Hailing from small Iaeger, West Virginia, Aubrey King took the influence of Marshall halfway around the world and ended up representing not just our school, but our nation.
His career at Marshall (he graduated in 1963) included extensive work in student government, being an advocate for equal treatment for black students and playing a role in the Bailey’s Cafeteria civil rights incident, a peaceful protest where white students shared their meals with African American students who were not served at that restaurant at that time.
After graduation, he was chosen as a Rotary Fellow. Rotary International sponsored a fellowship program that provided all expenses for a year of graduate study around the world. Aubrey boarded a plane and flew 24 hours on a Pan Am flight to India, where he traveled and monitored classes at the Indian School of International Studies.
From his base in New Delhi, Aubrey took full advantage of the opportunity to explore the country and speak to Rotary groups. After attending a meeting in Moradabad, a city of about 200,000, he spent the night with a local lawyer who spoke some English, and planned to visit the local colleges the next day. He was awakened the next morning by his host, who told him sorrowfully in broken English that his President had been shot. Though shaken by JFK’s assassination, he decided to keep his appointment to visit the local colleges.
Arriving in town, he found that both local Hindi-speaking colleges had cancelled classes that day to honor Kennedy and show their support. As the only American in the whole city, he was asked to address the assembled student body. That’s how a 21-year-old from Iaeger ended up speaking, through a translator, to thousands of Indian college students to thank them for their compassion on behalf of the American people.
“Marshall gave me a sense that I could handle things and get along in the world. I could succeed. I think that was what helped me succeed in India,” said Aubrey.
Aubrey says his greatest gift from Marshall was his wife, Mary Margaret, who graduated from the university in 1965. Her father was Dr. Kenneth K. Loemker, who served on the Marshall faculty for 41 years, including several decades as chairman of the Psychology Department. Aubrey and Mary Margaret traveled to India again in 2004, the 40th anniversay of his initial visit.