.”

Varsity football coach Dan Starkey’s first season as coach came during King’s senior year and he recalls one tough loss in which King stood out on the defensive line.

“A very tough loss for us (against Glenbrook South 42-7) he stood out,” Starkey said. “Against an offensive line for GBS that outweighed him and was bigger than him he stood out that week because of his effort.”

Starkey recalls his last visit with King only a few weeks ago when King came back to campus to visit coaches and to spend a little time in the weight room.

“He loved stopping by and talking to his former coaches and hanging out here at school,” Starkey said. “He had a huge heart and gave everything he had. He always had that smile on his face and loved being around his teammates.”

According to his aunt, Kitty Bliss, King was recently accepted to study at the London School of Economics this summer, something he was excited to be chosen for.

Their memories of King may differ, but his family and friends will always remember the smile he had on his face, his positive attitude and how much better their lives are for having known him.

“I’ll always take away his extremely positive outlook on life,” Sutton said. “The fact that he would always make other people happier. I feel he lived more in 20 years than most people do in a lifetime. It was amazing to be around him.”

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