One person always happy to meet anyone who comes through Little City’s doors is John King.

John is the epitome of a friendly face, always smiling and happy to see friends (which just happens to be everyone John has ever met). John first came to Little City in 1982 at 23 years old and his joyful energy was evident right away. It did not take him long to find an outlet for his positivity as he quickly became one of the most acclaimed and celebrated artists at Little City’s award-winning Center for the Arts.

Over the years, John’s work — often featuring his signature smiling faces — has been displayed in prestigious galleries and museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore among many others.

His passion for people also led him to be very active in Special Olympics over the years, playing on the basketball team and a gold-medal winning softball team. He also is an avid swimmer and active in as many social groups as he can handle.

But John’s true achievement has been his ability to share his love and compassion with others who, in turn, become more compassionate themselves. Little City residential manager Crystal Valley said in all her years working with John, she has never seen him let frustrations or disappointment get the better of him. He is always the first one to put an arm around someone feeling down and give them the encouragement they need.

“It’s difficult to really capture who John is until you’ve actually experienced being around John,” Crystal said. “Everyone knows about his amazing artwork and all those smiling faces you see really is reflective of who he is. He’s just so uplifting. He’s the sweetest, happiest man I have ever met.”