Dr. Robert E King, better known as Bob, will be posthumously inducted into the Manatee County Agricultural Hall of Fame on November 17 when we will celebrate not only his contributions to agriculture but also his birthday.
Dr. King was born November 18, 1934, on his family’s farm in Bradenton. He wore several hats throughout his 86 years of life which were filled with many adventures and accomplishments. His love of family, community, and God guided his life.
His deep affection for the land and all living things came from his early years growing up on the farm. He enjoyed participating in 4-H and would eventually serve as the first president of the Manatee County 4-H Foundation. He was an excellent student who also found the time to work at a dairy farm, on a chicken farm, and manage his own herd of cattle while still in high school. He graduated from Manatee High School in 1953.
After graduation, he attended Texas A&M University before transferring to Emory University a year later. He finished his undergraduate degree and continued at Emory University Medical School until his graduation in 1956. Next, he headed to Harvard University’s Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital for training in Ophthalmology. His residency was completed at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.
In 1963 Dr. King returned to Bradenton and began his practice. Two years later he opened the Manatee Eye Clinic with Dr. Roger Meyer where he worked until he retired in 1991. Due to his willingness to work with other physicians, he was able to introduce many innovations to the local medical community. In 1987 he published a book, “The History of the Practice of Medicine in Manatee County”. He also served as chief of staff at Manatee Memorial Hospital and was president of the Manatee County Medical Society.
Also in 1963, Dr. King met Susan Taylor whom he married two years later. They moved to their homestead along the Braden River and raised three children: Joseph, Martha Anne, and Benjamin. Along with his medical practice, Dr. King pursued his passions for farming, ranching, and his community. He was often heard joking with people and saying, “I was an eye surgeon so I could afford to be a farmer.” He was especially interested in providing opportunities for young people to learn about farming and ranching so that they could develop an appreciation of the benefits of agriculture. In addition to his support of 4-H, he helped establish the Manatee River Youth Ranch. As president and longtime member of the Bradenton Kiwanis, he especially enjoyed meeting, encouraging, and awarding scholarships to students so that they could further their education.
During his long career as a community leader, Dr. King received many honors and awards. These included induction into the Manatee High School Hall of Fame and the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame. He also was recognized with the Manatee County Distinguished Citizen Award, the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award, and the Bradenton Herald Community Service Award.
Dr. King and his wife of 55 years were lifelong members of the First United Methodist Church. They were founding members of the Braden River Methodist Church. In addition to their three children, they had nine grandchildren: Emma, Matthew, Will, Laura, Lea, Calla, Lily, Jen, and Reid.
He was an author, healer, student, teacher, farmer, rancher, family man, and community leader. During his impactful life of service, he touched many lives with his generosity, faith, and love. Our community is a better place today because of Bob King.
Please come celebrate Dr King's life, legacy, and love of agriculture at the Hall of Fame Luncheon honoring him on Friday, November 17th starting at noon at the Manatee County Extension Office in Palmetto. The event is free, but you must register for tickets at this link.