When Mercy Development Foundation needed a chair for its 2nd Century Campaign – a fundraising initiative dedicated to renovation and expansion of our emergency department (ED) – James King, MD, was an ideal choice. Thanks in large part to his efforts, we exceeded our $6 million goal for the first capital campaign for a Stark County hospital since 1973.
An entrepreneur, a technology enthusiast, the grandson of a National Football League founder, and the namesake of family friend and football legend James Francis Thorpe, James F. King, MD, has been a Mercy advocate and ambassador for more than four decades.
Born in Louisville, Ohio, as the oldest of seven, Dr. King at one time considered becoming a Catholic priest. Instead, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, James J. Pagano, MD, a Mercy surgeon. Dr. Pagano supported his young nephew's goal of attending the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., and later the St. Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., where Dr. King graduated third in his class in 1961.
As a gastroenterologist, he established Gastroenterology Associates Inc., and was a Mercy physician from 1969 to 2008. He served on the hospital's board of directors from 1983 to 1992 and again from 2005 to 2014. In addition, Dr. King was a charter member of the Mercy Development Foundation board and has been serving for five years. His wife Charlene graduated from the Mercy School of Nursing in 1958.
Importance of Mercy's Catholic Identity and Mission
Dr. King says he was drawn to Mercy because of its Catholic identity and mission. "The hospital has always had a special personality," he says. "The mission is very obvious in the people who work at Mercy. There is a family-like atmosphere with a strong Christian core."
He decided to chair the 2nd Century Campaign because he believed a renovated ED was critical to the hospital's progress. He says, "The emergency department is often the first 'face' people see of Mercy. I am very pleased with the results of our fundraising efforts. The new ED is so much more efficient and productive, and Mercy has taken the quality of emergency care to a new level. We've always had very good emergency doctors and nurses. Now they have a better work environment."
Philanthropy Will Be Critical to Future Progress
According to Dr. King, Mercy's many advances on a local, regional and national level are due in large part to the community's investment of talent and leadership in the hospital. Exceptional programs in heart, cancer, orthopedics, dentistry and more have resulted.
In the future, he believes federal and state funding for health care will be signifanctly reduced. "Philanthropy will become even more important to Mercy's progress. In fact, it will be critical," he says.
In addition to Catholic health care, the Kings support Catholic education locally at St. Michael School, Central Catholic High School and Walsh University. In 2000, they endowed the first chair in gastroenterology at St. Louis University School of Medicine. The Kings have also established a family scholarship at the University of Notre Dame.
Today, following six years of performing gastroenterology consults throughout Ohio and in Sioux Falls, S.D., Dr. King and his wife are enjoying full retirement. The couple has four children and seven grandchildren and celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in August 2014.