Two Tributes to Long-Time Hartford Bridge Club Member and Grand Life Master, Victor King
From Frank Merblum:
The passing of our dear friend Victor King...
During the 40 or so years that we have known Victor, it is hard to find any reason not to like him. Not only was he a terrific bridge player, but he was an even better person. He would give you the shirt off of his back and found a way to make the game interesting and informative even to those players not as gifted. He always came to the table with a smile on his face, but this belied how fierce a competitor he was. It was a privilege to play both with and against him at the highest levels. He loved to socialize with his bridge playing friends and his spirit was contagious. He had many interests outside of bridge and was one of the most adventurous people we have ever known – it was not uncommon for him to take his bicycle for a ride around the world. Just before COVID-19 struck the nation, he was preparing for a trip to Peru right after the Spring Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.
It doesn’t seem real that Victor is now gone, but he will never be forgotten. His spirit will live with us forever and we are much better off for knowing him. He made a real difference in this world and his friendship was special to both of us. So let’s not mourn his passing but celebrate his zest for life and try to emulate all of his qualities which made him such a special person.
R.I.P. our dear friend and hope to see you down the road.
From Doug Doub:
Victor and his longtime friend and Middlebury College classmate, Cally Perry were the first two people that I met when I moved to Connecticut more than 40 years ago. We quickly became good friends. He introduced me to the famous IMP game at the Hartford Bridge Club, and was my first partner there, helping me end up my first night plus 144 IMPs, with considerable assistance from my partners and teammates. He found a way to get me into the Aetna squash league, where he was one of the top players. When my daughter, Molly was born, he agreed to be her godfather, and took an active interest in Molly's life. She was thrilled when she managed to double skunk him at cribbage, and I think that although he hated to lose, he took almost as much satisfaction at her obvious delight.
Victor played all kinds of games. Aside from bridge, his favorites were Acquire and Scrabble. Others that I played with him included 9-card setback, cribbage, backgammon, fan tan, barbu, GOPS, poker, O'Hell, and Monopoly.
Victor was an excellent athlete. He cycled all over the world. He was excellent at squash, soccer, and golf. However, one of my favorite stories was one he related to me about playing football. Victor was average height and below average weight, but very quick. He joined a weekend flag football league. One might think that he might be put at safety or cornerback on defense, or as a runner or wide receiver on offense. However, his team needed defensive lineman, so that was where he played. He related to me that one of his opponents told him that he was the best defensive lineman in the league. You see, Victor knew that he could not push through the blockers, so he faked and spun and juked, and did whatever was necessary to elude the offensive lineman and get to the quarterback. Football was not a sport that Victor had played much at all, but his competitive instinct and desire to win pushed him to excel, and he took great pride in that compliment.
Victor was a person who was devoid of predjudice. It did not matter what your age, sex, or race was, if you were a good person, Victor would be your friend. Men are often very competitive, and when forming teams for competition, they nearly always choose other men, viewing them as offering a better chance to win than playing with women. However, Victor chose to play with a woman in a golf doubles league, another in Scrabble tournaments, formed a long time bridge partnership with Sheila Gabay, and was working on another with Karen McCallum.
I was fortunate to be able to play bridge with Victor many times in the last 40 years. We won the first regional pair game we played in NYC, posting a 228 in the opening session. Last March we went to Orange, CT to play in a sectional there. We posted a 76.49% game in the morning, winning easily, but only managed a second place in the afternoon. Not satisfied with second, Victor got a new partner, David Ehler, for the next day, with whom he was able to win in the afternoon, taking his second event. I got to play with him on Sunday in the swiss, but we only managed a second. Still, it was great fun, and I was looking forward to giving it another try at the same tourney at the end of May. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the tourney. Now, we will never get another chance.
There are many. many wonderful memories that Victor has made possible to me and others. My greatest hope is that he has somehow been able to find Molly, and that they are enjoying a game of cribbage together right now. Rest in peace, Victor.
Your friend always,