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Family, friends pay final respects to Jim King
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Family, friends pay final respects to Jim King

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MOLINE -- Kris Ketz stood proudly at the podium and explained a lighthearted take his mother, Gloria, offered on the sudden death of his father, Jim King.

``Maybe God that day needed a fourth for a round (of golf).''

The quip sent laughter rippling through the large crowd gathered at Moline's Sacred Heart Cathedral Thursday for Mr. King's funeral.

A Quad-Cities television fixture, Mr. King was eulogized Thursday as a caring husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend and humanitarian. The Rev. Robert Lee said Mr. King had time for anyone and ``he created new ways of communicating with the Quad-Cities.''

Mr. King -- who went by his real name, Jim Ketz, in private life -- died Jan. 2 at Illini Hospital after suffering a heart attack.

A 35-year newscasting veteran at WQAD-TV 8, Moline, he was a Labor-Day weekend fixture on the local Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy. In 28 years of hosting the event, Mr. King helped raise nearly $30 million to fight the disease.

Mr. Lewis issued a written statement on the impact of his death on the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

``I'm heartbroken at the loss of Jim King,'' the statement read. ``For 28 years, he presided over one of the most successful local broadcasts of our telethon, raising some $30 million to help families affected by neuromuscular diseases.

``Jim's passion and talent were unbeatable, and he had an infinite capacity for serving our cause. Jim was a regular at MDA summer camp, as well as MDA fundraising events and meetings year round,'' the statement read. ``We're grateful for the personal sacrifices his spouse, Gloria, and their three sons made to facilitate Jim's tireless work for `my kids.' Jim will be keenly missed.''

Mr. Ketz, a news anchor at KMBC-TV 9 in Kansas City, Mo., said funny moments often erupted over his father's use of a stage name.

``It was a football game at Wilson Junior High, and as usual, my brother Jay had scored another touchdown,'' Mr. Ketz said, noting his brothers Jay and Keven were the athletes of the family. ``And some guy comes over to the coach and says `Isn't it great how Jim King married that Ketz woman and took on the chore of raising those three boys?' We had a good laugh with that one.''

He went on to describe how last Father's Day he was allowed to share the same newscast with his dad, who got him started in television more than 20 years ago.

``Some of the staff asked him if he wanted to go over a few things before we started,'' Mr. Ketz said. ``And my dad said `Nah, I'll be OK.' When the lights went and we did it, my dad didn't miss a shot or a mark.

``He was on his game -- at his best. In the break, the producer tells me `Man, he's good,' and I shoot back `You know, he does this for a living,' '' Mr. Ketz said.

He added that despite his father's sudden death, each member of the family knew where they stood with him.

``He knew we loved him, and we knew he loved us,'' Mr. Ketz said. ``And that's all that mattered.''

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