NORTHUMBERLAND — State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball on Thursday paid tribute to Edgar A. King, a former deputy state agriculture commissioner who was also involved in town government and operated one of the largest dairy farmers in Saratoga County.

“I am saddened by the loss of Edgar King, who was a tireless public servant, dedicated farmer and family man, and a true friend,” Ball said in a statement. “Edgar served as Deputy Commissioner with our Department under Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo, working to promote New York’s farmers and dairy industry and strengthen our state’s agricultural economy. We follow in his footsteps every day as we continue his work to move New York agriculture forward.”

King, 81, who owned Kings-Ranson Farm in the Northumberland hamlet of Bacon Hill, died last Sunday after a long illness.

Having been born into a local dairy family, graduated from Cornell University’s agriculture school and built the family farm into one of the largest in the region, King was active on both state and national dairy industry boards, and in local promotion of dairy farming.

“Edgar has been a great leader in the dairy industry, and I have long admired his work ethic, spirit, and passion for our shared industry,” Ball said. “King Brothers Dairy has over the years become a staple of the community and exemplifies the very best of New York dairy. Edgar undoubtedly had a tremendous impact on New York agriculture, and he will be deeply missed. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family.”

In addition to serving as a deputy state agriculture commissioner from 1976 to 1987, King — a Democrat in a traditionally Republican town — served as Northumberland town supervisor from 1992 to 2003, leading a lengthy though ultimately unsuccessful fight to keep Saratoga County from building a landfill on former farmland.

“He was a great leader and community public servant, and led a great life,” said nephew Bill Peck, a neighboring dairy farmer and the current Northumberland town supervisor. “I saw him as a role model, someone who always stood up for what he thought was right. Walking into his shoes was a tall task. When he thought he was doing the right thing, he would stand and fight for it.”

Two of King’s sons took over daily operation of the farm more than a decade ago, started King Brothers’ Dairy, and they continued to expand it, with Edgar King’s active assistance. They expanded into on-site dairy processing and regional delivery, and started an on-farm ice cream stand, where King could often be found through last summer.

“The ice cream stand was like heaven for him,” Peck said. “People would come in and he could just hold court.”

A wake was held Thursday afternoon at Flynn Bros., Inc. Funeral Home in Schuylerville. A private funeral service for family will be held at 10 a.m Friday, Feb. 26, at the funeral home with COVID-19 protocols to be followed, and a funeral service at the Bacon Hill Reformed Church will be broadcast on Zoom at 11 a.m.

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