Al King was a big man — in so many ways. It was not just his stature, although he towered over many of us, including his wife Penny. And it wasn’t just the way he picked up the guitar and belted out the song Bonie Moronie at a party to our surprise and inspired everyone to play music with him or get up and dance. And it wasn’t just his unique way of telling a story that pulled you into his adventures. It was his huge spirit and his will to make things. Penny explained, Al had many dreams. And he did them all.
We just visited Penny at their home on King Mountain in Cloverdale. It will probably be the last time we twist our way up that mountain road. But we are not ready to say goodbye to Al and all that he built. It is too beautiful and inspired. He renovated their beautiful home and built a guest house and impressive barn/wine cellar. He built a pool, patio and pond. He raised chickens and sheep. He planted orange trees, avocado trees, roses, and lemon trees. But mostly, he planted grapes. Lots of grapevines that covered the hillside with luscious green leaves and juicy black grapes. Yes, people have done before what he has done. But not in the way Al did it and not in the perfect spot on the mountain that he chose. He was independent, determined and experienced. He was a builder and knew how to make things that were both functional and inspired. Simple, down to earth and beautiful at their core. He didn’t need fancy ostentatious woodwork or branding. He cut through all the fluff. He understood expression and design. He loved art and picked what he liked, like a magnet drawn to the artist’s energy. That combination of having big dreams and knowing how to make them real was his gift.
We had no idea how old Al was. He seemed ageless and like he would live forever. He learned to fly a plane in his 60s. He took up wind sailing along the way. He wrote and published books. And as we heard during one visit, he wrote beautiful love songs for Penny. We loved that he reprimanded us for the fact our kids didn’t know how to climb trees yet. It was wrong they didn’t know. And he warned us not to push our kids too much with school. It has been hard for him to sit in classes. He knew each of us was different and encouraged us to treat our kids with sensitivity and uniquely. He was full of good advice and paid attention to our kids and to us we were together. We loved spending time with him, drinking wine and walking around the land. It was somehow perfect.
Al, you brightened our world. Thank you for your big spirit and for touching our lives. We will miss you.