Malcolm E. King, conservationist

June 11, 1994|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

Malcolm E. "Mac" King, retired chief of information and education for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and an award-winning conservationist, died May 24 of congestive heart failure at the health care center of Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg. He was 80.

The Gaithersburg resident retired in 1982. He started working at DNR in 1945, when it was the Maryland Game and Inland Fish Commission. He became public relations director in 1949.

His awards for conservation include a 1993 Governor's Medal of Distinction, a 1993 citation from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a 1964 American Motors Conservation Award and a 1975 Founders Award of the Izaak Walton League.

A conservation park near Gaithersburg is named for him.

Mr. King's interest in conservation came from his mother, Emma Jane King, who in 1927 became Maryland's first female deputy )) game warden. She lived in a cottage in what is now suburban Gaithersburg, looking after a small refuge on Seneca Creek. She also raised game animals for parks and animal refuges.

As a conservationist, Mr. King adapted programs from such groups as the Izaak Walton League and the federal Soil Conservation Service for use in Maryland. He worked with very little funding and sometimes bypassed local officials, such as the Montgomery County farm agent, to get the job done.

He bought a bulldozer to use in his projects to build ponds and wetlands. On one occasion, he talked State Roads Commission workers into building a parking lot near a roadside fishing pond he had developed.

After the dedication of the pond, then-Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin was handed a fishing rod and caught a largemouth bass with it, not knowing that earlier Mr. King had hooked the fish to the line.

Building on the success of Mr. King's effort, the state built 23 other roadside fishing ponds.

In 1969, Mr. King, who was a board member of the Izaak Walton League, adapted one of its programs to start the Save Our Streams Program, now nationwide and in Canada, in which people adopt streams near their homes.

Mr. King helped obtain donations of land for conservation programs, for a hunting area on the Eastern Shore, for much of what is now Seneca Creek State Park, for the Maryland Ornithological Society's Irish Grove Preserve on the Eastern Shore, and for the new national headquarters of the Izaak Walton League, now under construction near Gaithersburg.

A native of the Damascus area, he was a graduate of Gaithersburg High School and Georgetown University and served in Navy construction battalions during World War II.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Grace United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg.

He is survived by two brothers, Donald G. King of Gaithersburg and Clark F. King of Damascus; a friend of 48 years, Jean Serf of Gaithersburg; and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations may be made to the Mac King Memorial Building Fund of the Izaak Walton League of America, 1401 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va.

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