Patricia L. King, 70, equestrian, teacher's aide

July 18, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Patricia L. King, a retired teacher's aide who spent three decades working with special-needs students and who was an accomplished equestrian, died Friday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care of glioblastoma multiforme, an incurable and aggressive form of brain cancer. The Parkville resident was 70.

She was born Patricia Lee McDermot in Baltimore and was raised in Northwest Baltimore. After graduating from Forest Park High School in 1953, she worked for several years for Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co.

In 1955, she married her childhood sweetheart, Frederick H. King, who survives her. The couple had lived in Parkville since 1961.

In 1970, she began working as a teacher's aide at the old Ridge School on West Joppa Road near Towson, which is now the Ridge-Ruxton Center. She retired in 2001.

Mrs. King, who rode horses throughout most of her life and had owned two horses, Rye's Favourite, and her last horse, Quasi, preferred challenging cross-country rides to endlessly circling in a ring.

"She was extremely athletic, and hers was no dainty, old-lady type of riding. She rode with a group and it wasn't uncommon for them to ride all the way to the Pennsylvania line and back to Glencoe or Sparks," said her son, Kevin B. King of Lutherville.

In her retirement, Mrs. King found a way to combine her love of special-needs children with her love of horseback riding, and began volunteering at the Rose of Sharon Equestrian School in Glen Arm.

The school, founded by Joan Marie Twining, provides therapeutic horseback riding for children and adults.

"Pat was my most unique volunteer because she had experience with special-needs children and horses, so we became fast friends," said Ms. Twining. "She'd be the side walker while they held the reins or she'd be the lead with someone else as side walker."

Mrs. King was popular with the school's students.

"All the children just loved Miss Pat," Ms. Twining said. "She also worked with adults, including a woman who had a serious brain injury due to an auto accident. She wasn't supposed to survive her coma but she did and Pat had her up walking and trotting" on a horse.

Mrs. King also enjoyed singing. For 48 years, she was a member of the Sweet Adelines and also sang with the Pride of Baltimore Chorus.

Mrs. King, her husband, a retired music teacher for Baltimore County schools who had been choir director at Overlea High School, and their two children performed as the Family Four at many area barbershop shows.

In April, her son said, she began having trouble writing. Soon afterward came the discovery of the tumor that claimed her life.

Mrs. King last rode Easter week, her family said.

"She was always happy, positive and energetic. She had a good sense of humor and I never saw her down or worried," Ms. Twining said. "The children miss her and keep asking about Miss Pat."

Mrs. King was a member of Perry Hall United Methodist Church.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to her husband and son, Mrs. King is survived by a daughter, Kerry Lee Vance of North Plainfield, N.J.; a sister, Lula Grace Thomas of Westminster; and four grandchildren.

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