He was, according to Oregon Tech men’s basketball coach Justin Parnell, “Mr. Brightside.”
Almost everyone agrees.
Bert King, who died Jan. 22 in St. George, Utah, was universally called a good guy with a friendly smile, always with a positive word, and willing to do almost anything for almost everyone.
“Without a doubt, Bert was the most positive person you’d ever be around,” Parnell said of the longtime scoreboard operator for OIT basketball games at Danny Miles Court.
“Talk about an Oregon Tech guy” broadcaster Bobby Thompson said. “Bert King truly was an Oregon Tech guy. He was probably the greatest Tech fan I ever saw. He was humble. Never derogatory.”
King’s death left ripples of shock across the Oregon Tech campus as word slowly swept its way throughout the OIT community.
“Bert was as nice a man as the day is long,” Dean of Students Erin Foley said.
“Every player for 30 years will remember him for his fist bumps before games,” Parnell, a former OIT player as well as current coach, said. “Without a doubt, the most positive person you’ll ever be around.
“After every conversation with Bert, you always felt better,” Parnell said.
“It’s really sad,” former basketball coach Danny Miles said, who noted he had spent time last summer with King and his wife, Sam, at their Utah home, where they had moved to be closer to their grandchildren.
“They had a new pool built. They were happy. They were just getting started to enjoy their retirement,” Miles said.
“You could never talk about Bert without talking about Sam,” longtime assistant basketball coach Mike Pisan said. “I remember him well when he would be sitting in the end zone (seats at the national tournament) in Branson.”
King spent 41 years handling the clock for OIT basketball games, and his wife spent the last 24 years by his side helping with the shot clock. He helped with scoreboard duties in Branson at least twice. Thompson added, “He would do anything to help out, regardless of sport, or gender. He was ready. He was always encouraging our student-athletes, in all sports.”
“There were times he would be so wrapped up in the game that he forgot to put points on the board,” Miles said with a chuckle. “He was just engrossed in the game. He was very fair and honest.”
Pisan noted, “He was so supportive. He did the little things that most people didn’t want to do. He had a lot of energy. He was just there and had a smile on his face when he did it.”
“Bert King was such a special person,” former Tech athletic director Mike Schell posted on Facebook. “He was an unwavering light that shown bright in the world. I am so fortunate to have been able to know him and can truly say I am a better person because of him.”
The accolades for the 73-year-old King became legend. Parnell said more than 200 players posted reactions on the team’s Instagram account.
“He was one of the special Tech people,” Austen Flint said.
“He was one of the nicest people I had the privilege of knowing,” Jevon Struve said. “He was always upbeat before each game and always told me: ‘I was going to have a great game.’ He will be greatly missed.”
“He was a bloody legend of a bloke,” Greg Regan, one of the many Australian players at OIT, said.
Regan’s shot from well behind the mid-court line at the College of Idaho in the mid-90s allowed Tech to pull off a stunning victory to win a conference title and silence a capacity, raucous crown in Caldwell.
King traveled to as many games as he could.
He was rarely shaken.
Foley remembered one time, however, when King was beside himself.
“As he worked volleyball and basketball games year after year, he was always friendly and willing to chat,” Foley recalled. “In all the games over the year, I only heard him get a little edgy once, when he was trying to play a song during a basketball timeout, but the student pep band was trying to play at the same time. I think he thought the student band was bad and his music was better, even if his playlist was way out-of-date. Bert would do anything for anybody at any time. He was just a fabulous soul,” Foley said.
Bert T. King Jr. was born Nov. 13, 1947, in Algona, Iowa, and the family moved to San Francisco when in 1953. He aspired to play professional baseball and would sneak into Giants games when he could.
A painting apprentice under his father, King married Dorothy (Dottie) McCollian in 1969, and they had a son, Bert T. King III. The marriage ended in 1984.
Before coming to Oregon Tech, he worked at San Jose State and San Francisco State universities.
He met Sandra (Sam) Williams Cooke at an intramural signup, and they married July 16, 1994. Her two daughters Taisha and Tabatha made it a family of five. Their three children gave Bert and Sam seven grandchildren.
Services for King were held Jan. 29 in St. George, with burial Jan. 30 in Malad, Idaho.