One of the city's greatest cultural benefactors and advocates has died. Alfred King, of the King Ranch Kings, passed away Saturday, March 25, from a lung infection. He was 89. He and his wife, Ellen, settled in Austin 46 years ago, moving here from McAllen after selling his part of the ranching empire launched by great-grandfather Richard King in the 1850s. In a sense, he was leaving old Texas for new Texas. As chair of MRI Systems Corporation, one of Austin's first software companies, in the late Sixties, he helped lay the groundwork for Austin as a capital of high tech. But he had a still greater impact on the city through his leadership in its arts scene: founding chairman, Austin Lyric Opera board; chair, UT's Fine Arts Advisory Council; trustee emeritus, Austin Museum of Art (reflecting his involvement since its days as Laguna Gloria Art Museum); work with organizations from the Paramount Theatre to the Austin Symphony; and, of course, with his wife, magnanimous support for cultural organizations all over town, as with the Alfred & Ellen King Endowment in Printmaking at UT. His efforts did not go unnoticed: He was named Outstanding Philanthropist by the Austin chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives; named Most Worthy Citizen of 2000 by the Austin Board of Realtors; presented with the Allan Shivers Jr. lifetime achievement award from the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the William E. Doty Award for service to the arts and education of UT students from the College of Fine Arts; and he and Ellen together were inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame. Not for nothing was he nicknamed "Mr. Arts." His contributions have changed all our lives for the better, and he will be greatly missed. He is survived by Ellen King and their three children. A memorial service will be held Saturday, April 8, 1pm, at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 3201 Windsor.
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