Pam and John F. King

John F. King, pictured with his late wife Pam, joined the USC Board of Trustees in 1981. (Photo/Courtesy of the King family)


In memoriam: USC Life Trustee John F. King, 91, financial industry leader and homelessness-services advocate

The USC Marshall alumnus also led the Weingart Center, a nonprofit that provides comprehensive homelessness services in downtown Los Angeles.

March 29, 2024 By Eric Lindberg

Longtime USC Trustee and alumnus John F. King, a titan of the financial services and banking industry who later led the nonprofit Weingart Center Association, died March 18 in Pasadena. He was 91.

Known for his leadership as chairman and CEO of World Trade Bank, King held numerous positions in banking and finance throughout his decadeslong career. He also served as president and CEO of the Weingart Center, a nonprofit that provides comprehensive homelessness services to individuals living on the streets of downtown Los Angeles.

King earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the USC Marshall School of Business in 1958 and served as a USC trustee since 1981.

“John King faithfully supported and guided our Trojan community for more than 65 years,” USC President Carol Folt said. “Civic-minded and compassionate, he touched the lives of many Californians as a business leader — and as a humanitarian dedicated to the well-being of the most vulnerable. We will always remember John’s caring spirit.”

“John was a dedicated Trojan whose care and dedication for his community were remarkable,” USC Board of Trustees Chair Suzanne Nora Johnson said. “He was a close friend and colleague to many members of our board, and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”

In addition to his long-standing service on the USC Board of Trustees, King chaired his reunion committee’s class gift efforts to mark its 50th anniversary in 2008. His guidance ensured that the Class of ’58 achieved its goal of raising $100,000 toward the President’s Dining Room in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. He also helped expand the class gift initiative, enabling the committee to raise an additional $65,000 to support the Widney Alumni House.

John F. King’s finance industry career

A native of Chicago, King earned his master’s degree in finance from New York University after completing his undergraduate studies at USC. For two decades, he worked for Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. in New York City.

In 1975, King took a position with First Interstate Bank of California. Five years later, he became president and chief operating officer, then chairman of the bank in 1985.

After a brief stint as vice chairman and director of Crocker National Corp. and Crocker National Bank, he joined World Trade Bank in 1987 as chairman and CEO. King recognized the potential for growth in the Pacific Rim, particularly among small and medium-sized businesses, as reflected in a New York Times article announcing his new role.

“The way the world economy is growing, you have to look to the Far East,” he told the newspaper, adding, “There’s tremendous opportunities to grow. It’s a chance to build something myself.”

In addition to his work with World Trade Bank, King held a variety of other leadership positions in finance and industry, including senior advisor to Union Bank of Switzerland, director of Kilroy Realty Finance Inc. and director of Ameron International Corp., a multinational manufacturer of products and materials in the industrial, transportation and energy sectors.

John F. King: Giving back

King also served as a trustee of the California Hospital Medical Center Foundation, director of the National Institute of Transplantation Foundation and founding chair of Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena.

In 1996, he joined the Weingart Center as president and CEO. The nonprofit association seeks to break the cycle of homelessness by providing resources and hope to individuals living in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. The agency provides transitional housing and community-based programs that include wraparound services such as case management, treatment for substance use, and medical and mental health support.

King’s family also followed his example of service. “We enjoyed helping others, and were always volunteering in different ways,” said his daughter Tamra King MFA ’90. “My mom and dad instilled that civic-mindedness in us, that sense of, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’”

In the early 2000s, King helped oversee development of a new adult employment and education center in collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District. The $2.3 million project on San Pedro Street established free access to math, English, reading and computer classes, as well as vocational training programs. The center also housed the Weingart Center’s Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty and offered job-placement support.

“If we can get homeless people some basic education and strengthen the skills of workers so they don’t slip back into joblessness and homelessness, then we might be able to make a difference,” King said in a Los Angeles Times article.

King’s wife, Pam, died in 2020. He is survived by his four children, Tamra King, Janine Boyle ’88, Kristin Kassabian ’94 and John Jr. MBA ’03, and seven grandchildren, Lauren, Spencer and Connor Boyle; Thomas King; and Jack, Elizabeth and Charlie Kassabian.