Jan King,. age 72 years, of, Jefferson City, died March 16, 2019, at his home. He was born on August 9, 1946, in Harrison, Arkansas, the son of Edgar and Ethel King. He graduated from West Plains High School in 1964. He served in the United States Army and was a police officer, taught at West Plains Jr. High, and was an orderly at a hospital while putting himself through college and law school at University of Missouri-Columbia.
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After receiving his law degree, Mr. King worked for Secretary of State James C. Kirkpatrick and as a hearing officer for the Missouri Division of Employment Security. In 1986, he found his calling and spent the remainder of his career representing accused persons as an attorney for the Missouri State Public Defender. After spending time in the Jefferson City office and the Capital Division of MSPD, he was district defender, leading the Jefferson City trial office, from 1993 until his retirement in 2016. He developed a reputation among clients, colleagues, and judges as a lawyer who loved to argue and stand up for his clients. His libertarian ideals and unwillingness to tolerate abuses of authority, and resolute commitment to representing unpopular persons and positions, made him ideally suited to fully champion the interests of his many indigent clients. He particularly loved to take the opportunity to mentor young lawyers within and without the public defender system, always willing to share information to help others represent their accused clients effectively. As one long-time colleague described it, “his finger prints were all over the careers of a lot of young lawyers” who went on to become successful, respected advocates across Missouri.
Mr. King was a well-read fan of NASCAR, the NRA, and Mark Twain.
He is survived by his sister, Edna Jo Dillingham, Kansas City; nieces Candee Dillingham Pope, Liberty, and Heidi Dillingham Eichkorn, Topeka; and one grand-nephew and three grand-nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his brother, John Elvin King.
The family will receive friends at a memorial service on Saturday May 4, 2019, at noon, at the St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 4301 N.E. Vivion Road, Kansas City, Missouri.
Memorial contributions are suggested to the Salvation Army or to the Capital Area Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).