IN MEMORIAM: Henry L. King

by Jane Ahrens

Henry L. King died peacefully June 18, 2018 at age 90. He is survived by his loving family: his wife, Margaret Gram King, four children, Matthew (Elizabeth), Katherine Baccile (Peter), Andrew (Topsy) and Eleanor Stringfellow (Matthew), Margaret’s sons, Michael Sokolov (Ellen) and Joseph Sokolov, 15 grandchildren (Eliza and Jack Cantlay; Isabelle, Harrison and William King; Nicholas, Alexander, Caroline and James Baccile; Wesley, Bennett and Melissa King; and Mason, Alice and Grace Stringfellow), three step-grand-daughters (Matilda, Rosie and Sophie Sokolov) and son-in-law Dave Cantlay. His daughters Elizabeth Robertson and Patricia Cantlay predeceased him.

After high school in Brooklyn, he graduated with honors from Columbia College in 1948, received a degree from Yale Law School in 1951 and began an over 60-year legal career at Davis Polk & Wardwell as a litigator, becoming a partner in 1961. His practice focused on antitrust and securities law but he handled a great variety of matters. He successfully challenged New York City’s calculation of its female employees’ pensions based on their longer life expectancy, resulting in lower annual payments to women than men. Over time, his practice shifted to corporate board advisory work and complex arbitration. He served as the firm’s managing partner for twelve years, when it moved from downtown to midtown, opened more foreign offices and adjusted to an ever more global economy. He championed the promotion of women. He was always ready to help individuals and groups navigate crises or achieve personal goals, enabled by his excellent listening skills, calm demeanor, non-judgmental attitude and personal warmth.

He served as Columbia University’s Board Chair for two terms, heading up searches for Presidents George Rupp and Lee Bollinger. He also chaired the University’s Health Sciences Advisory Committee. He was a member of Trinity Church Wall Street’s vestry. He later led the Trustees of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, shepherding its recovery from a devastating fire and development of a residential building on its Close, the latter funding Cathedral maintenance and charitable missions. He served as President of the New York State Bar Association. He remained involved with Yale Law School. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, American College of Trial Lawyers and College of Commercial Arbitration. He served on the boards of the American Skin Association, Chapin School, Episcopal Charities, New York Academy of Medicine, Population Council, Citizens Committee for New York City, and Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

On Fishers Island, he was also very active in several organizations during his 55 years of weekending and summering there. In the 1970ies, he helped to start and served on the board of the Island Health Project, obtaining its 501(c)(3) status, which required a persuasive presentation about the special needs of a small island, and has enabled IHP to successfully serve the Island for over four decades. He also served as President of the Hay Harbor Club in the 70ies, and later served on the boards of the Fishers Island Club and FIDCO. Especially with regard to the latter, he addressed various challenging and unusual legal issues, including the potential for a shareholder’s suit, and ultimately advised that the Club and FIDCO boards not overlap, which is the current status. He was also a member of the Fishers Island Yacht Club, where he kept his Mako “Ransom” for a number of years, and the Sportsmen’s Club, through which he greatly enjoyed shooting weekends with friends. He belonged to several social clubs in the City, including the Century Association and the Union Club. Apart from devotion to family, his interests and enthusiasms included opera, travel, tennis, golf, skiing and fly-fishing.

Contributions in Henry’s memory may be sent to Columbia University, Yale Law School, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and St. James Church. A memorial service will be held on June 27, 2018 at 3:00 pm at St. James Church, Madison Avenue at E. 71st Street in Manhattan.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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