King Sorensen
King Sorensen

Beloved Atlantic Highlands attorney, Arthur Holmes Sorensen, died on August 26th, 2020. He was the son of Sverre Sorensen, born in Norway in 1912, and Harriette Arthur Dyer Sorensen, born in Freehold in 1915. He was the first grandson on both sides so ended up with the family nickname of “King.” The “Arthur” came from Harriette’s father, Arthur Dyer, and the “Holmes” came from Harriette’s brother, Holmes Murphy Dyer, and from Obediah Holmes, after whom Holmdel is named.

The Sorensen family has resided in Atlantic Highlands for multiple generations and has this beautiful community to thank for bringing Sverre “Sev” and Harriette “Peter” together one summer afternoon in 1937. The two met on the tennis courts that were once on Ocean Boulevard just east of Grand Avenue. The Dyers drove all day from Freehold to spend each summer at their home on Fifth Avenue in Atlantic Highlands. Sev lived full time with his family on Bay Avenue. They married in 1938 and bought the “Spout House.” Located on Belvedere Road, with a view of Sandy Hook, it is one of the oldest homes in Atlantic Highlands. The Spout House has remained in the family all these years and King’s sister Alicia lives there today with her husband, Bill Robertson.

King attended Rumson Country Day School, founded by his cousin, Harriet Clarke, and her husband, Harold. He went to Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts and was valedictorian of his class of 1959. King graduated from Williams College and NYU Law School.

King worked in Atlantic Highlands for 45 years at 98 First Avenue where his father Sev opened a law office in 1953. Debbie Goggins, King’s paralegal of 25 years, said there was never a harsh word uttered in that office. She recalls many memories of his iconic presence in the Atlantic Highlands community. “Anyone who truly knew him would agree that he was a kind and gentle man,” Debbie said. “On many instances, clients would come in and ask about a Will but stating that they could not afford to pay. King would prepare the Wills and not charge the clients. He always wanted to make sure the less fortunate were taken care of. He was a man of great integrity and kindness. He cared deeply about Atlantic Highlands and especially about environmental issues. He will be missed beyond words.”

Over the years, King was a dedicated supporter of many local causes in Atlantic Highlands, frequently opening his office to the Republican Party and also lending his legal mind to land conservation efforts in the borough. King provided pro bono legal services to the Monmouth Conservation Foundation and assisted in protecting from development the following properties: Bayshore Waterfront Park, Popamora Point, many of the parcels that make up Hartshorne Woods and Huber Woods, and also, the properties of the Bowne, Scudder and Gimbel estates.  Most recently, King was an ardent member of Neighbors for Waterfront Preservation, providing wise strategic counsel as the group worked to protect the McConnell property as community open space. He also participated in the Black Lives Matter march this past July, with his daughter Eliza and her family pushing him in his wheelchair. He remarked that he thought this was the first social justice march in the history of the Borough.

King also enjoyed sports in general, and crew in particular, rowing out of Navesink River Rowing in Red Bank. His favorite race was the Head of the Charles in Boston, but he also raced on the Schuylkill, Housatonic, and Connecticut Rivers.

A mountain climber and an adventurer, King climbed Aconcagua (22, 841′), Mt.Blanc (15,774′), Kilimanjaro (19,341′), Cotopazi (19,300′), Chimborazo (20,500′), Mt.Ranier (14,400′) and, with the entire family, Blue Mountain in Jamaica (7,602′). With Leigh, he also trekked to Annapurna base camp in western Nepal (in 1970, the third group ever); to Gokyo Ri (18,000′) in eastern Nepal (2018), and to the pinnacles on the north side of Everest in Tibet (1983).

To climb Annapurna, King drove with his wife Leigh and sister Sandy in an orange VW bug from Germany to Nepal. He was determined to show the mountain climbers of the era that his wife and sister could make the climb. He encouraged the women to wear their hiking boots all over Atlantic Highlands, and especially to walk the steep climbs of Mount Avenue and Hooper Avenue in preparation. He was proud to see his training regimen pay off as his wife and sister reached the basecamp of Annapurna. He went on to climb several other mountains with his daughters.

King also went in the other direction, bungee-jumping 110 meters from the Victoria Falls bridge in Zimbabwe.

He sailed, skied, and played tennis. He was a member and former secretary of North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club. He also belonged to the Seabright Beach Club, the Seabright Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club, and the New York Yacht Club. He was a beekeeper and liked extracting sweet honey and giving it to friends. He was known for his enthusiasm for life and big heart.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Leigh; their 3 daughters, Jenny, Eliza and Meredith and their partners, Chip Giller, Zac Wald and Gene Wixson; and 7 grandchildren, Sophie, Ellis, Spencer, Arden, Sebastian, Jasko Arthur, and Rosie Elizabeth. He is also survived by his sisters, Sandra Henning and Alicia Robertson.

His family and friends gave him a sunrise send-off on the beach on August 28th. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the Monmouth Historical Association. The Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank, was entrusted with the arrangements.

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