Governor Alexander A. Farrelly

  Caribbean . . .

CYRIL EMMANUEL KING

Senator, Governor

Born: St. Croix (1921 - 1978 )


A protégé of and former assistant to U. S. Senator Hubert Humphrey, Cyril Emmanuel King became the second elected governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1974. The son of Martin and Melvin A King, he became known as "a man of the people." Born on St. Croix on April 7, 1921, he received his elementary education at St. Ann's Catholic School and graduated from St. Mary's School.

In the 1940s with the outbreak of World War II, he was inducted into the U.S. Army. While at Camp Plauchen, New Orleans, Louisiana, he attended leadership-training courses. Upon completion he was recommended for advanced officer training, but this offer had to be disregarded as he was shipped overseas and joined the Pacific Theater troops in Hawaii.

After he was discharged he moved to St. Thomas and was employed as a bookkeeper at Lindquist’s 150 Garage and later at the Department of Public Welfare with Dr. Roy W. Bornn.

In 1947, he entered American University, Washington, D.C. and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public administration. He later did graduate studies in government, public administration, and political science.

In 1949, he went to work for U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey and began a professional relationship, which lasted throughout his lifetime as both a profitable and rewarding experience. He initially was employed as an aide in the senator's office in Washington, D.C. and became the first Black to serve in this or any other senator's office. He subsequently became a staff member in the office and was in charge of research for the Special Committee on Disarmament, of which Senator Humphrey was chairman. Mr. King also represented the senator at the Disarmament Conference held jointly by the Post World War Council and the Committee for World Development and World Disarmament at Arden House in Harrison, New York.

His twelve years' experience in Senator Humphrey’s office provided much of the background for his future political activities. In 1961, President John E. Kennedy appointed him government secretary in the administration of Ralph M. Paiewonsk-y.

During this, time King was given the opportunity to tour Africa. Representing the U.S. State Department, he traveled to five African countries on speaking engagements.

He continued as government secretary until Governor Paieworskv resigned in 1969 and King was named acting governor for four and one half months.

In 1970. King launched a campaign seeking the office of governor of the territory. This election heralded a new era in the Virgin Islands when the electorate, through the Governor Act passed by Congress on August 23, 1968, first voted for their own governor.

King waged an exceedingly competitive campaign. Results of the election in which three qualified Virgin Islanders participated showed King with 5,422 votes, Dr. Melvin Evans with 4,926, and Senator and Judge Alexander Farrelly with 4,634. A run-off election was necessary and Melvin Evans emerged as the winner.

However, in 1972, King was elected senator of the Virgin Islands Legislature and served one term. In 1974, he renewed his interest in the gubernatorial race, was successfully elected, and gained the honor of being the second elected governor of the territory.

Governor King was tremendously popular and admired for his charisma and the tough, no-nonsense character of his administration. Unfortunately, his goals were short-lived since he became critically ill and died January 2, 1978, ten months before the completion of his first term of office.

Many tributes have been bestowed on Governor king during his lifetime. His community honors include the United Caribbean Youth Award, presented in New York City, 1968. He served as honorary chairman of the Virgin Islands Boy Scouts of America, was a member of the American Veterans Committee, Junior Chamber of Commerce international, and an honorary member of the Lions Club. A devout Roman Catholic, he was also a lay reader at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

In recognition and appreciation of his years of "faithful and dedicated services" to the people of the Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands Legislature approved Act No. 4993 on October 3, 1984, through which the contributions of Cyril E. King were preserved by renaming the Harry S. Truman Airport on St. Thomas the Cyril E. King Airport and mandated that an appropriate plaque be affixed at the entrance of the airport. The new airport opened in November 1990, retained the name, and is the Cyril E. King Airport.

He was married to the former Agnes Agatha Schuster. Their daughter is Lillia Elise. He died in St. Thomas and was buried in the King's Hill Cemetery in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.

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