Harrow County Staff

Mr. W. H. King

When one has known a colleague for some thirty-five years it is indeed a sad task to write a valedictory.  At the end of this term the School will be saying good bye to Mr. King, and it has fallen to me, once again, to pay a tribute to one I have known for so long a time, one whose friendship I have been privileged to share, and one whose sterling qualities I have always admired.

A period of service extending to forty-three years in one school makes the parting take on something of the nature of a "Good bye, Mr. Chips" - with this difference, that Mr. King is not as elderly as that renowned pedagogue, nor is he in the least infirm.   Indeed, we trust that he has still a considerable measure of energetic life before him.  But there is the same sense of, as it were, the going of a traditional figure, the snapping of a link with the past, and the severance of a bond of fellowship forged throughout the years.

When one solitary candle was shedding its hopeful light over the school's birthday cake in 1912, Mr. king came as a young graduate to teach Latin in this very young school.   Even the Headmaster was Young.  Those were the days when the foundations of future traditions were being laid, and in that process he was keenly active.  The support he gave to the 4th Harrow Scout Troop, whose reputation spread far afield, was such that it took serious physical toll of him.  In 1914 he started to teach French, and ever since he will have been best remembered as a teacher of that language.  And almost for as long he has been the Housemaster of Welldon.

Thousands of boys have passed through his hands in the course of his life's work, boys who should be extremely grateful that they came under the influence of his high scholarship and fine personality.  Many of them are dotted over the face of the globe, but I am quite sure they bear him in sincere and affectionate remembrance.  I have noticed that when Old Boys pay the school a visit and enquire after masters and old playmates, he is invariably one of the first names they mention.  This should be a consoling thought to him in his leisure moments when memories of the past come flooding into his mind.  Indeed the regard in which he is held by so many is the Crown, so to speak, of one of such a regal name.

"Your monument abides, wrought not in stone
or clay, but in the lives of those whose gain
was knowing you."

Housed in his not too robust body is withal a gracious spirit.  His modesty, his gentlemanly and serene bearing are plain for all to see.   have seen him furious at a boy's barbaric behaviour, and really irate at some lazy creature's resolve to cease from mental fight, but never have I witnessed therewith a loss of dignity.  For long I shall bear his impeccable and meaningful reading of the Lesson at the morning worship.  That was always a joy to me.

Mr. King has seen the School's steady and prodigious growth from those far off days, and he must have had scores of experiences on which from time to time he will reflect.  Suffice it to say that we shall miss him very much, and we dare to hope that we who remain may be counted worthy for him to think on us in his kindly fashion.   Thus the final curtain falls.

Mr. and Mrs. King, I understand, are continuing to live in this neighbourhood, and we trust that they may be long spared to each other in health and strength to enjoy the happy and contented retirement they so richly deserve.  When they drop in on us from time to time, as we assuredly hope they will, to none will it give more delight than to those of us in whose hearts they hold a specially warm corner.

George Thorn            

From Gaytonian December 1954

The news of the death on Christmas Day of Mr. W. H. King will bring back to very many Old Gaytonians memories of one of our outstanding masters.  He joined the Staff in 1912 when the School was but a year old and stayed until his retirement in 1954 having given it 43 years of devoted service which contributed so much to its development and success and to the well-being of all connected with it.

I write as one who was both a pupil and a colleague.  Those of us who were privileged to have him as a teacher will remember a quiet scholarly figure who combined effective teaching and efficient discipline with a genuine kindly interest in our welfare both in and out of the classroom.  As one of his colleagues for many years I can say how popular he was in the Common Room and how grateful we were for the help and support he so readily gave to us.

His passing is a sad occasion for us all, but there is some consolation in the knowledge that until almost his eightieth birthday he was able to be out and about and to the end his mind was as alert and as active as ever.

From The Old Gaytonian 1970


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