We at Access Innovations are sad to share that Dr. Don King passed away on Sunday, November 17, 2019. Those of us who are long time information industry professionals and those who have read the information literature in depth especially when statistics on the profession are so hard to obtain, will greatly miss his continued probing of the edges and the numbers for us all.
Donald Ward King, age 87, passed away peacefully in his sleep, Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Madison, South Dakota, with family at his side, a few weeks after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Don was born during the Great Depression on July 18, 1932, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, one of five sons born to James Arnold King and Mary Elizabeth (Ward) King. The family was part of the enterprising, hard-working F.S. King Ranch sheep-breeding operation in Laramie and Albany counties, Wyoming. The ranch was internationally famous for its high-quality sheep breeding stock. Their animals were shipped to ranches across the globe, forming the foundation of many of the finest sheep herds around the world.
After his military service, Don returned to the University of Wyoming, completing his B.S. in 1959 and his M.S. in 1960, both in statistics. Following his academic work, he was tapped by one of his professors, Ed Bryant, along with another master’s student, Jim Daley, to co-found Western Statistics, Inc., eventually known as Westat, Inc. Westat became and is still today one of the world’s leading private-sector statistical survey research organizations. Today the corporation is a half-billion-dollar operation with over 2,000 employees in 9 regional U.S. offices and 6 countries overseas, with three additional subsidiary companies.
In 2016, The University of Wyoming bestowed on Don an honorary doctoral degree, noting his contributions as a world-renowned statistician and information science pioneer. As they stated, “Through his career he has led ground-breaking research studies with results that have transformed both the quantitative measures, models, and evaluation methods used in information science and informatics as well as the practices of the organizations that benefited from the results of those studies. Long before “big data” was even a theoretical concept, King was leading international, national, state, and local studies on the economic analysis of information systems for government organizations, as well as for business and industry. He is recognized for having established the definitions and parameters of return-on-investment and economies-of-scale potentials of resources, costs, and materials flows for scientific as well as public and corporate information systems. This included pioneering work in the pricing of information systems and the costs and benefits of U.S. copyright and intellectual property law.”
A memorial service celebrating Don’s life and contributions will be held at the Dakota Prairie Playhouse on Dakota State University’s campus on Tuesday December 10th at 1:30 p.m. An opportunity to visit with Don’s friends and family to pay respects will be held immediately after the service, also in the Playhouse.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to student scholarships. These can be made in Don’s name to the DSU Foundation, 820 N. Washington Ave., Madison SD 57042 or at DSU.edu/give. Memories and tributes to Don can be posted at www.ellsworthfh.com, where the complete obituary can also be read, or at donald-w-king.forevermissed.com.