Facebook Twitter



Imogene Wilhelmsen King, known to her friends and family as "Gene," died on June 14, 1996 of causes incident to age. She was 90.

Imogene was born in Salt Lake City on July 8, 1905 to Orson and Sylvia Wilhelmsen, and was the oldest of six children. She attended public schools, including East High, and later graduated from the University of Utah. On August 6, 1926, she married Karl V. King, a son of Samuel and Maynetta Bagley King and a nephew of Senator William H. King. Karl was an attorney who enjoyed helping the underdog in court cases, and was instrumental in assisting the migration of Basque sheepherders to the United States. They had 43 happy years together, living in Utah and traveling abroad, before he died in 1969.While a student at the University of Utah, Imogene was an editor of the Chronicle, president of the Cosmopolitan Club, vice-president of the Senior Class, and president of Mortar Board. In 1980, she received the Merit of Honor Award from the University Emeritus Club.

Imogene obtained a Master of Psychiatric Clinical Social Work degree from Columbia University in New York in 1946. Over the years, she held many positions of responsibility in the Utah community. As a professor, she taught in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Utah and was founder of the School. She was also a private family and marriage counselor. From 1956 to 1968, she was the Executive Director of the Family Service Society of Utah. She was also a professor and psychiatric social worker in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, at the University. Recently, she was greatly honored by the Utah Association of Social Workers who chose her as "Utah Social Worker for the Decade, 1946-56."

Imogene was a member of many organizations, including the National Association of Social Workers, of which she was secretary from 1960 to 1962. She also served on the NASW board. She helped to create early versions of the Head Start program, and she organized traveling clinics that brought social work services to remote parts of Utah. She traveled to Lebanon, Ethiopia, and Uganda as a Social Welfare specialist for the Department of State. Governor Rampton, who attended her retirement dinner, appointed her to survey mental health needs throughout Utah, which resulted in a large report and subsequent implementation.

Imogene was president of Zonta International in 1967. In 1970, she was chair of the Utah Task Force on Health and Drugs for the White House Conference on Children and Youth. She was the author of many articles and reports, and she gave numerous talks in the community concerning families, youth, and mental health.

A loving and caring person, she had many friends. She was a mentor, guide, and confidante for many persons. She enjoyed the company of people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. She had an everpresent curiosity about people and a wonderful sense of humor. She cherished her grandchildren and they cherished her. Loyal member of the Democratic Party. A lover of the arts and classical music and champion of local and international causes.

She is survived by her two sons, James and his wife Jane, and by Sam and his wife Eda; eight grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Preceded in death by her younger brothers Homer, Carl, Bruce, and Kent, and by a beloved granddaughter, Julie, and a great-grandson, Joseph. Imogene is also survived by her sister, Maurine Howard Hansen of Oregon, and sisters-in-law Anna Wilhelmsen and Margaret King Robinson.

A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, June 15, at 3 p.m., Larkin Mortuary, 260 East South Temple. Contributions in her name may be made to your favorite charity or to the Graduate School of Social Work, University of Utah.

N 6/14 N 6/15