Wince Vanderbilt King, Jr. was born in Crockett, Texas on May 18, 1919. He was the youngest of two children born to Hallie Dell and Wince King, Sr. His parents moved their family to Los Angeles, California in 1923, in pursuit of better opportunities. Both parents and sister, Hallie, preceded him in death.
Wince attended 49th Street Elementary School, McKinley Junior High School, and Thomas Jefferson High School. He earned a basketball scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans and his team won two All Conference Championships during his collegiate career. While at Xavier, he converted to Catholicism, which became the foundation for his life and grounded him spiritually. He was a devout Catholic, attending church every Sunday and Holy Day. After college, he returned home to marry the love of his life, Marguerite, in 1941. His marriage became a foundational driving force and significant motivating factor in his life and produced a daughter, Lora, and a son, Gregory.
In 1942, Wince was drafted into the United States Army and spent 15 months serving in India. Despite experiencing overt discrimination by Americans with whom he was serving, he displayed his athleticism once again, setting a record for the India High Jump. Little did he know, the racism he experienced abroad was only the beginning.
Wince joined the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) in 1947. At that time, the department was segregated, with only two African American fire stations in the city. In 1956, under pressure from political and social organizations, and with the agreement of the black firefighters, the Department caved in and began integrating fire stations. Wince was one of the original group of black firefighters chosen to integrate a few all white fire stations, and was met with physical isolation, exclusion from activities, and at times, was completely ignored. Once the integrations process was completed, Wince endured and served valiantly until his retirement from LAFD in 1972.
After retirement, he began working full time as a skycap for American Airlines, a part time job he held while working for LAFD. He continued to check and lift heavy bags until his 70th birthday, when he decided to retire for good. His post-retirement life was an active one, exercising in his home gym, traveling internationally, watching Laker games, and playing cards and backgammon. He was an avid reader, enjoying both hard copies and on the internet. He stayed involved with the Royal Syndicators, the social club he founded with friends in their youth, and continued to host the annual “A-shift” Firefighter’s Christmas party in his home, a tradition that continues to this day. He and Marguerite continued to attend church faithfully and enjoyed each other’s company until her death in 2000. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, a form of Dementia, in 2004 and his (and that of his family and caregivers) struggles and challenges were captured in the recently published book “Stolen”, written by his daughter, Lora. He passed away at home, peacefully in his sleep, on July 18, 2013.
Wince’s strength and determination paved the way for many others to follow in his footsteps, including his own family members. Son, Gregory, also joined the LAFD, reaching the rank of Captain. His granddaughter, Erin, also attended Xavier University, entering in 1992, the year Wince’s class celebrated their 50 year reunion. Finally, Gregory and his son, Evan, were both skycaps at LAX for many years.
Preceded in death by his loving wife, Marguerite, Wince leaves to mourn a daughter, Lora; son, Gregory (Bara); two grandchildren, Erin and Evan; three great grandchildren, Kyle, Dylan, and Karlyn; a nephew, Edward; a niece, Delores; and a host of family and frien
July 30, 2013 • 12:30pm
Reverend Paul Spellman, Celebrant Reverend Allan Roberts, Co-Celebrant Deacon Emile Adams, Assistant