King, popular EC pediatrician, has retirement send-off – The Daily Advance

Dr. Kathryn Jones King celebrated her retirement after 29 years in pediatrics Saturday with friends and colleagues and by holding and enjoying the company of a former client’s baby.

Last month, Jones, 62, stepped aside for good from her practice at Children First Pediatrics, after a career in private and public practice which began in 1988 in the Harbor of Hospitality. Except for a short time in New Bern, all of her professional career was spent here.

Jones was honored with a gathering at the Port Discover science center downtown, which she continues to support. Attendees had kind words for King.

Among them was Andrew Ditty, an Army veteran, and a current a stay-at-home father with a son, Nicholas, 2, and a daughter, Anna, who is nine months old. His wife is in the Navy, working as a meteorologist in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area.

Both of the Ditty children were under King’s care right after birth. Anna was in King’s arms at Saturday’s celebration. Asked what King was like, Andrew Ditty said, “She was very good.”

“She has been very informative, very matter-of-fact. She has helped me not only take care of my children but also teach me as father what’s best for my kids,” he said.

Amy Underhill, a health educator with the Pasquotank Health Department, recalled working on many programs together with King, gathering information and material for her clients at the health department.

“She was really fun to work with – and she has a passion for the children, which was certainly very easy to see,” Underhill said. “She was always putting the patient first – and that’s certainly something that I looked for when it was time for me to have my own child,” referring to a daughter, Camryn, 8, standing at her side on Saturday.

“I am going to miss being able to have that personal connection with her,” Underhill said. “She was always willing to go above and beyond.”

King’s husband, Rudge King, 58, an accountant, described his wife as “wide open” and someone who loves children. He said she “does it for the kids – and not the money.”

“I’ve always loved babies,” Jones said, also noting she likes plants, kittens, puppies and ducklings. “I like new stuff.”

Though retiring, Jones does not want to be away from babies in the long term. “I’m hoping I can still see kids at church,” said King, who is an Episcopalian and who noted a vacation Bible school pamphlet on a table.

Born in Enid, Okla., her family ended up in Asheville after her father retired from military service and went to work for the Social Security Administration. Both of her parents are from the western part of the state. After attending Appalachian State University, where she received a master’s degree in biology, she taught physics and chemistry at a school in Spartanburg, S.C.

As for why she switched careers, she said, “I thought God wanted me to do something different.” At the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, an admissions representative advised King to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). She did, and it was on to a medical profession.

One of King’s brothers, Dr. Richard Jones, is an OBGYN in Texas, and she recalled obstetrics was the first elective she took while in medical school. She said she thought she would see whether she would like that specific field. She said if the answer was yes, then her brother wanted her to work with him.

With a smile, she recalled, “I really didn’t like the pregnant women as much as I liked the babies.”

After moving to Elizabeth City, she worked in the private sector but switch to the Pasquotank Health Department and worked a stint there for about a dozen years before opening Children First Pediatrics.

In a Daily Advance story published in January 2012 announcing she had opened up Children First, she proclaimed, “I am the pediatrician’s pediatrician.”

Asked on Saturday afternoon what she believes makes a good pediatrician, she said, “Just listening to the mothers. If you ask the right questions, the mothers will tell you everything.”

As for what she would recommend to anyone aspiring to be a pediatrician, she said, “Eat your Wheaties.”

“It’s hard work, but it’s very rewarding,” she said.

King said she wants to travel now, including to Atlanta to see her mother Ruby, now 93 years old, to Texas to see a brother and to Connecticut to see her other two brothers.

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