Obituary – Thomas Alexander McKnight, Sr.

Published 4:27 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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Thomas Alexander McKnight, Sr. passed away on Feb. 13 at his home in Chesapeake, Virginia. Born in Dayton on Nov. 15, 1942, he was preceded in death by his cherished parents, Miriam Louise Gaines McKnight and Stewart Davidson McKnight, Sr.

He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Maureen Christina Glynn McKnight (Chris), his sons William Scott McKnight, wife Jordan and grandson Robert McKnight of Vilas, N.C, Thomas Alexander McKnight, Jr., wife Katherine and grandchildren Lawson, Alice and Adams of Birmingham, and Jonathan Claiborne Hamlet and wife Rachel Sharrow of Washington, D.C. He is also survived by three very close brothers and sisters-in-law Stewart Davidson and Corra McKnight of Alexandria, Virginia, Williams Gaines and Sonja McKnight of Montgomery, AL and Clifton Weatherby and Martha McKnight of Dayton. Tom’s memory is cherished by many nieces and nephews, great nieces, and great nephews.

Tom grew up on the family farm in Dayton, working there when he was not attending the Thomaston Schools of Marengo County. Tom graduated from Thomaston High School, class of 1961 as a 4-sport athlete. He graduated from Livingston College, then served in the U.S. Navy from 1966-70 as Quartermaster of the U.S.S. Dahlgren, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Tom enjoyed the ports around the world that he was able to visit during his service. Travel was a favorite activity for Tom. After leaving the U.S. Navy, he joined Union Carbide, which became Viskase Corporation, as a Technical Advisor and traveled the east coast, making friends with many business associates throughout 34 years until his retirement in 2009. 

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Memories of happy times, as told by Tom, include sports and the good friends he made playing football, baseball, basketball and track. He particularly loved working on the family farm, but hunting and fishing with friends there were his true passions. Teaching his children and grandchildren these outdoor activities is a legacy they cherish, along with cooking, grilling, gardening, camping, sports and showing them how to live a life well. 

While living in Chesapeake, Tom explored local waters with his friends and fishing partners of 35 years, Wendy and Ellis Maxey, very often returning with a plentiful catch. Tom’s skill as a grill master was appreciated far and wide as he prepared food for his family and to share with others. The best times for Chris and Tom were meeting friends to celebrate life and show them how to dance! Vacations at the Outer Banks Beach Club held a special place in Tom’s memories. After many trips to distant mountain ranges, his favorite range was the Pyrenees. On Caribbean trips, he loved Tortola, St. Maarten, and St. Lucia. In 2011, following a tornado, Tom, with the excellent construction team led by Reverend Clark, renovated his Quail Ridge Lodge in Dayton into a fine camp house for the McKnight family and other friends to use while enjoying the McKnight properties.

Thomas McKnight is known for his good heart, fine character, inner strength, steadfastness, fidelity, patience and wisdom concerning life. As a husband, he was a loving, supportive pillar of strength. Teaching others to appreciate what they have and to use their abilities to benefit the environment is his heritage. During his 15 months as a cancer patient, his endurance and positive attitude were incredible. He was able to build strength to walk about and was seen walking on trails with his Rollator. 

The McKnight family wishes to express deep gratitude for the many friends, family and neighbors who contributed kindnesses to Tom’s well-being during his journey. They kept him in good spirits through the intense challenges of the last year. Chiffon Pruitt provided gracious care and cherished friendship. The Trinity Hospice nurses, and other employees lovingly supported his health needs. Many thanks to all. For a final year, Tom was able to enjoy reminiscing about a truly beautiful and productive life well spent. His last sentence was “I prayed for God’s wisdom and blessings.” The misery is no more.  He is irreplaceable. Our memories of dear Tom will forever endure in our hearts.  “The strife is o’er, the battle done.” 

A Celebration of Life Service will be held at Dayton Methodist Church in Dayton, Alabama on Sunday, March 3 at 1 p.m., officiated by Reverend George McKee, a lifelong friend of the McKnight family. Burial will follow in Dayton Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Dayton Methodist Church (Building or General fund), C/O Clifton McKnight, 27371 Alabama Highway 25, Faunsdale 36738.

A Virginia Celebration of Life Service was held Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. at Green Acres Presbyterian Church, 3135 Hanley Avenue, Portsmouth, Virginia 23703. A recording is available on the Facebook page of Green Acres Presbyterian Church, Portsmouth, Virginia.