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Friends remember Alex King, a ‘free spirit’ taken away

Barbara Hootman
barbara@blackmountainnewsc.com

Alex King had energy, enthusiasm and a free spirit, say friends who remember her time in the Valley.

Rachel Greenan, a close friend, remembered the 22-year-old woman as remarkable.

“She was a woman of true wisdom and beautiful kindness,” said Greenan, who went to school with King. “The Bible quote, ‘She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue,’ describes her best. She was kind to everyone, loved with her whole heart and accepted people just as they are, perfectly imperfect.”

King, a 2011 graduate of Owen High School, went missing in Asheville with her partner Tatianna Diz on Oct. 27. After a search much talked about in the Valley and in Asheville, their bodies were pulled two weeks ago from the French Broad River. Charged with first-degree murder in connection with their deaths, is Pierre Lamont Griffin II, to whom the two women had given a ride, according to Asheville police. As of last week, he was in Buncombe County Detention Center without bond.

King is the daughter of Michael Dane “Butch” King and Doris Reed King of Swannanoa. Friends and family gathered for a memorial service Nov. 12 at First Baptist Church of Swannanoa.

King loved others “with grace,” Greenan said. “She cherished those around her beyond measure and appreciated each person for the gifts and talents God game them.” Greenan described her as “a simple sort of free spirit that never took a single day for granted.” Alex was “a blessing to every person she met, but she was more than that to me, she was like a sister,” Greenan said.

Jenifer Dale’s twin daughters played soccer with King at Owen High, and she remembers her well for her personality.

“I always said that Alex King had such an amazing charisma and intelligence that if she channeled her personality positively, I felt she could be the first woman president,” Dale said.

King was an amateur competitive chess player and homecoming queen her senior year at Owen High. She had taken classes at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College while in high school and found work at Cracker Barrel in Asheville, where she worked since 2013.

King’s mother told The Asheville Citizen-Times that her daughter loved everyone and everything, including animals, nature, God, family and friends. She described her as multi-talented and self-taught on piano, guitar, flute, drums and violin.

Tate McQueen, King’s former high school soccer coach at Owen, remembers her as a player with a gregarious spirit.

“She balanced her intensities with her carefree spirit,” he said. “Her dad ‘Butch’ King did our pregame introductions and music. Her mom was a huge supporter of the soccer team and her daughter. Our heart aches for her family and friends.

“When I heard what had happened, it made me sick to my stomach. By all accounts, King was very much at peace and happy. She had cleared some major hurdles in life. I hope her family can take comfort in her happiness, and I hope people will stay in contact with the family.”

Amy Slaughter, the math department chair and a teacher at Owen High School, remembers King as person who wanted everyone to be happy.

“When I remember Alex, I think of her always smiling,” she said. “Also, she was constantly trying to find a way to help those around her smile as well. She will be missed by many.”

Mary Ann Osby taught dance at Owen High for 25 years and remembers King’s positive energy. “Alex was full of energy and had a positive vibe that affected those around her,” Osby said. “Her smile was welcoming to everyone. Alex was a vibrant soul. My heart aches for the King family and this community.”

Belinda Blankenship, one of King’s friends and high school classmates, remembers King as a person with a radiant personality.

“Alex radiated throughout the community with her amiable and open personality,” she said. “Her heart never knew a stranger, and she was an indomitable force to those around her.”

Eric Travers of the Travers Brothership Band, was also a classmate of King’s at Owen High, and knew her well.

“I knew her for nine years,” he said. “We were in touch this last month, and she was coming to one of our shows. She was very much a social butterfly with the most friends of anyone in school. She got along with everyone.

“Alex took herself very seriously, and everything she did was well thought out. She was aware that she was an example to others. She helped people become comfortable with themselves. When I learned what happened, my heart just dropped. We were tight and had mutual respect for each other. She supported the idea of rebellion, and I liked that in her.”

A fund to help the families with expenses has been set up at http://bit.ly/1MgBh05.

Memorials may be made in honor of Alex to Michelle Burleson, 30 Pinedale Lane, Asheville, 28805.