Prof. Frank H. H. King

December 22, 2012 • Obituaries


Frank Henry Haviland King, 86, died in Roswell following a short illness on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012.

Frank, who was a New Mexico Military Institute alumnus, returned to Roswell in 1989 as visiting professor at the Institute.

He held degrees from Stanford University and the University of Oxford, where he was a member of Exeter College, and an honorary fellow at Merton College. Frank’s area of scholarly expertise was the economic and monetary [auth] history of Southeast Asia, especially China.

During Frank’s professional career he worked for the World Bank, taught economics at the University of Kansas, and served as the founding director of the Centre of Asian Studies at the University of Hong Kong.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Frank was born in Orpington, England, on Jan. 11, 1926, the son of Frank H. and Mabel “Olga” (Opie) King. He spent his first 12 years in England before moving with his parents to Dallas, where his father was a bureau chief for The Associated Press. He attended New Mexico Military Institute, where he became editor of the school paper, the “Pup Tent,” and later served in the Army as a press and liaison officer in China.

Frank was an accomplished and persistent world traveler. He turned down an early career opportunity in Roswell as a travel agent, preferring to travel himself and then to help his family to follow in his footsteps. As a young man, he crossed the Sahara in a jeep and hiked across the Pyrenees. In England, he was an inveterate walker who hiked the traditional rights-of-way that crisscross the landscape. In his later years, he traveled frequently to England and Hong Kong to revisit former haunts and see friends and colleagues.

Frank’s academic life was centered in the University of Oxford from which he held B.A, M.A., D.Phil., and Doctor of Letters degrees, and the University of Hong Kong. He and his family frequently spent time in Oxford, and they were based for 20 years in Hong Kong. As director of the Centre of Asian Studies, Frank guided and contributed to a variety of multi-disciplinary projects on Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. His own magnum opus was a four-volume, commissioned history of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (now a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc.). In May 2012, Frank was invited to become a Distinguished Institute Fellow in the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, in recognition of his contributions to the University of Hong Kong.

In addition to his academic work, Frank was a passionate devotee of the theater, classical music and opera. His trips to England always included many nights watching plays and attending concerts. He was particularly enthusiastic about Shakespeare. Not only did he love the plays for their insights into human nature, but he was also fascinated by the history of the performance of these plays and the different ways they could be interpreted and staged.

Frank suffered through most of his life from ankylosing spondylitis, a severe arthritic condition of the spine. This never slowed him down, but may have contributed to the pneumonia and heart conditions that emerged in his final weeks.

Frank was predeceased by his beloved wife Catherine, and his youngest son Peter.

He is survived by two sons, Roger, who teaches philosophy at the University of Maine, and David, a translator and writer who lives with multiple sclerosis in Oxford, Miss.; three daughters-in-law, Laurie Hicks, of Maine, Chiarella Esposito, of Oxford, and Levke King, of Brussels; and four grandchildren, Vincent and Esther, of Brussels, and Angela and Tony, of Oxford.

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