I met Memorie about ten years ago when we were both working at the French Broad Food Coop in Asheville. My first encounter with her demonstrated her kind and generous character. I was taking a large soup tureen into the walk in cooler and was holding it in one hand while trying to open the cooler door with the other. Almost predictably, I spilled a large puddle of soup. As I was cursing under my breath, Memorie said in a cheerful voice, "Here, let me clean that up for you." I had never laid eyes on her prior to that moment, but I took an instant liking to her. She had such a cheerful, kind, and calm demeanor that anyone who was around her for any length of time, felt calm and was put in a better mood. The more I got to know her the more I liked her. I recall asking how old she was. At that time she was 50 or 51 and when she told me her age, I was almost in a state of shock as she looked easily 10 years younger. She was so blessed to be an Old Soul amongst us and have such a forever young look and attitude. My biggest regret was not getting in my car and driving to her and Loch's farm to visit. We should all be thankful for the time we had with Memorie.Back to top
Memorie King was not a celebrity but she was the rare person who lived the changes she wanted to see. She gave up working for Glaxo Pharmaceuticals because of concerns about animal cruelty. Despite graduating from NC State with honors she became a massage therapist because she wanted to help people. When that became too difficult physically she moved to Asheville and studied medicinal herbs and devoted the last years of her life to growing plants and educating people about natural healing, good nutrition and the dangers of chemical pesticides. In addition she operated a Community Supported Agriculture organization which grew and distributed healthy chemical free food. Memorie was the rare person who had no enemies. Everybody liked her because of her radiant self-confidence and if they got to know her well enough they loved her. So Memfest was not a celebration of her fame or wealth but of a empathtic life well lived not for gain but for the sake of helping others.
On September 27, the night that the moon was closest to earth, which is highly relevant to Memorie's spiritual beliefs, her friends came together at Beans 'n Berries farm where she lived the last years of her life to celebrate the person she was and all the positive effects she had on everyone she touched. Her friends Molly, Eleanor and Salley of Underhill Rose; Utah (Kerry) Green and the Wright Family Band gave a free concert at her farm in South Bottleneck NC. The concert was free but not a benefit or a charity. The musicians are being paid from her estate. She would have wanted it that way because she believed people should be paid and paid well for the good things they do. Because of the rain it became a house concert.
Though Mem always tried to do the right thing and her greatest pleasure was making others happy she suffered terribly at the end of her life. As all too often happens she received inadequate medical attention and was in fact denied service by Dr. Jason Zuck of Western Carolina Orthopedics. He made it quite clear that he believed her to be a fake and a drug hound when in fact she was suffering from an exploded t-8 vertebra. This negligence which borders on the criminal resulted in a month of unnecessary suffering and six trips to the emergency room before a proper diagnosis was made almost by accident. Ironically, or perhaps presciently, the multiple myeloma that took her life on January 8, 2014 was almost certainly caused by exposure to Sevin (carbyl) a pesticide manufactured by Union Carbide Corp. In 1977-78 when she worked for the NC State Vet school her supervisors believed Union Carbide's claims of "perfect safety" and failed to provide the appropriate gloves and masks. Memorie, like many really good people trusted others sometimes too much and she paid with her life.
We want to remember the great person she was rather than the terrible things that happened to her. So this festival was a musical celebration of her life and works and I hope honored and promulgated her memory as she wished. If everyone lived as she did this would be a better world; no, not just better but close to perfect. So please help me keep her memory alive not for my sake, or even for hers, but most of all for all for the people she touched.Back to top
There are two kinds of people in the world; mycophiles and mycophobes. The first time Memorie King and I spoke at length we discovered that we shared membership in the first category among others. In fact one of our early ventures into the woods together involved the illicit liberation of some oyster mushrooms from the South Mountains state park. A victimless crime if there ever was one and delicious as well.
So it seemed appropriate for me to purchase an oyster mushroom kit from Fungi Perfecti for our first Christmas together. Oyster mushrooms seemed an apt choice. Some couples have their song; we had our fungus. But rather than purchase the common white oyster like we found in the park I ordered the darker variety ordinarily confined to the west coast. A mushroom kit is a sawdust bolus inoculated with spores from a desirable species. Alas, it needs a lot of tender loving care. It must be kept at a moderate temperature and slightly damp for several weeks before the spawn produces mycelium and then fruiting bodies; the edible part of the mushroom.
We were traveling a lot at that point though never very far. Essentially we were living both in my house and Memorie’s rented room on Murdoch Street. I asked our housemates to spritz the bolus (which was in the bathroom which they kept at about the right temperature) but it just didn’t happen. We did get a few ‘shrooms’ but only enough for a taste. One’s relationship with fungi is not so different from that with a lover; both demand attention and care. It occurred to us to carry it back and forth; up and down the mountain; but that just seemed excessive. But if the mushrooms suffered a little, no mind, we were having a great time together.
So by April we had given up on ever getting a proper flush. However I had a pile of rejected firewood; mostly too knotty to split, so without much hope for any success I flung the bolus onto the pile of wood and forgot about it.
We had a wet summer that year, the 2007-2008 drought had finally broken and lo and behold when the cool weather came oysters began to pop out all over that pile of knotty wood! We ate them until we could eat no more and then Mem made duxelles; a delicious long simmered treat replete with the concentrated flavor of the earth. You can put them on or with anything and it becomes a gourmet treat. I kept hoping we would get another flush; but not one more fruiting body ever appeared on that pile of slowly decomposing cellulose.
After that we hunted all over the farm for edibles but found only tiny yellow chanterelles right in the backyard. The Huffman farm, however, is rich in amanitas; which may say something about my toxic family. Once we found a death angel two foot across, extraordinarily beautiful in its Melvillian whiteness and deadly enough to poison a small city.
Three years into our life together I persuaded Mem to purchase the lot from my cousin immediately east of us. This worked out well because Mem got a grant to build her herb barn and this was the place for it. Later hunting for firewood on our 1.4 acre addition I found a tree that I thought a white oak. Mem, a highly educated systematic biologist who was a genius at plant ID (as with so many useful things) informed me that it was in fact a shagbark hickory, a rather uncommon tree hereabouts. A beautiful healthy tree but forked near the ground, so we cut the smaller fork for firewood. (I still have a few pieces set aside as sacred objects). Last fall I took a nostalgic look at the tree, which is near the corner of the farm, though my nearby has pulled up the 1956 markers, apparently on the principal that if you are a scofflaw, any order in the universe is your enemy. Imagine my astonishment to find beautiful exotically colored shrooms growing on the truncated stump. I have been eating them all fall.
Now this half stump is 2 or 300 yards from the old firewood pile. Of course spores fly everywhere but still this is a mystery. And why on just this one tree that Mem and I cut together? To me this smacks of the ineffable. Maybe this doesn’t prove anything, but nevertheless it seems beyond coincidence. A message that life is much more strange than we can even imagine. Who can say with certainty that the dead, or those labeled with that term, “cannot do anything”? not I…Back to top
Dogs were an important part of Mem’s life. She bragged that her grandfather was personally acquainted with Rin-tin-tin and had an autographed photo to prove it. She kept a picture of her favorite, Strider, a female german shepherd, on her nightstand til the end. She told me stories about Strider, most notably in support of early neutering. Strider had broken Mem’s heart by running off with a pack of hounds during her first heat despite the girl’s cries to her virgin bitch to stop. Strider turned her head and looked at Mem as she ran off with such a wanton yet guilty aspect that tears came to my wife’s eyes as she related this. Of course then Strider had to be sterilized post-haste.
Strider died young by poisoning. One terrible aspect is that Mem was almost certainly infertile also though she could never quite bring herself to discuss it with me; she did tell me that she and her farrier boy friend had tried to conceive. Plus there was a folder in the filing cabinet labeled fertility clinic. Why else would one go to a fertility clinic? And even more tellingly the file disappeared during the last months of her life. Of course Mem’s condition was almost certainly the result of scarring due to the extreme dose of Sevin that she received while at the vet school. Finally while I was reading a dog book to her during her last month we read that grapes are poisonous to dogs. Mem’s friend had made a game of tossing frozen grapes to Strider whenever he came over. Mem whispered, “I poisoned my dog”; but she didn’t; it was just ignorance and an accident and she didn’t do it. They were both poisoned; irony doesn’t cover it; tragedy comes closer.
And dogs just loved Memorie. After Jesse Lothian, the renegade Cherokee and dog-leg Don’s foot pad, stabbed Chompsky in the throat; it was Memorie who realized that the wound, which was not bleeding, was really serious and took him to the emergency vet. She then bedded Chomp in the back of her car nursing him assiduously for several weeks until he recovered. He loved her so much. I don’t think he has ever forgiven me for taking her to Duke Hospital and never bringing her back. Mortality? Dogs know approximately as much about that as we know about immortality.Lothian moved out of the trailer from hell (located just across the road) after I shot his pit bull; events not necessarily completely unconnected. Soon we got some new nearbys who had a whole pack. They must have been used to living in town as they instantly set their animals loose. The blue eyed white husky was killed in the road almost immediately. I had a reasonably civil conversation with the young man of the trailer who told me he “loved that dog” but then why did he let it die? He also complained that Chompsky greeted him on his back porch one morning to welcome him to the neighborhood. But apparently they didn’t hit it off.
The problem dog was a feist that started coming over every day to play. Mem named it Pickles, perhaps after the famous fire-cat (now out of print). Unfortunately Pickles really like to chase chickens and after a few attempts at discouraging him we caught the little piss-ant and took him back; about four times. The last time after prying a chicken from his jaws I returned him and told the guy if he kept chasing we would have to take him to the pound and retrieving him would cost him 75 bucks.
Imagine our surprise when a deputy sheriff showed up a little later claiming that “someone” had called about our “out of control dogs”. Like many of his ilk he was a little fat man all worked up into a quasi angry state. It shouldn’t have been a surprise as in Burke County, as in much of America but more so, the line between law enforcement and law breaker is drawn with a stick in the breeze. And of course our near-bys landlord, one Jeff Whisnant, like all serious criminals would have a pet pot bellied pig. As since my beating on the side of the Jersey pike I have had an immediate and visceral reaction to any armed uniformed person who threatens me; it fell to Mem to step up. And step up she did. In a scene almost word for word identical to the one with Alec Guinness and the two droids in Star Wars, Mem informed him, “These are not the dogs you are looking for”, her radiant self-confidence shining. Deputy Dog says, “Well somebody called me!” and Mem says “the dogs you want are across the road”. And sure enough our pups just sat at her feet with halos shining. One more go-around and the officer of the law, so to speak, completely gob smacked, got in his cruiser and left never to return.Back to top
Anne Memorie King, born January 24, 1955, daughter of the late Bruce Rowan King, Jr. and Shirley Quinn King of Richmond Va, left this world to join her spiritual sisters in faith on January 8, 2014. In addition to her mother she is survived by Susan King Horger of Richmond VA and Nancy King-Robinson of Leesburg, VA as well as brothers Matthew C. Q. King of Charlottesville VA and Bruce Rowan King, III of Bellingham, WA. Also she left behind her husband, Preston Loch Hoffman of Burke County NC with whom she operated a Community Supported Agriculture organization. In addition she supplied herbs and fruits to individuals and businesses in Western NC. Memorie earned a B.S. from NC State University in Wildlife studies with honors. She was systematic botanist and a passionate wildcrafter. More than anything she was in love with nature; the mountains and the ocean and everything in between. She was an accomplished diver and climber. Previously she had worked for The Veterinary School of NC State and Glaxo Pharmaceuticals but found her real calling as a massage therapist. Memorie made friends everywhere she went as she was justly celebrated for her modesty and generosity. A memorial will be held at our farm in Burke County starting at three PM on Saturday, January 25. She wanted donations made in lieu of flowers to the organization United Plant Savers. Blessed Be.Back to top
Why not talk about her flaws first. She was stubborn. Not necessarily a flaw. Usually she was right when she dug in her heels. Just about the only negative example is her misapprehension of her back pain. Or maybe on some level she always knew…but she chose to live life rather than be an invalid. She would never choose her sister’s life of perpetual illness. Mem was a little too concerned with possessions but not to the extent that other Americans are. Other than those she had no flaws I could discern.
Radiant self confidence was her usual mood. When that weakened; as when she doubted she would get the grant for the witchery…the very weakness made her more loveable and she was already almost unbearably so. But ordinarily her self confidence drew people to her and made good things happen. She made me and others feel safe in the most mysterious way. It was as if she knew something about life that we mortals could never know. And not just any something…something strangely affirmative and inspiring that flowed from her spiritual beliefs. Her outlook was usually all positive; no suffering demigod on a stick for her.
Memorie had no enemies; well, maybe an ex-boyfriend or two but other than them. What fools they must have been not to fall hopelessly in love with someone as replete with character as Mem. She probably should have despised them finally for their blindness and lack of appreciation. But other than the obligatory pillow talk at the start of our relationship they were never mentioned as bitterness was not her métier.
When I met her she was upset about her boss. Mem had turned down the co-op management job didn’t want to work full time and did not like to give orders. But Sunshine (or Cloudy Weather as I called her, always in a foul mood,) would not let Mem off; she had to work every weekend and had therefore just missed Wild Herb Weekend. But they weren’t enemies. After Mem quit and went to work at Beans ‘n Berries to my surprise, they became quite chummy. Mem forgave CW but without ostentation; seemingly without even trying. She held no grudges so forgiveness was easy.
Mem had the most even temper of anyone I have ever known. I saw her angry only a few times and even then it was muted as if she felt no one could bring her down to their level by behaving badly. When in pain she got irritable but she never expressed anger. Did she keep it in? Control it? I never got that impression; seemingly nothing bothered her enough to cause rage.
She was definitely an empath. When she helped others she seemed to bask in the pleasure and assistance she gave. Making other people feel good made her feel better. Empathy leads directly to another key to Mem’s character; her antiauthoritarianism. She did not like to be ordered around but most importantly she did not like to order others around either. That’s one reason (in addition to her back pain) that she turned down the full time management position at the co-op. Another example, the first time I saw this attribute, had to do with my then friend Carol B. We visited her and Mem made some chocolate herbal adaptogens as a gift. They’re a kind of healthy candy. Carol loved them and wanted more. But she went about getting them the wrong way. Way too brusqly she tried to order another batch. Mem demurred. Carol persisted. Money was offered. Wrong tactic. Mem continued to refuse and after we left Mem made it clear that they were not going to be friends.
Mem’s attitude toward money was part and parcel of her sweet character. She never tried to bargain or beat anyone down. She used money to show her basic generosity. She did not sniff at the stuff however. A good day at the farmers market always put her in a tip-top mood.
Memorie’s personality was very much a product of the Hegelian dialectic. Not consciously of course. But from what she told me and my observations it became obvious that growing up with an older sister who was authoritarian as well as rigidly conformist pushed Mem into the direction of freedom and individuality. While her sister was spending their father’s money on social climbing Mem insisted on working her way through NC State. I wonder why she chose to go to school there. She certainly must have come to love Raleigh though as that was where she spent the largest portion of her life. At any rate it was while working at a barbeque joint while going to school that she hurt her back the first time. However all this info belongs in the Mem and the sickness industry section. And her name…King’s man but elided; trimmed. She was noble however. I wonder how much the name might have influenced her character…she would try to live up with it. Good thing her name wasn’t shoup or teague as she did have a strong sex drive. Wonderfully strong.
So as her sister was setting a lamentable example of selfish publican phallus worship Mem joined the counterculture and all that entailed. Become a massage therapist was certainly a leap in that direction tho compared with what she was leaving, farrier’s helper, it was an improvement at least in respect to income and personal independence.
And it was completely in character. Memorie loved doing things. Accomplishing tasks. Making the world a little bit better. Helping people by making them feel better and by providing good food and herbs. When things went wrong; and the first year we were together there were problems. by joining me she too on the burden of the tractor swindle that was ongoing. Even when we were attacked; tractor tires slashed, truckwindshield broken, finally the tractor taken away; Memorie’s reaction was to get to work. She would find something to do that fed her sense of accomplishment.Back to top
Memories' back problems began when she was working at a Bar-b-que joint in Raleigh while attending NC State. She picked up a heavy can and immediately realized she had injured herself. She went to a back man who told her, "you are too young to have a damaged disk" and didn't bother with an x-ray. Perhaps he was flirting with her instead of doing his job. It would be decades before she received a correct diagnosis.
She had severe scoliosis which in her case unusually manifested itself by her ramrod straight back and posture. No bend at all. It's possible that generations of soldiery had via epigenetics bequeathed her this problem. Her grandfather was a professional soldier when that was an unusual occupation in the US. At any rate, from that time on she was never completely free of back pain. She did have back surgery before she moved to Asheville but her problems continued.
Memorie was a professional massage therapist who believed in massage as a healing tool. And in the past it had assuaged her discomfort so she had been getting regular massage for many years. But everything in our lives was otherwise great. We had wed on the Solstice of 2012, which meant a lot to her; though not to me; I felt we were a fated couple almost from the beginning. But on the day in question, July 24 2013, she had gone to have her massage from a muscular young lady who had her clinic in downtown Propst Crossroads. But when she came home from her session it was clear that something was terribly wrong. She had barely been able to drive home. It was too late to call the orthopedic clinic and Mem refused to go to the hospital. We hunted all over for painkillers but could find nothing stronger than valium. Memorie had given all the opioids she had saved for just such an emergency to a friend in need. Next day we called Western Carolina Orthopedics but they told us that she should make an appointment with their Morganton location. That was a fateful error. We called and an appointment was made for Monday. The weekend was a sleepless nightmare for both of us.
Then we came under the ministration of the evil Dr. Jason Zuck. After a cursory exam and an x-ray he informed us that he thought the injury that was clearly visible on the screen was an old one, and that we were marijuana addicts cruising for a fix. He refused to diagnose her and refused to prescribe any painkillers. Neither Memorie nor I believe in Hell, but fundamentalist sadists like Zuck and his staff deserve punishment. Unending torment would really be too good for him. He did schedule an MRI for Friday but on Wednesday they called and postponed it until the following Friday. At this point Mem had been in pain for a week; the kind of distress that most people would have found unbearable.
Memorie called her personal physician and her only suggestion was the emergency room. Thus began our series of 6 trips to Frye. Every other day the pain would become unbearable and she would have another injection of dilaudid. On the fifth trip one of Zook's partners, Dr. Maxie, noticed her suffering and scheduled an immediate MRI. There was no reason, other than the enjoyment that some "Xtians" get from making others suffer, that she could not have had the MRI two weeks earlier.
But why did Dr.Z think we were "Marijuana addicts". Morganton is a small town and there is little to do besides drink, seduce each other, and gossip. And I had been the subject of much gossip. Both my first wife, Dr. Carol Osteyee and faux waldensian Steve Dimeter had found it necessary to inform the world that I had, at times at least, used cannabis. Dimeter as an Xian, and the descendent of a Bulgarian Nazi, had informed anyone who would listen that his brother-in-law Allan Huffman, an alcoholic and serial philanderer, had on at least one occasion smoked with me. What did he have to gain from this? Well he wanted to distance himself from me at a time when we were both employed in Valdese. But mainly he is a believer in zero sum economics; the theory that the only way to gain wealth is to take it from someone else. At least that is my guess. Dr. Osteyee is another story. She seems to have believed that narking on me would raise sympathy for her. Perhaps it might even increase her chances to gain trophy wife status; something that was never going to happen. Thus Memorie was tormented as a sop to this evil woman's vanity.
The emergency MRI (we had been told that the MRI was unavailable but actually WCO owned a machine then parked in Newton, so Zook wanted us to wait for it not only to torture us but also to add to his bottom line) revealed that Mem had suffered an "exploded T-8 vertebra". How she bore this pain is beyond me. So from 7/24 until 8/12 she suffered unnecessarily. Not only that; but if she had received treatment 3 weeks earlier she might be alive today. Congratulations Xians, more innocent blood down your nasty cruel gullets. Will your thirst never be sated?Back to top
I knew Memorie quite a while ago in the early 90's. She and I taught massage together at the Body Therapy Institute. Those were good times. Memorie lived with Strider in a house on a road that was still dirt at the time and there were plenty of trees. I would come over and have a good cup of tea, smoke an American Spirit cigarette or 2 and talk about life while listening to Annie Lenox. "Why" was her favorite song at the time and she could sing it pretty well. She'd make up the words to "Walking on Broken Glass" . We worked out a deal for exchanging massages to keep each other healthy. We were total anatomy/physiology geeks and practiced different strokes, percussion, movement or whatever. Memorie had great hands. She always got upset with me when I missed my turn to receive.
Teaching was never dull with Memorie. She had a great way of questioning folks to bring out their questions and in a way that kept the inquiry simple and light. Curiosity and having fun were two qualities we shared abundantly. Those times in the yurt were incredibly special. We stoked the stove in the winter, swam in the big pond in the summer and did the best we could to give our students the best experience possible. Building muscles on little skeletons, going through pathology, finding the emotional centers of pain and holding our students in a space brave enough to grow as much as they wanted.
I remember times of dancing, hand drumming and laughter. Memorie had such a light step on the earth. Her radiant smile, bright eyes, beautiful curls and long limbs had a way of moving smoothly into any space without noise. Then, she'd look up into the space as if to say in a quiet voice "pretend you don't see me". It was amazing. She could practically disappear when she wanted to. Memorie lived a simple life that had that calm veneer hiding a well of deep and sometimes turbulent thoughts.
I'm so glad she made it to the mountains and kept her hands in the dirt. For a while I thought she'd move to Hawaii and be a diver. She seemed to love that. But, she always seemed more at home in the woods than anywhere else. I am somewhat at a loss knowing she's not physically with us anymore. I consider myself eminently lucky to have known such a beautiful person. Recently I connected with a couple of our students. I haven't spoken to them in 23 years. One of their 1st questions to me was about Memorie. She had a profound impact on so many lives.Back to top
If you have any special stories about Memorie you would like to add, please email Marti.