King, Willis (Deceased)
Willis was born on May 24, 1908, in Fayette County, Ohio. His degrees were from Wilmington College, Ohio (BS degree in education in 1929); Haverford College (MA degree in biology in 1930); and the University of Cincinnati (PhD degree in zoology in 1939). In 1968, North Carolina State University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree. He began to go to the Great Smokies before it was a park, while he was still in college, and became the first wildlife technician for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from 1934 to 1940. He carried out original field studies culminating in A Survey of the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Smoky National Park, and also initiated the park’s first fishery program. During those early years on rainy nights, the red salamander could be seen in floods crossing the roads, but the new road into Cade’s Cove destroyed some of the original wetland and its initial wildlife. He was the first fishery biologist employed by the state of North Carolina, 1941 to 1944, and then was acting director of the Wildlife Resources Commission, 1945 to 1948. He was chief of fish management, Tennessee, 1949 to 1950. In 1951, Willis joined the U.S. Bureau of Sports Fisheries and Wildlife, Branch of Federal Aid, where he helped implement Dingell-Johnson program policies and procedures. He served as assistant regional director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, 1956 to 1957, for both sport and commercial fisheries. Willis returned to Washington in 1957 to head the new branch of fishery management services, Division of Fishery Services, where he developed cooperative programs with Indian tribes, national parks, U.S. Department of Defense, and other federal entities throughout the United States, thereby helping to open many waters to recreational fishing. A highlight was the establishment of Cooperative Fishery Unit program, a joint endeavor with states, 25 universities, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, emphasizing training and research. His last position was assistant director for Cooperative Services, 1970 to 1973, when he was awarded the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Distinguished Service Award in 1971. Willis authored more than 30 publications dealing with fishery management, herpetology, and environmental subjects; was principal author of a special report of Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, Sport Fishing, Today and Tomorrow, 1962; and edited Wild Trout Management, 1975 (Symposium I), 1980 (Symposium II). Willis was active in the American Fisheries Society throughout his career. Willis was elected to the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1974 and was active until his death on June 5, 1998.