David Shepherd King (1927-2023)

The Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee mourns the death of our long-time and beloved member, David King. A leading advocate for justice on behalf of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community, David brought a unique kind of compassionate authority to his work for progressive causes and candidates. Warmth and an abiding sense of humor were his trademarks.

According to his obituary, David “attended the Andover Newton Theological School and was ordained in 1954 at the First Congregational Church in Amherst, MA. In 1958, he earned a Master of Sacred Theology degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York. Throughout the 1950s, David was active in the World Council of Churches and the World Student Christian Federation. He served as Assistant Chaplain of Amherst College from 1954-58 and Chaplain until 1961. He founded the Laymen’s Academy for Oecumenical Studies (LAOS), promoting religious faith in daily life. David played an active role in the civil rights movement and was jailed during a desegregation protest in 1963.”

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In 2022, David sat down with Ben Siegel for a remembrance of his life in service:

“I came to Boston to attend Boston University and study journalism. Then I decided to take ROTC, partly to avoid the smell of the sciences… Without bothering to talk it over with my family, I enlisted and dropped out of college. I went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then was part of the Japanese occupation, as was Stanton Putnam, who became my husband. When I came back from Japan in the winter of 1948, I learned about the congregational student group church in Boston. The next thing I knew, I was president.

I got into national politics, being a Christian who was trying to rally voters [for peace and justice]. In 1963, I went with a group of ministers from Massachusetts down to North Carolina to live within the black community there to try to get some visibility around the equal benefits of citizenship… I went to Selma and in 1964, I went to the Democratic National Convention as part of the National Council of Churches team to try to help the group in Mississippi get a broader delegation.

In 1981, we moved to Boston and bought a house in the South End. I started work at the second oldest social services agency in America, the City Mission Society.

People gravitated into the Ward 4 Committee for a number of reasons. We welcome everyone with open arms. I remember the night that Michelle Wu first walked in with her husband. [Since then], we have become a magnet for people…and our endorsements matter.”

When asked about his impetus for running for the Hartford School Committee in the 1970s, David replied, “Maybe God sent me to file those papers.”

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Memorial services for David will take place at Old South Church on September 9th at 11am.

Read David’s obituary in full.

Photo: Graeme Mills

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