Community Leader Sarah King Dies At Age 91

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Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg greets Mrs. Sarah King last October at a dedication ceremony at the Old City Cemetery. "Bubba" Woodfin drove her to the event in his 1930 Packard. This was 3-weeks prior to her 91st birthday.

Local historian, community and patriotic leader Sarah Elizabeth McKelley King passed away Wednesday (2/20/2013) at age 91. She was a Murfreesboro native, and a seventh generation resident of Rutherford County.

Sarah King Preserved History

She made the address to the City Council to save Oaklands Mansion as an Historic Site, and also made the address to the County Court in 1959, which was responsible for saving the Rutherford County Courthouse from demolition.


Last fall, she was thrilled to attend one of Murfreesboro's Bicentennial Events with the rededication of the monument at the Old City Cemetery on Vine Street.

Last Big Public Dedication


On October 18, 2012, she joined citizens and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (above photo) at the Old City Cemetery on Vine Street for a special ceremony involving the renovation of a monument which the Colonel Hardy Murfree Chapter dedicated almost 80-years ago. 

The monument denoting Murfreesboro's first church, First Presbyterian, was originally dedicated on October 19, 1933, just one-day off of the rededication date. It was placed on the exact location where the church stood prior to the Civil War. 

Mrs. King was particularly proud to attend this event, not only because she was only 3-weeks from celebrating her 91st birthday, but because her friend, "Bubba" Woodfin, drove her there in his classic 1930 Packard. Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg greeted her at the sidewalk. 


Mrs. King was a candidate for the U.S. Congress in 1976, receiving the endorsement of the Daily News Journal. She was appointed as an Advisor to Congressman Albert Gore, Jr. He, in turn, served as one of her Advisors from 1983-1986 during her three year term as President General of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, an organization of over 212,000 women.

She devoted much time to patriotic and cultural organizations. A dynamic speaker, Mrs. King awakened a renewed interest by the general public in the activities of the DAR.

She believed in peace through strength and a strong defense for the preservation of our American way of life. Her speeches carried this message as she travelled across the world on official visits. Recognized in 1978 as Rutherford County's Outstanding Citizen, Mrs. King served as Advisor to the Tennessee Commission of the Status of Women. In addition, she served on the State Library Commission by appointment of the Governor and on the Rutherford County Courthouse Commission.

Mrs. King was a member of the New York Society Daughters of the Cincinnati, the United States Daughters of 1812, the DFPA Huguenot Society of Tennessee, and organizing Regent of the Oaklands Association.

Regent of the Sam Davis Memorial Association for 8 years and member of the Board for more than 30 years. She was Regional Vice-President of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities, as well as a member of the Rutherford County Historical Commission Chapter VII of the Colonial Dames of America, Vice-Regent of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists, and organizing Regent of the Captain Thomas Jameson Chapter. A member of many other patriotic organizations, she was a Life Member of the Ladies Hermitage Association, First Methodist Church.

Life Line

She was the daughter of the late James Dudley McKelley and Lutie Jameson Osborn. After graduating from East High School in Nashville, she continued her studies at Vanderbilt University. She held an honorary Doctorate degree from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, TN.

On May 10, 1941, Mrs. King married Walter Hughey King. They lived near Camp Pendleton, CA while the late Mr. King served in the Marine Corps during World War II, with the 3rd Marine Division during the invasion of Iwo Jima and the occupation of Guam.


Funeral service will be 11:00am Saturday at First Methodist Church. Father John Sims Baker and Rev. Michael O’Bannon will officiate. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery.

She is predeceased by her husband, parents, sister, Martha McKelley Meeks and brother, James Dudley McKelley, Jr.

She is survived by Children Walter Hughey King, Jr., M.D. Carmine King Jordan (Charlie), Newton Dudley King (Cynthia) Sallie King Norton (William) Grandchildren: Walter Hughey King III, Cannon King (Catherine), Mollie King, Collier King, Hamilton King, John Jordan (Sanna), Andrew Jordan, Susan Jordan Russell (Blake), Christopher King, William L. Norton IV(Heather), Jameson Norton (Anna), Sarah Norton Ross (Adam), Great Grandchildren: Caroline King, Cannon King, Wilson King, Andrew Jordan, Amelia Jordan, Bennett Jordan, Sarah Virginia Jordan, William L. Norton V, Charles Norton, MacAllister Russell, Tinnon Russell, Hamilton King, Jr., and Jameson Norton.

Memorials to The Exceptional Foundation, 1616 Oxmoor Road, Birmingham, AL 35209, NSDAR Tennessee Room, 1776 D. Street NW, Washington, DC 20006 or a charity of your choice.

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