Danny King speaks to the crowd at the Sevier County main library as wife Liz, daughter Lindsey and son D.J. stand near.Photo by Michele Karl
“You give and get, then you get and give” that was a statement made by Danny King as he, along with his wife Liz and children D.J and Lindsey, presented a gift pledge of $1 million to the Sevier County Library System for the building of the new main library.
D.J., 17, is a senior at Sevier County High School. Lindsey, 19, is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee.
The library, which will be located in downtown Sevierville, will be named The King Family Library in honor of the generous donation. In total, the family will be donating $1.5 million. “We are offering a challenge to the community,” stated Danny. “A financial challenge to help us gather the funds needed to meet our goal.”
The county has pledged $3 million for the library system (which included the construction of the new Seymour Library at a cost of approximately $500,000) and the City of Sevierville has pledged another $2 million. The King gift of $1 million with other gifts to date of $500,000 puts the foundation well on their way to achieving their goal of raising $8.5 million. The King family has pledged an additional $500,000 if the public can do their part towards the goal.
“We talked and prayed about the donation as a family and decided, as a family, to make the gift,” Danny told the Herald.
During the announcement on Monday, January 8, President of the Foundation for the Sevier County Public Library System Judge Rex Ogle opened the festivities and spoke about the King family. “I have known the King family for years and they are giving individuals who have worked hard for the citizens of Sevier County, all the time doing it behind the scenes. They are wonderful people and a wonderful family.”
Ogle talked about the need for a new library. “The Sevier County Library System owns and possesses historical collections, artifacts and papers that are probably excelled by the McClurg Museum at the University of Tennessee, yet we have no place to exhibit or allow public access to these treasures,” stated Ogle. “We hope to remedy this problem as soon as possible.”
Many dignitaries were on hand for the announcement including Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, County Mayor Larry Waters, State Representative Richard Montgomery as well as many city and county officials.
The new main library will replace the existing library, built 40 years ago and this is not the first time the King family has helped the Sevier County Library System. A.J. King, Danny’s father, made the first lead gift of $1,000 in the library’s campaign in 1966. Long time Sevier County resident John Waters spoke about knowing several generations of the King Family. “I asked Danny’s dad to make a donation of $1000 when we were raising money for the library in 1966 and without hesitation he said yes. I knew I should have asked for $2000,” stated Waters with a chuckle.
The new library will be 45,000 square feet, built where the King Lumber Company was located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Gary Wade Blvd./High Street and Prince/Railroad Street. BarberMcMurry Architects have designed the new main library.
The library has come a long way from the initial efforts of Fred Rawlings who, in 1922, obtained a loan of 200 books from the War Service Department to start the Sevier County Library. Today, the Sevier County Library System has more than 84,000 holdings.
More than half of the all Sevier County residents are active patrons of the library. The other branches of the Sevier County library system include Seymour and Kodak. “Many of us take the library for granted,” stated Danny. “Knowledge is key to our society’s well being – and, at their core, libraries are about gaining knowledge.
With knowledge we gain the ability to overcome the needs that we have now. We know the needs will always be there, but our library will be a resource that can help us face our challenges generation after generation. It is our privilege to be able to make this gift. This is a gift from our hearts to Sevier County.”