LAWRENCEVILLE - After 50 years in the business world and with her office now officially cleared out, Primerica's Barbara King is calling it quits.
"I'm 69 years old and have had some pretty serious heart problems and I just needed to go home," King said. "It's just time. I'm going to miss the people terribly. I'm one of the very few people that hates to leave my company and the people because I've enjoyed my work so much."
King is no stranger to Gwinnett County, metropolitan Atlanta or the national business scene. She's testified as a business expert in front of both houses of Congress and in 1980 went to work for A.L. Williams and Associates. In 1987, she was elected to the board where she served as senior executive vice president in charge of public relations, media management and investor relations, thus becoming one of the highest-ranking women in the industry.
"I always acted like I belonged there and felt like I did a good job," she said. "And being professional was always my focus. Business is business and I always kept it that way. There were many times when I was the only woman at the table and I knew they didn't want me there, but I never thought about that and usually gained respect right away."
Besides her professional business achievements, King was also a big participant in community affairs. Her civic duties included memberships on several boards including the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, the Gwinnett Philharmonic, the Georgia Council on Economic Education, Gwinnett Technical College and Annandale Village. She also serves as vice chairman of education on the board for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. And if that wasn't enough, she's also a huge advocate for the mentally disabled and for 30 years worked on behalf of people with Down syndrome because her own sister had it.
"When my sister was born, nothing was available for them," she said. "With my parents we started group homes and in volunteering I tried to do things that gave them meanings in their lives and I'm very proud of that work," she said. "It was so rewarding working with them."
As for her plans for retirement, King said she's looking forward to traveling with her husband and waking up without any plan for the coming day.
"For 50 years I've had plans," she said. "I'm just going to be happy to get up and do what I want to do. And I'm only retiring," she said. "I'm not going away."