Henry F. King Jr. died peacefully at his home in Windemere Nursing Home on Monday, December 6, at the age of 86.
A sixth generation Islander, he was born on Norton Street in Edgartown into a family of nine children. Life’s circumstances made him independent at an early age and he joined the military service at 17. While in the Army, he served with the 153rd Airborne Glider Battalion as a technician and instructor.
It was in 1945 that he returned to Martha’s Vineyard to begin his colorful career at the then-Colonial Inn Annex which later became the Edgartown Inn.
Henry was well-known for his role as waiter at breakfast. He cut a dapper figure dressed in an array of tuxedo jackets with matching bow ties. Who doesn’t remember him squirting his “famous” mustard or catsup on an unsuspecting breakfast? Or seeing him begin each day at dawn polishing the brass rail? And for 35 years, on the 4th of July, he would literally crank up the Inn’s 1931 Woodie and proudly drive the Edgartown parade route, waving to the cheering crowd.
Henry was an around-the-clock presence at the Edgartown Inn all season long. He was innkeeper, electrician, plumber, maintenance man, cook, entertainer, storyteller, and cribbage player extraordinaire. Henry truly was the heartbeat of the Edgartown Inn for 59 years.
Henry was a rare person indeed. Possessions meant little to him unless they brought joy to someone else. His generosity was boundless and he was a friend to all. His gentle nature was uniquely evident when he would be found in the garden, hand-feeding a catbird. He touched every heart who came in contact with him and created memories for generations.
Henry leaves behind four sisters, many nieces and nephews, countless friends, and his family at Windemere. He was predeceased by two brothers and two sisters. No one will miss him more than his loyal friend and caregiver, Sandi Hakala.
A private graveside service was held in the New Westside Cemetery in Edgartown.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in Henry’s name to a cause that was near and dear to his heart, The Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard. Make checks payable to County of Dukes County, P.O. Box 190, Edgartown, MA 02539 and write Animal Shelter in the memo.