Remember & Celebrate

A Zoom funeral service is scheduled for family and friends on March 6th at 11 AM. Please join us live on YouTube at https://youtu.be/EeFjjbiUODs.


Gathering 
Opening words: Susie Henderson 
Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1: William Aide 

Family Remembrances 
If I Had a Nightingale by Alan King : Shared Reading 
Gayle Dudeck 
Chloe King 
Christopher King 
Bradley Dudeck 

Family Slideshow 
soundtrack “Chasing Paradise” written by Alan King 
performed by William Aide and Rachel Aide 

Elaine Bird: poem 

Community Remembrances 
Jay Stone 
Bill Aide (including Chopin Etude Op.25 No.12) 
Slideshow of Alan’s Art 
Roxana Spicer 

Closing 
Goldberg Variations Theme: William Aide 
Closing words: Susie Henderson 

Obituary

It is with great sadness that the King family announces the peaceful passing of Alan King on February 8, 2021, at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Alan was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and emigrated with his parents Alfred and Maureen King in 1948 eventually settling in Whitby, Ontario. Predeceased by his brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Susan (Foster) King, and lovingly remembered by his two children, Christopher (Jessica) and Chloe (Romain), and sisters Gayle (Gary) Dudeck and Elaine Bird.

Alan studied classical piano, organ and English at Western University. An extraordinary, self-taught artist, Alan first worked in advertising and publishing, with some of his early illustrations appearing in the Toronto Star, Maclean’s, Time magazine and Readers Digest. Alan joined the Ottawa Citizen in 1979, where he worked as editorial cartoonist for 17 years. He was known for his sharp wit and smart satirical commentary (later donating over 700 political cartoons to the National Archives). He also contributed arts and book reviews.

After leaving the newspaper business, Alan had a successful career as a commercial illustrator, his work represented by a U.S.-based agent. He designed coins for the Royal Canadian Mint and illustrated stamps for Canada Post. When he returned to Toronto in 2013, he transitioned into web design and digital illustration, while teaching watercolour and digital art at George Brown College. Alan was a member of the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto, where he will be remembered for his stimulating conversations and infectious laughter.

His prolific output transcended convention and categorization and included oil portraits – one of his greatest passions, along with music. His paintings included such notables as William Aide (Musician/Artist), Andrew Absil (Anglican Bishop), Leonard Lee (Founder of Lee Valley), and Elizabeth Kilbourne (Anglican Priest).

Alan died after unexpected complications following heart surgery, despite every effort by staff at St. Mike’s to save him. The family is especially grateful to the doctors and nurses in the cardiovascular ICU, as well as for all the friends who sent their tributes and words of kindness.

Select (or click) on the the book image below to make your purchase.

Colourful illustrated book cover of a child asleep and dreaming in bed. A black background, and a nightingale perched on a coloured arc with lines of colour streaming out of the bird's beak.

61 Comments

  1. Bill Aide says:

    I was impressed with the wide net of Alan’s interests. His artwork, of course, was second to none. I have four of his paintings and an unusually beautiful poster he made for one of my recitals. His cartoons were trenchant and hilarious. And those quick studies (30 to 40 minutes long) were incredibly skilful. He also designed my website. williamaide.com. with a beautiful efficiency. He did an enormous amount of reading and introduced me to ideas that I wouldn’t have come across on my own. We shared similar tastes in short stories like Amy Hempel’s “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried” and novels like Philip Roth’s “American Pastoral”, but I could never persuade him of the power of Alice Munro.I gave him the complete short stories of John Cheever and we talked about them a lot. We shared so much by way of music and performing artists. We listened to Angela Hewitt’s performance of Bach’s “Art of Fugue” together…and I was able to introduce him to the Schumann-Liszt Widmung, which he enjoyed practicing. Just a small slice of what we had going.
    Alan was unfailingly generous to me. He was so positive about my wife’s recovery and helped me through sad times. Haide was abnormally (I thought) concerned about virginia creeper taking over our two-story garden wall; Alan offered to help me tear it down and did the highest and most difficult part of the work.
    And of course, the humour. We laughed the hours away, and Alan had the most beatific head-thrown-back guffaw, I’ve ever seen and heard. We loved sharing a bottle or so of Sauvignon Blanc (SVB, we called it).
    He once wrote to me that I was the best friend he had ever made in his entire life. I can’t think of a anything more deeply and movingly validating. He was assuredly the same for me.
    I should certainly like to play Bach for him at some kind of memorial. But covid restrictions weigh heavily. Please remember that I can and must honour him with music. He was very fond of my Chopin Etudes, which are on utube…especially the Ocean, track 24, that he enjoyed practicing. He has a number of my CDs.
    I still can’t believe he has died. But I know and feel painfully that he has left me. It will take a while.
    Respectfully to you and Chris and Chloe and your family,

    Like

  2. Roxana Spicer says:

    I am so deeply saddened by Alan’s departure ‘into the cosmos’ as he would say. I spent more time with Alan since the pandemic than any other friend. It was the strangest time on the planet to find each other but we did somehow. And he gave me so many fun-filled moments I just had to share them with you. He was always up for a spontaneous adventure and over the months, rain or shine, we got out on the bikes almost every weekend since last April. We saw many wondrous things together, exploring the city from Taylor Creek, Hyde Park, Toronto Island, the Humber River, the Beaches, Distillery district, Mimico, and the Brickworks. I’m sure we could have written a tour guide book based on the miles we put in together on the bikes. We swam in 57 degree Lake Ontario at the Beaches and Wards’ island. He’s the one who said, “you’ll regret it if you don’t go in!” I was also in his ‘bubble’ at the apartment where he played original compositions for me, sang, and apologized for his fingers slipping off the keys after a bottle of wine and a very good cognac laden beef dish he made from a NYT recipe I sent to him to check out. He showed me photographs of the kids and told me stories of how his heart soared with their successes in life. He described hiking adventures with Christopher out West, his pride in Chloe’s work with the Montreal comedic world, while wondering when he was going to meet her mysterious and new beau. He worried about what to give them for Christmas, and when I suggested artwork, he thought they already had enough of that, and what did I think of the Insta-Pot anyway? He missed his brother every day and kept Paul’s picture on the fridge. He was working on a new painting series, very whimsical and really fabulous, a little comic woman figure with a paper hat of newspaper that I absolutely thought was brilliant and told him so. We discussed art, music, politics, books, and his impatience with most fiction and his disdain of Conrad Black. He dreamt of returning to Paris where he once roomed with Keith Spicer (no relation). I told him he’d look good in a French beret. He was so proud he could keep up with you and Gary on your electric bikes, up and down the hills during his birthday ‘tour’ together. He was baffled why he needed heart surgery. Surely a stent would do! You wondered if he had been suffering with his heart condition without you realizing it. I can tell you he had no physical discomfort or warning at all until a particular autumn Sunday on the bike trail, on a route we had done at least three times. For the first time, he asked to stop and catch his breath. He wasn’t in pain, but he felt a chest pressure and then a rush. I thought he was just dehydrated. A few weeks later, after a robust ride along the Don Valley and a picnic of mushroom lasagna, salad, and spicy hot chocolate, he rode home. That evening he really felt more exhausted than he thought he should have been, and wondered if the family curse of heart disease had caught up with him. We had regular chats on the phone at odd hours. Some article in the NYT that caught his eye. A book on Chance he’d just read and had I, too? He wore his heart on his sleeve. He was the kindest man I ever knew, besides my Dad. He took time to ride up and see dear Bill Aide every Friday and share an afternoon glass of wine in the garden. He took the streetcar across town to visit his 95 year old friend Betty in the nursing home. The planet is poorer place today without Alan in it. I’m so grateful for the time we had together. We were looking forward to a post-pandemic world where we share a box at the opera or oysters at a bistro. (We downed 24 in my gazebo as a warm up act.) I wish I had taken more snaps. The way his hair blew in the wind as we took the open air ferry across the lake. The big laugh. But I feel so blessed to have those images in my minds’ eye. My heart is with you and the family during these tear soaked days. xo Roxana

    Like

  3. On behalf of the Club, please accept our sincere condolences to you and your family. Alan made significant contributions to the Club and he will be missed.

    Like

  4. Noel Taylor says:

    Re: I was so saddened to hear of Alan’s death last night. He was a good friend who sent me a lovely painted birthday portrait for my 92nd. I shall treasure and revisit every birthday I have left. Though we have never met I shall be mourning with you, and hope that all the messages you get from Citizen colleagues will remind you how much he was respected and loved. I shall miss him.

    Like

  5. Jess Hungate says:

    I’m moved by all of these wonderful tributes and reminiscences to contribute my own, very small, note about Alan. Like some others on this thread, my connection with Alan was through the Arts & Letters Club. He seemed to “pop up” in various places, including our Friday lunch conversations (where his contributions came, fairly quietly usually but forcefully, from a leftist perspective), and of course work with the Art Committee – but then, when Bill Aide had a concert, there he was unveiling a portrait of Bill that he’d just completed. I had heard from others about his wonderful ad lib piano playing, but never heard him myself. I also had the pleasure of having some scotch tastings with Alan, with John Ryerson and another friend, and Alan also joined in our just held tasting pre Burns celebration (where he contributed an interesting description of Springbank). He had advised me of his upcoming surgery, so my friend and fellow Club member Barbara Rose and I were surprised to encounter him on one of our walks, only several weeks ago now. He was near his apartment, but going down to the Brickworks, which is quite a distance. He looked just a bit grey, but otherwise fine, and left us with a cheery goodbye. Barbara and I express our deep sadness that he is no longer with us, and condolences to his family, and other friends.
    I also want to add my wonder, and optimism in the midst of this sad news: in sharing our memories of Alan’s existence, I feel we are reaffirming the value of his life, and of the community (or communities) which a person like Alan could be involved with.
    And I thank Gayle (whom I have never met), whose generosity and energy in communicating Alan’s circumstances have made this sharing possible.

    Like

  6. Karen Teeple says:

    I learned about Alan’s passing a few days ago and wanted to let you know how very sorry I am to hear about this. It was very devastating news to hear and I’m sure all of you are still in a state of shock.
    Alan and I had many wonderful and memorable times together and I had so enjoyed meeting and spending time with you and Gary. Alan was such an unusual person in so many ways – he had a very inquiring mind, always embraced new experiences and was always passionate about, and engaged in subjects that interested him. For the period of time that we were together I was the beneficiary of his enthusiasm and energy and I feel very lucky to have known him.
    It is very heartbreaking to know that his heart surgery involved complications that led to his death. He had so much to offer to everyone he met and my heart goes out to all of you in this time of loss. I was always envious of Alan’s extended family – there was always warmth and caring amongst the family members and all seemed very supportive of one another.
    Please accept my heartfelt condolences to the family and especially to Chloe and Christopher.
    Warmest regards,
    Karen

    Like

  7. John Parikhal says:

    I hate doing this. Writing about the death of a friend. Alan and I knew each other for 51 years, went to high school together (where his brilliant art work was a spectacular campaign tool for me), lived together in University (at Western), and spoke only last week about how we were going to work together soon on an innovative workplace art project. He casually mentioned that he was going in for open-heart surgery in a few days so the project would have to wait a few weeks at least. That was the last time I spoke with him. Over a roller coaster weekend he went from bad to worse to actually good (I was elated) to the worst. Now, Alan is gone. This photo is from his website so I believe it is the way he might want to be remembered. A fiercely independent thinker, driven by his art, supremely talented, super observant, and damned good looking. He was a magnetic piano player, a world-class organist, a painter, illustrator, and “this might get me fired” political cartoonist at one of Canada’s most influential newspapers. That’s just for starters. But, above all, Alan King was a friend. And, I miss him.

    Like

  8. Cheri King says:

    Trying to process this sad news today. We were / are cousins. Our dads are brothers. One raised in Whitby (Toronto), and the other in Winnipeg. The first time I met him, I asked my parents (as a young teen) if it was legal in Canada to marry one’s first cousin. They told me it was not, and I was so disappointed. I told them that I thought that Alan was the best guy there could be. I thought that he had the most attractive qualities of any male I had ever met, and I was about 14.
    When I was 19, his brother Paul got married, and I took a Greyhound bus for 2 days to Toronto, and Alan met me at the bus terminal there. He treated me to my first experience of Chinese food, in China Town in Toronto. I still smile when I think of his humorous comment when I asked what the foods were. As we were about to dish out some cooked liver, he matter-of-factly said, “Do you think it’s still palpitating?” I still think of that comment from time to time and smile, as he had me wondering if maybe it might still be alive.
    His apartment at that time in Toronto looked like an art gallery and I was in awe of it, especially a huge painting covering the space of his entire dining room wall — of Napoleon on horseback with troops heading into Russia. He had some other amazing works of art in his closet, as there was not enough room to display all of them. A true artistic genius, yet so unassuming.
    His sense of humour is classic King humour, and it was such a joy to listen to his stories, insights, knowledge, and camaraderie with many varied people of different views. A true Renaissance man.
    Sending all the family much, much love,

    Like

  9. Barb King says:

    My heart is breaking. I’m so sorry. This is beyond awful
    Love to all of u

    Like

  10. Marlene and Ted Mazur says:

    We are so sorry to hear that your brother Al has passed away. The last time we talked, things didn’t look good, but somehow I thought their might be some hope. I know you were very close to him, so that makes it harder. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Take care.

    Like

  11. Sarah Coleman says:

    My Mum told me of the sad news about Al, I was so sorry to hear that.
    Anna and I often read Alan’s book you sent, she loves it at bedtime.
    We’re truly sorry for your loss and thinking of you.
    Love and best wishes.

    Like

  12. Nancy Baele says:

    I was so saddened and overwhelmed by the news of Alan’s death that I was not able to write you immediately but I want you to know how grateful I am for your emails during this difficult time. I haven’t met you or Elaine but I could tell from Alan’s tone, whenever he mentioned his sisters, that he had great affection for you both.
    Alan was such a life force – so gifted in music, art and literature- it’s hard to believe that he is no longer with us. We met when I was writing about visual art and he was the editorial cartoonist at the Ottawa Citizen. My husband and I considered Alan a dear friend and were so happy to have him, Christopher and Chloe visit. I also remember Alan bringing your mother to see us many years ago. She had visited Parliament and gave a lively account of what she witnessed. I could see where the King family got their sense of fun.
    After Alan, moved to Toronto, we stayed in touch, but rarely saw each other, as our lives diverged. I was busy with my husband who had Alzheimer’s for ten years before he died in December 2019.
    It was wonderful, but not surprising, to hear how Alan flourished in Toronto – his involvement with the Arts and Letters Club, painting such perceptive and accomplished portraits , teaching watercolour classes, having friends, like William Aide, who shared Alan’s musical, literary, artistic talents.
    I always marvelled at his resilience and his curiosity. He never seemed daunted, always treated life as a stimulating adventure.
    When I found out Thursday that he was scheduled to have a triple bypass on Friday I called to wish him well. He was as witty as ever and treated the pending operation as nonchalantly as he would an appointment with a dental hygienist. He said he had the most acclaimed surgeon at Saint Mike’s, the operation was considered routine and he would be spending the post op recovery at your home. How I wish that scenario had played out.
    My heart goes out to you and your family and especially to Christopher and Chloe. They must be devastated. I will write them both.
    We were all lucky to have had Alan touch our lives..
    With my deepest sympathy,

    Like

  13. Jay Stone says:

    My condolences to all of you. I’m heartbroken by this news.
    I knew Alan for maybe 40 years, and we always got along well, but in the past year or so, meeting him every week on our Zoom calls, I came to know him better and to appreciate how well-informed and talented he was. He seemed to have read every book (and could remember the authors and the content!) and knew a lot about almost every topic. If we talked about Trump, Alan could quote statistics on his popularity. If I bought a painting from a Toronto artist, Alan had not only heard of the guy, he had actually met him at a party. He amazed me every week.
    I think we began to become closer friends, which isn’t easy for old guys. Alan was so interesting and had such a generous heart. I still can’t believe it failed him.
    My thoughts are with you.

    Like

  14. Rod MacIvor says:

    So sorry to hear about Alan’s passing. He was one of the nice guys at the Ottawa Citizen where I worked as a photographer for 27 years! I admired his art paintings and drawings on the internet over the last years. Many will be shocked to hear of his heart problems (as I was I )…Be assured he will be missed by MANY people , as part of our work family !!

    Like

  15. Ken MacQueen says:

    So sorry Gayle and family. Such a terrible loss of such an accomplished man. Beautiful art, beautiful music, beautiful soul. Godspeed Alan.

    Like

  16. Charles Gordon says:

    It is such sad news and my condolences to everyone in the family. I worked with Alan for many years, enjoyed his company and admired his work. (I was also a good friend of Paul, another man I admired greatly.) It was a pleasure in recent years to reconnect with Alan, both in person and online. All of us in the ex-Ottawa Citizen community enjoyed meeting up with him every week on Zoom. He was so well-informed on a variety of issues and it was a pleasure to chat with him. It is a tragedy that he was taken so young.

    Like

  17. Sharon Kirkey says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Chloe will miss her father, terribly. I’m so grateful to you both for being there to help Chloe through this.
    My thoughts are with the family. Please let me now if there is anything I can do.

    Like

  18. Sue Smith says:

    I have just received the sad news of Alan’s passing.
    I am so very sorry to hear this and extend my deepest sympathies.
    Please feel this big huge hug across the distance, and may it accompany you moment by moment as you tend to the days ahead.
    Sending much love to you and the whole family.

    Like

  19. Lauretta Holbrook says:

    I was shocked and saddened to hear this news.
    Alan was highly regarded in the art and music worlds . He was often a welcome guest in my home . My thoughts and prayers are with you and his family at this sad and difficult time .
    Best

    Like

  20. Jane Taber says:

    I am an old friend of Alan’s from the Ottawa Citizen days.
    We had so much fun back then. I have so many fabulous memories of Alan and all of the characters at the paper in the early 80s and through the 90s.
    I live in Halifax now, and right at this moment I am sitting here in front of one of Alan’s lovely paintings that we purchased at his show in Toronto a few years ago; Alan also painted a beautiful portrait of our daughter, for her first birthday. She is now 32, and I treasure it. He captured her essence!!!
    It’s beautiful.
    Alan and I were able to reconnect a few years ago through another friend. It was good to catch up with him.
    I am so sorry. This is so sad.
    Please accept my condolences and pass them along to his sister and his children.
    Take care, Jane

    Like

  21. Helen Rohacek says:

    I was heartbroken when I heard the news yesterday. Alan is my cousin. I have so many wonderful memories of our childhood since the King cousins spent lots of time with our family in Newmarket. Alan obviously went one step too far one day with my mother and she put him out of the car and told him he could walk home. He didn’t know the town well but he made it. I remember many happy days at the cottage at Hall’s Lake. Alan was very talented in so many ways. One of his first works of art was the large mural on the wall of the living room on Bayview Ave. I am the proud owner of a painting did of the Irish cottage where my father was born. An accomplished musician Alan played at our wedding. I will always remember his distinctive laugh. I can hear it now R.I.P .

    Like

  22. Doreen Lewis says:

    I SEND MY CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILIES MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL HUGS

    Like

  23. Mary and Ross Millar says:

    What a fantastic life and tribute to your beautiful brother Alan .Gayle I know you’ll miss him everyday I hope you get a little comfort from all of your fantastic memories and time spent together. xxxx

    Like

  24. June Wilkonson says:

    So sorry for your loss may god bless you all.

    Like

  25. Margaret Clear says:

    So very sorry for the loss of your brother Alan. He sure was incredibly talented in so many ways. We are all thinking about you and your family at this time.

    Like

  26. Vicky Baxter says:

    May your memories help fill the lonely painful spots.

    Like

  27. Steven King says:

    My deepest condolences to you the entire family Gayle.
    This is so sad to hear.

    Like

  28. Matthew Fawcett says:

    Sorry to hear this Gayle. my condolences 🙏

    Like

  29. Amy Mazur says:

    I am sorry to hear this. My condolences to you and your family.

    Like

  30. Sandy Pigeau says:

    Oh dear Gayle. I’m so very sorry to hear this sad news. My deepest condolences to you and your family. Big hug.

    Like

  31. Danita Murphy says:

    Our heartfelt condolences to you and your family. (((HUGS))))

    Like

  32. Alex Hogg says:

    So sad to read this. Please accept my deepest condolences !!

    Like

  33. John Ostrowski says:

    So sorry for your loss, thinking of you.

    Like

  34. Lynn Seeley says:

    So sorry for your loss. Walter and I are sending our love and prayers to you all.

    Like

  35. Gina-Morgan-Clarke says:

    Thinking of you and your family at this time. Take care 💗

    Like

  36. Diane Foster Wainwright says:

    Leigh- Anne let us know this morning. We are both so very sad to hear this news about Alan. Our thoughts are with you & the family. Gone too soon.

    Like

  37. Michelle Walker says:

    So sorry. I’ve let the Club know. Alan King was a beloved member. 😓

    Like

  38. Heather Ramsay says:

    So very sorry to read this Gayle. Thinking of you all at this time, sending love and hugs xx

    Like

  39. Edie Prudames says:

    I am so very sorry. You and your family have my heartfelt condolences. Alan was a lovely sweet man. I thought of him often. Thank you for telling me. So sad.

    Like

  40. Barbara Ostrowski says:

    Our condolences to you and your family! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. 🙏🏻

    Like

  41. Carole Miles says:

    As a fellow member of the Arts and Letters Club, my deepest sympathies to you and your family.

    Like

  42. Barb Gerardo Adams says:

    Oh Gayle, I am so sorry to hear about your brother. Sending condolences to you and your family. ❤️

    Like

  43. Sebastien & Sejin Benoit says:

    Sejin and I are so sorry for your loss! Heartbreaking 😥😥

    Like

  44. Pat Wur says:

    So sorry to hear. May you enjoy the wonderful memories of him in your hearts! ❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼✍🏻✍🏻

    Like

  45. Joanne Chausse says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss.

    Like

  46. Amy McGuire says:

    Sorry to hear about your brother Gayle. Lots of love xxx

    Like

  47. Barb Vipond says:

    Gayle, Gary and Brad, we are so very sorry to hear of your loss. Our deepest condolences to all of you and your family.💕

    Like

  48. Brian King says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. He was a terrific and talented man.

    Like

  49. Verna Philpott says:

    Know how you feel Gayle. So sorry, miss you guys.

    Like

  50. Bev Aikenhead says:

    Thinking of all of you. We are so sorry for your loss.

    Like

Leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s