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Willis Gary King, 86, passed away on April 28, 2023, from a recurrence of lymphoma-related cancer in the brain. He died at home, surrounded by his wife, Carolyn; his daughters, Elinor King and Mary King (Matthew Cheng) Bradley, and his son, John King. He is also survived by his granddaughter, Grace Kimes, his sister-in-law, Marilyn, and her husband, Henry Small, as well as several dear cousins and their families.
Gary was born to Willis and Frances (Stewart) King on a farm near Gravity, IA, and later moved to a farm near Bedford, where he grew up. An only child, he was especially close to several of his first cousins. Gary graduated from Mount Ayr High School in 1955 and in 1959 from Northwest Missouri State College (now University), Maryville, MO with a B.S. degree in chemistry. In June 1961, he married Carolyn Ihrig at Blockton Christian Church. For over 60 years, they shared life’s joys and the occasional sorrow, raising three children together in various places across the U.S.
A lifelong educator, Gary taught high school science in Bedford for several years before joining a summer program that culminated in an M.S.T. degree from the University of New Hampshire. He later earned a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho. Both degrees were in physical chemistry. In 1976, Gary joined the faculty at Eastern College in St. Davids, PA, where he taught chemistry and computer science. In 1990, he accepted a position at Elmira College in Elmira, NY, teaching chemistry and education courses there. In 1993, Gary embarked on a new career in computer software development in Columbus, OH, where he and Carolyn lived for nearly 20 years. In 2013, he left a much-enjoyed part-time post-retirement job at Staples and persuaded Carolyn to retire, too. They then returned to Iowa, moving to Cedar Rapids to be closer to family.
Gary was an active member in many churches over the years, most recently St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, where he was an enthusiastic participant in the Men’s Bible Study group each Friday. He loved electronics, music, home improvement projects, gardening, the Iowa Hawkeyes, anything sweet, naps, coffee breaks with Carolyn and the many “donut runs” made with his friend and honorary brother of 70 years, Henry. Gary’s infamous sense of humor will be missed by all who knew him.
His family gives their heartfelt thanks to neighbors and friends in the Stony Point Condo Association, the St. Mark’s church family, the emergency room staff, fifth floor nurses and hospice staff of St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids. A special thanks to Dr. Samuel Wood and the nurses at Hall-Perrine Cancer Center for giving us four additional years with our husband, father, “brother,” grandfather and friend.
Visitation was held on Sunday, May 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Teahen Funeral Home, Cedar Rapids. Funeral services were at 11 a.m., Monday, May 8, 2023, by Pastor Bonnie Koeppen at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Cedar Rapids. Friends visited with the family at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the Blockton Christian Church, Blockton, followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. by Pastor Scott Marcum. Graveside services will be held at Rose Hill Cemetery in Blockton.
Memorials may be directed to St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.
Online condolences can be left at

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