Richard Adrian King, a North Carolina native born in Kinston in January 1942, died January 4, 2021. His parents were Ernest and Laura King.
Adrian grew up in Kinston and graduated from Grainger High School in 1960, having participated in many extracurricular activities and serving as senior class president. He enrolled at Wake Forest University, serving as Associate Editor of the Old Gold and Black student newspaper, and chairman of the NC Young Republicans’ Club. He graduated in 1964 with a BA in Political Science. Adrian entered his professional life as a political and government reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer, staff member in Robert Scott’s 1968 campaign for governor, and Director of Public Affairs for the North Carolina Department of Natural and Economic Resources 1969-1971. He moved to Atlanta in 1974 and in 1977 helped organize a nine-state regional organization to support the arts of the South, leading to appointment in 1978 to the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington, D.C. In 1987, Adrian returned to Atlanta becoming Executive Director of the Southern Arts Federation.
In 1991, he began working for the Coca-Cola Company Foundation, managing corporate contributions to cultural and educational institutions in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. He expanded the Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship Program to more than 400 U.S. and 50 Chinese college campuses, expanded contributions to Wake Forest, Duke University, and other colleges and universities in the U.S. and Europe, and managed grant initiatives for the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, and the Old Globe Theater in London. Adrian also managed grant programs in Vietnam, the Philippines, and China. Prior to retiring from Coca-Cola in 2003, he helped create the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund and was appointed to the Georgia Council for the Arts by Governor Zell Miller. Returning to Kinston, Adrian was elected in 2005 to be Executive Director of the Pride of Kinston, Inc., the city’s downtown revitalization organization where he oversaw many projects and developments to create new businesses in downtown Kinston. Retiring again, but not for long, in 2017 he became the current Director of KARE (Kinston Area Recovery Efforts).
Among many, Adrian’s civic associations are: Lenoir Memorial Hospital Board, Lenoir County Historical Association, Kinston Rotary Club (past President), Lenoir-Greene United Way Board, Lenoir Committee of 100, CSS Neuse Gunboat Association, Kinston-Lenoir Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (member), Lenoir County Community Foundation, NC Governor’s Volunteer Award (2011 recipient), and Kinston-Lenoir County Citizen of the Year.
Surviving family members include two daughters, Susan and Blair, and their families; brother, Julian King, and family of Raeford, NC; and sister, Janice King Jones, and family of Chapin, SC. He was predeceased in death by his parents and sibling, Tillman King.
A service honoring Adrian will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 10, 2021 at King Family Cemetery on NC Highway 58 South in Kinston.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Adrian’s memory may be made to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 800 Rountree Avenue, Kinston, NC 28501.
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