King was community hero, and mine

By Ellen Gerstein
Gwinnett Daily Post, November 4, 2012

Editor's Note: The following was read at the Gwinnett Great Days of Service VIP luncheon in conjunction with the presentation of the first Barbara King Community Hero Award. King was posthumously presented with the award, which was accepted by her daughter, Kelly Herndon.

Barbara King was my hero. She was also my mentor, colleague and friend. For those of you who did not have the pleasure of knowing Barbara, a few words to describe her legacy seem so inadequate.

She was a great example of a true Southern belle. She treated everyone she met with the charm, grace and respect that the title signifies. She had impeccable taste and style.

She was one of the smartest people I have ever known and best businesswoman. She would often rattle off financial figures to me that went way over my head. I would try to follow along and listen intently hoping that I would pick up some of her knowledge. She loved business, a champion of economic and community development. I often times wished I could clone Primerica and Barbara, because of the generous support they exemplified for our community.

She was a devoted community servant. She took a leadership role on our Board of Directors and not only put her time and talents into our cause of improving Gwinnett, but also helped us gain financial and volunteer support from her corporation. Although she never sought recognition, we were able to honor her with our coveted Corporate Involvement Award several years ago. She also knew that we needed ongoing involvement and support from her corporation, recruiting her successor, Karen Fine, to step into her board seat and continue her legacy of giving back to this community. She was very involved in other worthy causes and she helped make all the charities she touched better and more successful. I often sat with her and her husband, Al, at charity functions and saw firsthand her passion for helping all types of people and organizations.

She was a role model in the way she mentored women at Primerica and in the community. There are so many women who have Barbara King to thank for a successful career and future.

She championed education and was recognized for her leadership in the educational field with an appointment to the State School Board. It is often said that if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person. This certainly described Barbara King. She was involved in so many endeavors.

She was a great friend. Many times I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of spending time with Barbara at friend's homes, Rotary meetings and conventions, luncheons and other social settings. She had many friends and made each of us feel very special. I know we will all miss her so much and cherish our memories of the time we had together.

But most important to Barbara was her family. She would glow when she talked about the love of her life, her husband Al King. She could not have been more proud of her son and daughter and her very precious grandchildren. If you have ever seen the sparkle of a grandmother's eyes when they talk about each grandchild, you know the special love that Barbara had for these children. As each of her grandchildren spoke at her celebration of life service, I remembered her many stories of their lives and proud moments that she shared with me so many times.

Barbara King leaves a legacy of leadership, service, friendship and family that continues to give back to our Gwinnett community.

Her impact will be felt far into our future.

Ellen Gerstein is executive director of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services.