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Danica Anne King was born to James and Marietta King at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico on March 1st, 1967. She was diagnosed with severe autism, and within just a few years she was in the daily care of a mental hospital, where she was routinely in the lives of her parents and her new siblings through the 1970s and 1980s. Her father James was the closest to Danica, visiting her the most and creating the strongest of parental bonds. Danica followed the rest of the family across the country from Texas to Virginia and in 1979, to California, taking residence at Camarillo State Hospital, about an hour northwest of the San Fernando Valley. In preparation for the closing of the mental hospital in 1997, Danica moved to Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona, California, where she lived for over a decade.
When James King passed in February of 1998, Danica's brother, Terry, became her conservator for the remaining 23 years of her life. When Terry lived in Las Vegas and Santa Barbara, he would visit her routinely, cultivating a relationship with her that he felt was a poor substitute for the father she missed. Terry believed he reminded her somehow of him, just a very poor copy.
Upon the closing of Lanterman Developmental Center, there was the opportunity to move Danica to San Diego and in 2012, she was moved to San Diego be closer to him for the last 7 years of her life.
Danica enjoyed a number of caregivers and patients over the course of her life, having her favorites and everyone knowing when they were or were not a favorite. She enjoyed strolls, naps, specific blankets, the color purple, and carbohydrates. Non-verbal her whole life, she communicated happiness and--at times--her unhappiness to those around her. Those who cared to her often developed great affection for Danica and the spirit and blooming personality percolating under the layers of her disability.
Dani--as her father and brother often called her--passed away on July 6th, 2019 from complications from pneumonia, with Terry at her bedside. She leaves behind her brother Terry and her sisters Dorelie, Verena, and Deanna, as well as the caregivers--past and present--who discovered love for her. To many of us who cared for Danica, knowing her made us better people within the throes of humanity's trivial pursuits. In memoriam, we carry her legacy of soul purity.
Donations can be made in Danica's memory to: National Foundation for Autism Research, PO BOX 502177 San Diego, CA 92150. Online donations can be made at www.NFAR.org.