King leaves behind legacy of love, inspiration

During his short time in Carroll County, Gaylon “Gator” Franklin King, Jr. a lasting legacy of love and kindness behind and the ability to inspire and motivate others. King influenced many people in Carroll County through his work with the Carroll County Public School System, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, and in the community through the church and gym.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of influencer is someone who exercises influence; a person who inspires or directs the actions of others.

A quick Google search for the best influencers will bring up a lot of household names – celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez and Taylor Swift – people who follow hundreds of millions of people and end up for a variety of reasons.

But then there are the real influencers – they are based on real reality. The one we know personally. The one who has inspired countless people for their actions, and the one who never asks or expects anything in return. To a large number of people in Carroll County, that person was Gaylon “Gator” Franklin King, Jr.

It didn’t seem to matter what your age, background or situation was, King had an innate and uncanny ability to interact with people. A retired State Trooper in South Carolina for over 30 years, King moved with his family from Palmetto State to Carroll County in 2003. He soon began touching lives in the Carroll County Public School System as an associate of Family Preservation – a group aimed at high-risk students.

The then-Sheriff of Carroll County JB Gardner was so impressed with King’s ability to deal with the youth and his law enforcement background that he hired King in 2007 as a School Resource Officer where he would go on to work with and many young people. inspire in Carroll County Elementary School. schools.

The opening of Out of The Box Worship Center in Hillsville would introduce many more Carroll Countians to King’s infectious personality as he opened the door to greet countless thousands on their way to church. His frequent bouts of cancer and never-ending attitude inspired many others at the Carroll Wellness Center. King died on May 1 at the age of 69, but the legacy he quickly built in Carroll County will never die.

‘He is a rare individual. I don’t know anyone else in Carroll County who has touched more people than him, ”said Ronnie Collins, who met King through the First United Methodist Church and later at Out of the Box. “He was considered an outsider when he came here, and that is rare and affects so many people. And he’s everywhere he’s been. “

Carroll County Sheriff Kevin Kemp went from a fellow SRO within the school system with King to his employer following his election as sheriff in 2020. During that time, he witnessed the myriad acts of kindness King did to the students he worked with, and how much he has inspired so many people.

Gator King loved the South Carolina Patrol. He liked law enforcement as a whole. He loved the Clemson Tigers, he loved his children, and he loved the students and children of Carroll County Public Schools. That’s Gator King in a nutshell, ”said Kemp. “They are no more authentic or finer than Gator King.”

As School Resource Officers, Kemp served at Carroll County High School alongside King when he was SRO in St. Paul. He was also privileged to hand King his retirement plaque from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office in July 2020.

“Just the memories I have of those positions with him, from a colleague to his supervisor at the schools, to his employer, there are so many wonderful memories of Gator King than I will always have. , ”Said Kemp. “He was only with us for a short time, but the impact, for a person to get into a community and be involved with our schools and local law enforcement and be involved with the community as he was, from church to church. school system, the impact he left behind will last forever. Although it has been a short years that he has worked with our students, Gator left an impression on the children that will be borne for a lifetime. “

With a smile as big as his personality, King opened the doors to just about everyone who came to Out of the Box in Hillsville for 10 years. He literally never met a stranger and would talk and encourage with almost every person he ever met.

“When we went to downtown Hillsville, he said,“ Ronnie, I’ll be on committees. I’ll do anything you want, but what I’d rather do is stand here and greet people and hug people and love people and be your bodyguard. And that’s what he did, ”Collins said. “His family was one of the first to join us when we opened (Out of the Box). He loved people, especially children. The children were drawn to him. That’s where his tremendous effect came from, but I think it was his law enforcement education as well. I think that was a big part. He was just dedicated and not a quitter. “

And that was another reason why Gator inspired so many people. He first discovered he had a deadly Merkle Cell cancer 14 years ago. After doctors removed a lump from his arm, he continued to develop multiple cancers, a benign brain tumor and the definitive diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2017. All of this continued to inspire King. Even when he couldn’t be in the gym, he posted videos and sent them as encouragement to CWC members and staff. That was just like Gator King was.

Jake Nunn, now a pastor in the United Methodist Church and a former CrossFit trainer locally, attributes much of his physical and spiritual success to King’s daily encouragement and motivation, so much so that he developed a workout in honor of King.

“That was kind of the reason why I felt led to make that workout. I personally know how much he touched my life, and given the ways he touched all the people around him, he deserves a great tribute, and his memory will last a long time, ”said Nunn. “The very first day I ever got up and did CrossFit was that morning at the Carroll Wellness Center. Every day I did that Gator was there. After finishing the workout, sweaty and hurt, he would be there with the biggest smile and motivational attitude. Even when I went to church when I became a pastor, he was a kind face along the way, conveying his wisdom. All the encouragement he gave me in my life, he was always there to motivate me and keep me going. “

Nunn said CrossFit has a tradition of creating workouts in honor of deceased heroes. He said the next training was his attempt to “immortalize a man greater than life.”

– 5 rounds, one round for each of the kids who brightened up his life.

69 double unders, one for each year of his life, associated with a movement that shows how fast life goes by and how fast he wanted to drive when he joined the South Carolina Police Department

– 31 pistols, for each year of service to the South Carolina Police Department to remember how willing and willing he was to stand up and defend what was dear to him.

– 9 people-makers, over the years he has spent serving Carroll’s school systems to protect and inspire young students. And when life intoxicated him, he always found the strength to get up and also lift those around him.

– 1 deadlift for the strength of the unique man he was. His refusal to speak is too difficult. And the tremendous example he has set for so many 365 days a year, myself included.

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