It is a time of reflection and sorrow as those who worked with long-time Precinct 2 Commissioner Chris King learned of his passing on Tuesday, July 23.
King, 64, began his tenure as a Wharton County elected official in 1991, at least a dozen times Precinct voters said ‘yes’ to being represented by him.
One of those who worked many years with King was Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath. The former El Campo mayor took office after former County Judge John W. Murrile opted not to seek a third term in 2010.
“Chris was kind, caring and always well-informed,” Spenrath said. “While there may have been some disagreements, Chris was always open and fair when it came to listening to differing perspectives. We have lost a legend ... a man of great wisdom, knowledge, and unquestionable respect. I am truly going to miss him.”
Precinct 2 Constable John Szymanski said he learned a lot from working with King as the two men entered office around the same time.
There were more good times than bad, he said, with the unfortunate incidents usually involving mother nature.
“We’d check flood levels, rivers, worked alongside each other inside Emergency Operations Centers (EOC). Those were some bad times, but we worked together and tried to help our citizens through it,” Szymanski said.
His off-the-job memories with King were about East Bernard sports – the Brahmas’ football, baseball, softball and other teams.
Having a son play for EBHS and the chance to see teams play deep in the playoffs on several occasions made for some memorable moments with the King family, Szymanski said.
One of the last times King was seen in public was before the Wharton County Commissioners Court was set to begin morning before at 9:30 a.m. He was unable to attend and had been absent from meetings several times this summer. He had been in ill health for quite some time and was always mentioned in the opening prayers by Precinct 1 Commissioner Richard Zahn, who sat next to King.
News of King’s death was mentioned July 23 evening during a Wharton ISD Board of Trustees meeting when a prayer was offered by Trustee Sherrell Speer.
Other elected officials and county workers offered their thoughts on King:
Andy Kirkland, emergency management coordinator:
“I’ve got a lot of Chris King stories, from operating backhoes in the rain to driving endless county roads looking for flooding. But this, I think, best sums up Chris. One night after Hurricane Harvey, soon after the flood waters had dropped and folks were cleaning out their houses, I met Chris at the ‘Temporary Disposal Site’ we set up in Glen Flora. I told him getting this site was very difficult to procure, and many obstacles had to be jumped to get this site. He told me he did not have time for the paper work, I would take care of that, he would take care of his people. That was Chris. Always taking care of his people. Our county will miss him, He was a voice of experience.”
Shannon Srubar, Wharton County sheriff:
“Commissioner King was well respected and appreciated by all elected officials. His wisdom and experience provided guidance to all that needed assistance. His active role as a part of the Wharton County Commissioners Court was well respected. King was a gentleman that researched and asked the right questions to ensure his decisions were appropriate. He will be dearly missed. He often showed his support for law enforcement through his gestures and kind words. His dedication to this community will never be forgotten.”