LeRoy O. King, Jr.
1921 - 2009
LeRoy O. King, Jr., one of the country's leading authorities on electric railways, passed away in Dallas on August 13, 2009 at the age of 87.
King was born in Georgetown in the District of Columbia September 29, 1921 into a family lineage which preceded the American Revolution. Educated at The Sidwell Friends' School, he met his future wife while he was in the eleventh grade. After graduation from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, he entered Midshipmen's School at Notre Dame where he was commissioned ensign in the United States Navy Reserve. King married his high school sweetheart in 1943 prior to shipping out for the South Pacific where he served for the duration of World War II. He remained in the reserves after the war, retiring as a lieutenant in 1955.
King spent his professional career in the casualty insurance business first in California and then in Dallas, Texas where the family moved in 1961. He retired in 1986.
His father, LeRoy O. King, Sr., influenced his son in the study of streetcars and electric railroads. Together the two men photographed and documented electric railways across the country and especially the District of Columbia. It was from this jointly collected material that the younger King wrote his first book, "100 Years of Capital Traction" which became a landmark reference on streetcars of the nation's capital, recently being included in a list of "50 Essential Washington DC History Books" by the DC Public Library, Washingtoniana Division, and the DC Center for the Book.
King also edited and published two books on Washington area interurban systems "Every Hour on the Hour" and "Old Dominion Trolley Too." He edited "Texas Electric Railway" for the Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA) and contributed photographs, information and other resources to many CERA publications over his long association with that organization.
His encyclopedic knowledge of street railways was put to use in three full-color books published by Morning Sun Books wherein he edited the pictures and wrote the detailed captions.
King was a life member of the United States Naval Institute and a 50-Year member of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA). He wrote the original NMRA standards pertaining to electric railways. King enjoyed model railroading and assembled an HO scale layout with fully operational, scratchbuilt overhead based on his boyhood home in Georgetown.
Because of his vast knowledge of streetcars, interurbans and main-line electric trains, King's advice, counsel and assistance was sought from enthusiasts and researchers all over the world. There was never a call asking for his help with a project nor a search for an answer to some long forgotten trolley tidbit to which he did not graciously and eagerly respond. He presented papers and talks at NMRA and CERA meetings and for nearly 30 years hosted a monthly slide-show gathering at his Dallas home for local traction fans and friends.
He was also active in many other railroad history organizations including the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, the National Railway Historical Society and the Seashore Trolley Museum.
King was laid to rest with full military honors in the Dallas - Fort Worth National Cemetery. He is survived by his wife of nearly 66 years and one son.
Memorials may be made in his name to The Shore Line Interurban Historical Society, P.O. Box 425, Lake Forest IL 60045.