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Leonard siblings celebrate long lives together



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Leonard natives Clarence King (from left), Mary Sue (King) Sutherby and Alaminta Frances (King) Bevington gathered Saturday to celebrate their birthdays. They're all nonagenarians, people who are between the ages of 90 and 99. Photo submitted. (click for larger version)
October 23, 2013 - Three Leonard natives and siblings who's combined age is approaching three centuries gathered in Troy Saturday to celebrate their birthdays together.

Alaminta Frances (King) Bevington, who turned 90 on Oct. 19, Clarence H. King, who turned 93 in September, and Mary Sue (King) Sutherby, who will turn 95 in November, gathered with their family members to celebrate their longevity, share fond memories and enjoy each other's company.

According to Leonard resident Char Sutherby, the daughter-in-law of Mary Sue, this was the first time these three nonagenarians – people who are between the ages of 90 and 99 – have gotten together in about 10 years.

The siblings came to Leonard in 1934 with their parents, Carrie and George King, who had a total of six children.

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Mary Sue, Clarence and Alaminta are the oldest of the six King children. The three younger siblings are deceased.

Mary Sue is the oldest. She married John Sutherby at the age of 16 and went on to have three children – Richard, Dan and Verna.

When the children were older, Mary Sue finished her high school education via a correspondence course and went on to receive her associate's degree from Oakland Community College.

Fondly remembered by many as a wonderful cook, Mary Sue prepared meals at the Leonard School, which started out as a high school and later became an elementary school, for more than 30 years.

Her husband John was a custodian at the school and was one of the original 13 members of the Addison Township Fire Department founded in 1949. He was fire chief when he passed away in 1972.

Mary Sue lived most of her life in Leonard until age and health issues required her to go live with her daughter in Troy over the last year.

Clarence, who lives in Trenton, is the second oldest of the King children.

Leonard was even more of a rural town when Clarence was growing up. He still recalls walking the family cow to town from the farm on Romeo Plank Rd.

Once a production company came to Leonard to film a commercial for Chrysler cars. When a local farmer rode into town with a team of horses, they got spooked because they weren't used to the noise of automobiles. The horses took off running through the commercial. Clarence remembers all this because he got the horses back for the farmer.

Clarence received two diplomas from local schools – one from the Leonard School because it only went up to the 10th grade and another from Oxford High School after finishing the 12th grade in 1938.

He served in the European Theater during World War II as part of the 398th Bomb Group, 603rd Squad.

He was a copilot flying B-17 bombers and rose to the rank of first lieutenant.

Clarence met his wife, Millie, at Detroit's Deaconess Hospital in 1942. He was there to have a hernia operation so the military would accept him. She was there working as a student nurse.

They were married in January 1944.

He began working for Chrysler in October 1940 and resumed his job there after his military service was complete. He retired in June 1974.

It was during his time at Chrysler that Clarence learned how to fly.

Prior to the war, a group of employees formed a flying club and bought a Taylorcraft airplane. He joined and took to the sky.

The club eventually broke up and the plane was sold. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor the next day.

Clarence has five children – Bruce, Bryan, Patrice, Janet and Gail. He also has eight grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.

Alaminta, who lives in Waterford, was the third oldest child of the Kings. Like her brother Clarence, she graduated from the Leonard School and then from Oxford High School in 1941.

She continued her education at the Pontiac Business Institute.

Her education earned her a job as a foreman's clerk at GMC Truck and Coach.

Alaminta joined the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in 1945, serving as a receptionist in the obstetrics department. She helped take care of servicemen's pregnant wives.

While stationed in Spokane, Washington, Alaminta met and married Beecher (Bud) Bevington.

After they were discharged, they moved to Pontiac and had two children – Frank and Donna. They were married until Bud's death in 1968.

Alaminta worked as a bookkeeper at Donelson, Johns & Evans Funeral Home in Waterford for 25 years.

After she retired, she spent 15 years as a volunteer tutor, helping second-graders improve their reading skills.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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