H.C. King, "Coach" and "Prof" to generations of Lawton students, blended athletic and academic abilities with an interest in young people to forge relationships that led into productive adulthood.
King, who died in 1983 after a heart attack at age 78, is recorded in local and state sports books for his athletic prowess and coaching abilities but also won admiration for his work with and on behalf of youth, years after he left the classroom and walked off the field.
Albert Johnson Sr., who was coached by King while a youth at Douglass School, remembers a man who was attuned to the young.
"He was very sensitive to students, to their well-being," Johnson said, adding King also expected students to do their part by working hard and being good citizens. "He had a lot of influence on me."
Johnson said while King believed in hard work and valued academics, he also realized athletics was the way out of poverty or into college for many young African-Americans.
"Mr. King helped so many of us. We all got college educations because we played ball for him," Johnson said, of himself and his brothers.
Joey Goodman, longtime sports editor for The Lawton Constitution, remembers meeting King by accident while he was attending his first basketball game as a cub reporter.
Goodman, who was there to observe, was on the front row watching the game when an elderly man, walking with a cane, sat down beside him. King introduced himself and the two men talked for an hour about a wide range of topics. Goodman said King's vast knowledge which went far beyond sports was impressive. What was more impressive: the number of young people who came up to King to say hello and shake his hand.
"The kids all knew him and respected him," Goodman said, adding King had an interest in all people. "I was just a cub reporter, but he wanted to know me."