Hundreds gathered to honor retired Carson Tahoe Hospital surgeon Dr. William King Sunday at the Presbyterian Family Life Center at Division and Musser streets.
One at a time, they stepped up to the microphone to thank him and tell stories about his 45 years of practicing medicine in Carson. The white-haired doctor sat in the front row with his wife of 58 years, Christine.
"No man, woman, child or horse in this city went without medical care if Dr. King knew of the need," said Mayor Ray Masayko. He proclaimed April 21 Dr. William R. King Day in Carson City.
A taped recording by Dr. King's son, Douglas -- working his 18th year as a pediatric cardiologist in Portland, Ore. -- evoked several giggles from the crowd. He recalled being so impressed with his father as a boy that he signed his fourth-grade papers "Dr. King."
Douglas King said he knows he can never have the same impact on his community that his father did on Carson, but he honored him for being a positive role model.
Another retired Carson physician, Dr. Richard Petty, remembered welcoming Dr. King to the community in 1957.
"He always considered a patient to be a person -- not just a clinical entity," he said. "In summary, I would classify Bill as a ... model physician who practices medicine in a caring and ethical fashion."
Monte Fast of the Friends in Service Helping store praised King for his volunteer work at FISH's Ross Medical Clinic.
"He's the kind of man who can take a magic wand out of his pocket, wave it over the air, and create a monument."
King later said that working at the clinic for the last nine years has been a real pleasure.
Dr. James Pitts recalled his surprise at King's interviewing his nurses -- rather than his superiors -- when he was hired as a surgeon.
The pastor of the Family Life Center, the Rev. Bruce Kochsmeier, rejoiced at having King as both a physician and a member of his parish.
"Thank you for healing us mentally and spiritually," he said. "Thank you for teaching us vulnerability and graciousness."
Frank and Lorene Page -- Carson residents since 1951 -- thanked King for guiding them through a frightening surgery eight years ago. Maizie Harris Jesse of the Proscenium Players thanked him for his support of the arts and remembered seeing him at the theater in Salzburg, Austria.
Gov. Kenny Guinn's chief of staff, Marybel Batjer, thanked King for treating three generations of her family: herself, her parents Cameron and Lura Batjer and her grandmother Maybel Batjer. She read a letter from Guinn. "You faced ... challenges with grace and wisdom. You are a truly a role model."
Carol Read-Anderson, a nurse practitioner at the FISH clinic who organized the event, saluted King's devotion to health.
"Health is the key that unlocks the way to all other blessings," she said.
Dr. King, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in July, told the crowd,
"This has really been a wonderful day for me. And I hope we will all have a high tea."
His grandson Richard King battled Hurricane Isabel to come out from New York to be master of ceremonies. He steered everyone into the back room for a toast in the honor of his grandfather.