Parker County Today October 2016 - Page 31

First stop for King was Dallas where he moved his family — he’d married Joyce Jech at Oklahoma A&M — and planned to work as assistant district attorney, once he passed the bar exam, of course. But once on the ground in Big D he accepted a different offer, a junior partner position with an Arlington law firm. He soon developed doubts about that firm and resigned to take an assistant city attorney position with the City of Fort Worth. “While my position as an assistant city attorney was probably the lowest professionally ranked position for attorneys, since it was prosecuting minor offenses such as traffic tickets, I really enjoyed that job,” said King. “I got to meet and make friends with many Fort Worth police officers, other attorneys and some important people that just happened to get traffic citations, some of which were Fort Worth City Council members, some were bank presidents and some were Tarrant County Judges or members of their families. The presiding judges of the two municipal courts became very good friends. The oldest of those judges employed me to represent him and his family on various matters and when he died, his family selected me to officiate his funeral service. Soon I was promoted to the position of chief prosecutor over the two traffic courts. …” Some 10 months later he hung out his own shingle, sharing offices with a colleague who’d also worked in the Fort Worth City Attorney’s office. “Due to my having made friends with many Fort Worth police officers while prosecuting traffic tickets they issued, I was retained for legal assistance by many clients that were referred to me by those police officers,” King said. “My net income quickly went up from about $750 per month to about $1,500 per month during the first year after leaving employment with the City of Fort Worth and then to about $4,000 per month the next year. For a new lawyer in the early 1960s, that was a lot of money.” And wit h a growing client list, Texas seemed more and more like the land of opportunity. Watch for Earl King, Part 2 next month PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY He’d graduated college in January 1955 and resigned his unplanned USAF commission April 1958. This course correction put him back on track for law school, something he’d dreamed of as an 8-year-old boy silted in the dust of poverty. He wanted to serve in the reserves while he studied law but logistics were a problem. “I commenced the process of applying for a reserve commission on two different occasions,” King said, “but each time as I was applying a national security crisis erupted causing a recall of reservists. I knew that having to temporarily leave a law practice wouldn’t be good for business, so I decided to cease applying to join the Air Force Reserves.” In June, King entered the University of Texas Law School; Oklahoma University School of Law did not begin enrollment until September. He was ready and moved his family to Austin and for the next two years and three months studied to become a lawyer. Though his wife worked and he received the G.I. Bill, money was tight. He began selling insurance on the side and liked it well enough to briefly consider it as a profession. Ever the homegrown entrepreneur, he shrewdly studied the dealings of others and incorporated their “best practices” into his own developing modus operandi. One of his interesting side ventures involved buying upper class members’ class notes, arranging them in good order, having them printed and standing at the entrance to the classroom for the pertinent course ready for sale. “Since I could tell the potential customers the names of the students who prepared the notes (students well-known to be A students), my sales went well,” King said. “I usually made about $500 per set of notes which was very good money back in that time era.” King’s sideline helped with the groceries but not with the dean of the law school. King had little trouble making the dean’s “bad list” when he decided to keep the easy-money notes-selling scheme going, despite the dean’s disdain. Cost of doing business, that sort of thing. The path King took to his dream of becoming an attorney had been anything but direct, but in August 1960 Earl King graduated law school. OCTOBER 2016 terson wrote a letter to U.S. Congressman Toby Morris on his behalf. King received his appointment in January 1951, though, ultimately, he resigned the commission. “While I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a midshipman at the Naval Academy, I did not like the curriculum,” said King, adding it was basically engineering and that he lacked “mechanical aptitude.” With the passing of the G.I. Education Bill, King resigned the commission and set his sights on civilian college and pre-law. He liked Oklahoma A&M College and the friends he made there. To earn an extra $60 a month he signed up for Air Force ROTC. With his background he quickly rose through the ranks and honors, one of which, the Distinguished Military Graduate Honorarium, which entitled him to a regular officer’s commission in the USAF. He had no desire to take up a regular commission in the Air Force; his trajectory lay along the arc of political science studies and a law career. Yet, everything about him on paper screamed, “Gung ho! It’s the military life for me!” This and a cursory signature changed his timeline a bit. “At the time of my Air Force officer commissioning service, the Air Force sergeant told us cadets to sign the blank documents and he would fill them out later,” King remembered. “So I, as it appeared the other graduating cadets did, signed the documents without reading them. I later learned that the sergeant, after reviewing my major in military science and my record of military achievements, thought I was training for a military career and he completed my commissioning documents with an application for me to return to active duty to attend pilot training. About two months later, I was surprised to receive orders for me to report to active duty as an officer in the USAF for pilot training. Unlike my cadet classmates, due to my having previously been in the military service, I was not required to perform additional service. However, since I had signed the documents requesting active duty, I did not have any alternative but to report for pilot duty.” 29