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Remembering California Pioneer, Celes King IV

Celes King IV

Celes King IV

On Saturday, March 15th, 2014, well known community leader, political and civil rights activist, Celes King IV, passed away by heart failure in San Diego.  He was surrounded by family and close friends.

Celes King IV was born in Los Angeles on October 19th, 1943, the first born of legendary Civil Rights leader and Bail Bondsman to the stars, General Celes King III, and Anita Lugo King, internationally respected, delegate to the UN World Conference on the Rights of Women.   As a youth he drove for his father and mother and in this capacity with his sister Teri he was able to participate in their parents hosting of prominent figures from around the world.  After attending Antioch College, Celes IV left the family business, set out on his own and managed several businesses throughout the country before returning to participate in the multi generational family business built around the Celes King Bail Bond companies.  After his return to the fold, the family suffered the loss of both parents and Celes IV then joined with his sister Teri who managed administration of the Bail Bond business internally with Celes IV handling the expediting of external affairs.

It was in this phase that Celes developed into a very effective lobbyist in the course of advocating for several organizations throughout the state including most notably the Congress of Racial Equality of California which had been founded by his father General Celes King, a veteran of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.  Celes IV quickly became a popular and effective operative in the halls of government in both Los Angeles and Sacramento.  He was significantly able to work on both sides of the aisle, relentlessly advocating on behalf of the underserved communities.  Fellow directors of the CORE-CA Board and family recalled Celes frequently saying that his role in Sacramento was to “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

With characteristic determination Celes founded the Family Foundation named after his parents Anita Lugo King and Celes King III.  He was also President and CEO of the King Central Self Development Foundation, The Phoenix Alliance and served on several Boards including the California Black Chamber of Commerce,  Advisory Board of Pacific Oaks College, and the Lillian Mobley Black Health and Education Task Force.

Celes was appointed by, CORE-CA and Kingdom Day Parade Chairman Adrian Dove, to proudly serve as CORE-CA Vice Chairman for Legislative Liaison, Education Policy and the Legal Defense Committees, where despite increasing health challenges he worked relentlessly and effectively on behalf of the community. throughout the state.

It was his close to the family collaborator Dove, who observed that, “Celes IV, the oldest son of a great man was driven to succeed far beyond any ordinary standards in order to righteously fill his father’s shoes by carrying forth the family legacy and taking it even to an extra step forward in every project he undertook.  We are thrilled to now to have witnessed Celes having succeeded”.  His ultimate focus has always been community and family.  His parents’ family motto, “Success is one step behind where you stop.”

Celes King IV, or “Uncle Mike” as children of the family and close friends sometimes refer to him, leaves behind his brother, Tobi, sister Teri, Significant Other Diane Merrifield, First Wife and lifetime friend Ilene, as well as his six children, and six grandchildren.

Services for Celes King, IV will be held March 29th. 11:00 a.m at Angeles Mesa Presbyterian Church, 3751 West 54th Street, Los Angeles 90043.


Preceded in transition by his; Father Celes King III, Mother Anita Lugo King, and Sister Toni King.

Succeeded by: Sister Teri King; Brother Toby King & Wife Terrie; Significant Other: Diane Merrifield, First Wife, lifetime friend and mother of his children; Children: Darcie, Derek, Dana, Danny, Leontyne; Three Nieces and Nephews: Tyia, Tyie, Tyona; Eight Grandchildren; Eight Grand Nieces and Nephews; and a host of friends.

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