Story by Liesel Schmidt
A woman who celebrated life and tirelessly rose to challenges, pushing past barriers to achieve her goals, Florence King was an inspiration to those who knew her and an example to her community. Since her passing on December 9, 2021, King's life has become even more important as an example to us all.
The descendant of a freed slave from George Washington’s plantation, King was born on March 2, 1947, in Franconia, Virginia, as one of 10 children. A native of Fairfax County, King received a degree in sociology and business administration from George Mason University, going on to work with the federal government for nearly two decades at the Army National Guard Personnel Center at the Pentagon, where she was recognized with the Meritorious Services award and promoted as Chief of the Military Personnel Records Branch. She later went on to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where she became highly qualified in recruitment, qualification analysis, selection and placement. Following her government service, she served as VP of Administration for the accounting firm of Gregory K. Washington, CPA, and later worked at Equifax, Inc., where she developed expertise in credit services.
"I think she set an example to others to become involved in the community in which you live. She showed that everyone who wants to have a voice can make a change." - Brenda Alford
Utilizing this expertise, she founded FMK Credit Services in 1991, specializing in budget analysis, financial management, tax preparation and credit restoration. Over the next 14 years, King served as President and CEO until the company’s sale in 2005. A strong supporter of education, she was inspired to establish the FMK Credit Education Center to educate consumers on financial practices and credit issues. In 2016, she started the FMK Financial Literacy Center, where disadvantaged families and senior citizens could seek assistance in improving their financial stability through self-reliance and homeownership.
During her spare time, King contributed to community causes and was chair of the regional council of the United Way, chair of the Alexandria Employment Commission, on the board of trustees for the Alexandria Symphony and was vice chair on the board of Agenda Alexandria. Reflective of her passion for education and the preservation of Black history, she served on the board of directors for the Laurel Grove School Association, an organization which maintains the historic Laurel Grove Colored School schoolhouse that operated in Franconia, Virginia, until the 1930s. She also sat on the board of the Luther Jackson High School Alumni Association, Inc., which provides scholarships to descendants of Luther Jackson High School alumni in the years prior to desegregation.
A member of McLean Bible Church for more than 20 years, King was deeply devoted to her faith and her fellow congregants, serving as a member of the church’s Financial Counseling Team to provide them with her experienced financial guidance and unwavering integrity. Additionally, King’s devoted public service included her 25-year service as an Alexandria City Elections Officer as well as a 15-year tenure as vice chair of the Alexandria Historical Resources Commission. She also served as Chairwoman of the City's Commission on Employment and on the Alexandria Freedman's Cemetery Steering Committee, as vice chair of Agenda: Alexandria, as well as VP of the Northern Virginia Urban League Guild and held active membership as part of Living Legends of Alexandria since 2018, when she was elected.
“Her recognition as an Alexandria Living Legend in 2018 was a high honor and so well-deserved,” says the Honorable Allison Silberberg, Former Mayor of Alexandria. “I knew Florence for over a decade and always admired her natural leadership skills as well as her ability to make people feel comfortable, whether in meetings or social settings. She had a special exuberance, a big heart and a strong dedication to Alexandria. Plus, she was so much fun! I think her biggest impact on the community was her volunteer commitment to ensuring financial literacy and stability for our disadvantaged families and seniors. This was an unmet need that she recognized in our community and she decided she could help. Her business skills gave her the knowledge and opportunity to create programs to help residents learn the skills needed to create more financial stability for themselves and their families. She was also deeply involved with numerous causes in our city.”
“I think she set an example to others to become involved in the community in which you live. She showed that everyone who wants to have a voice can make a change,” says close friend, Brenda Alford. “Citizen involvement was near and dear to her and I think a citizen involvement program should be created in her name with an active outreach to involve larger numbers of citizens on boards and commissions and other volunteer services, offering an annual award for people with outstanding accomplishments.”
“I admired her convictions,” offers Janet Powers. “She gave of herself fully, serving on many Alexandria boards, commissions, committees—too numerous to mention.”
King’s love of Alexandria compelled her to pursue a seat on the Alexandria City Council in 2021, though she did not win election to the seat. It was only months later that King became ill. With her unexpected passing, she left behind her three children and a legacy that will never be forgotten.