Call of the Valley: Pam King's path to Board of Aldermen
Pam King’s involvement in civic affairs followed a gradual, steady course. It all began in Aau Gallie, a small Florida town near the Kennedy Space Center, when she became involved in the Methodist church’s youth group.
"It gave me an opportunity to get real active, come up with ideas and show some leadership," she said. "After learning that the upper floor of the new church building was vacant, I suggested we make it into a coffee house, decorate it, sell tickets and offer entertainment on Friday nights. As it happens, my English teacher and another teacher friend were guitar player/singers and so I hired them to perform popular songs during the folk revival at that time."
Later on in college, King majored in political science and discovered how government agencies work and the effect they could have on people’s lives. During the early '70s, she attended state legislature sessions keying on the proposed Equal Rights Amendment and was also taken with Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s arguments before the Supreme Court over women’s rights.
"At that time, a woman couldn’t have a credit card. Couldn’t get a mortgage without a father or a husband signing off on it," King said. "By then I felt I had to do my part. I even marched against the war in Iraq. At the end of each day, I want to know I did something. That’s what all of us need to do in our society, become involved and aware and speak up. There are a million issues to care about."
A decade followed when she kept up her awareness, married and moved to Vero Beach, found employment as a foster care social worker and raised three children. In turn, the foster work served to touch her directly.
"I remember one night in particular," King said. "The police lights were flashing, and we had to remove an abused crying 3-year-old little girl from her home. After these experiences, I went on and worked for United Way, engaging in the fundraising aspect of social services. And then became the executive director of a nonprofit providing quality child care for low income families.”
With family roots in North Carolina and having spent many vacations in these mountains, when King met her second husband, Rooney, who happened to be a native North Carolinian, soon enough they were both of a mind to leave Florida and return to this area.
"By this point, I had Asheville fever," she said. "It was just magical, all the art and music and the liberal lifestyle. I needed a big change from the sedentary world of Vero Beach. I still remember one time in Pack Square when a full moon came up over the Blue Ridge mountains and there was Percy Sledge singing 'When a Man Loves a Woman'."
Seven years ago, they eventually came across a cottage in nearby Black Mountain and fell in love with the place and the people. She went on to serve on the Greenways Committee, fostered a Friends of the Library board and created a community hub.
"The library makes the whole town better," King said. "It offers free access to information which is critical in a free society. During this pandemic, there are children who need to access Wi-Fi in order to attend school.”
And it’s this abiding sense of community that continues to sustain her.
"People care about each other here and always want what’s good for our little town," she said. "When Rooney passed away and we had this celebration of his life at the White Horse Tavern, to my amazement 250 people showed up. They all reached out to me with so much love and support."
Grief-stricken, it took almost a year until she once again answered the call and, for the first time, ran for office. Presently, as a newly elected alderman, King envisions "keeping this wonderful community going, bringing new ideas to the table representing all the people through transparency and accessibility," she said. "With this pandemic, what guidelines are enforceable to keep us all safe? How can we become the greenest small town in North Carolina? These are just a few of our tasks as we look ahead."