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Garland Joyce King

Garland Joyce King was born Feb. 5, 1937 and passed away July 21.

He is preceded in death by his loving wife of 48 years Ruth Templeton King, parents F.Z. and Clatie Neal King of Unionville, and sister-in-law Ruth (Ernest) King.

He is survived by: son Gary King and Daughter Glenda (Rob) McGill of Shelbyville; brothers, F.Z. (Connie) King of Shelbyville, Ernest King; sister, Nancy King Smotherman of Murfreesboro and Jean (Ellis) Sudberry of Shelbyville; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

King was born and raised in Unionville. As an adult he remained in Bedford Co. where he lived his entire life.

The long time Shelbyville fire chief started his career with the city’s fire department in 1959 under Chief Buck Foster. Rather quickly, 10 years later in 1969, King was appointed as fire chief by city manager Wayne Cartwright. While serving this community as fire chief, he also served the state on the TN Human Rights Commission and State Zoning Board of Appeals. He held the highest offices in fire services in the state as president of the TN Fireman’s Association and the TN Fire’s Chief Association, an organization he helped founded. King is known to many as the main reason the TN Fire School Codes Enforcement Academy is located in Bedford County. Service efforts like these exemplify why King is so highly revered across the entire state. The State of TN House Joint Resolution 121 is a resolution that named the Administration Building at the Fire Codes Academy in King’s honor. The General Assembly passed this resolution to permanently commemorate King’s accomplishments as a sterling public servant who served his respective community with the greatest acumen, integrity and dedication. King’s consummate professionalism is noted in the resolution. To educate the public about the need for the Academy, King traveled more than 5300 miles across the state with a 1944 fire truck. Each and every stop on the tour afforded people from all walks of life, including local government officials, legislators, and even the Governor, the opportunity to sign the truck as a demonstration of their support for the much needed facility. The truck was parked more than once in downtown Nashville so legislators had to walk by it to see the level of support from all 95 counties.

Community service was a large part of King’s years of service. He conceived the idea of an official city bus to carry dignitaries to different events around the state. He also worked diligently with his fellow firemen to provide bicycles and other toys to needy children at Christmas. King was instrumental in starting the Celebration City Car Club.

In addition to being known as fire chief, King is known to many as a collector of all things related to Bedford County. His extensive collection includes things he remembers from his childhood. The extensive collection includes classic cars, metal toys, signs, photographs, receipts, pencils and hundreds of other items, making it perhaps the most complete collection of Bedford County history in existence. It spans several lifetimes, compiling stories and memorabilia of people and businesses long since passed.  No matter how common or unique, King always knew each item had its part in Bedford County history. 

Visitation for Chief King will be held Wednesday July 24 from 4 until 9 p.m. at Doak-Howell Funeral Home. The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday in the chapel of Doak-Howell Funeral Home with Bro. Wallace Rowland officiating. Burial will follow in Willow Mount Cemetery. 

Memorials may be made to the Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial 3686 Richbriar Court Nashville, TN 37211-4918 or the Shelbyville Boys & Girls Club 1055 Madison St. Shelbyville, TN 37160.

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