Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Mike Knight: 1951-2024

Posted By on Tue, Jul 9, 2024 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge mike_celebration_of_life_invitation_.jpg
Sadly, a kind and good husband, father, brother, uncle, cousin, friend and neighbor, Mike Knight, died of pancreatic cancer at home Jan. 12, at age 72.

Wishing he could still be with us, we are left with a new way of living with him through our memories.

Mike was born on Feb. 3, 1951, in Yokohama, Japan to his British-American mother, Peggy Knight and his father, Philip Knight, also known as “the Colonel” or “Stormy,” and his sisters, Judy and Chris. As a boy, Mike lived with his family in several locations, where they developed a family of friends, leading to his dad’s itinerary-driven cross-country summer vacation trips to visit them. Mike often spoke of these trips, his reverence for D.C., the beautiful South, the architecture on the East Coast and the joy of being with friends and family.

While in sixth grade, Mike’s family moved to what his dad called “Sunny California” in Eureka where he dropped off Mike and friends at the Samoa Dunes while only wearing swim trunks with a towel in hand during a normal summer of teeth-chattering, mile-thick Humboldt fog and a 50-degree ocean. On other adventures, he and his friends discovered how to disappear on bicycles in deep and dark gullies surrounded by redwoods and thick ferns at Sequoia Park, followed by visits to the park’s zoo, where they dodged what Bill the chimp threw at them. In 1964, during a thousand year flood, by some miracle, he and his family were able to fly to Oregon to see his sister, Judy Howe for the last time — a dramatic event he would never forget.

By the time Mike and Ann met, he was a roofer and skilled carpenter. They met while in line in the hardware section of Sears in the old Eureka Mall. Ann was buying a part for her commuter bike, and Mike was buying a part for a toilet at a house he was restoring. Finding it attractive that his socks didn’t match and he had a nice beard, she asked if he knew of any good swimming holes. He asked her if she played tennis. The next day they played tennis, followed by a swim at Goat Rock on the Van Duzen River. They were together ever since, eventually getting married for free by a minister who had lost a set of tennis on a bet with Mike. On the early morning of their wedding on June 18, 1976, Mike saved picnic tables at the Lumber Mill’s public park in Korbel. Ann wore a borrowed wedding dress that went perfectly with her bare feet and Mike wore a rented vintage tuxedo with buttercups in place of missing buttons. They were married under redwoods and near a creek surrounded by family and friends.

Three children were to follow, which became Mike and Ann’s No. 1 priority in life. The children assisted them with the care of and harvesting of several gardens and fruit trees that Mike had planted, which was much of the family’s food source, along with local berries for pies, and fish caught in the Trinity River and Shasta Lake. Led by Mike, all family summer vacations included camping, swimming and fishing in creeks, rivers, lakes and the ocean. As the children grew, Mike took the family rafting on rivers and water skiing on lakes. He made it possible for the most joyous times as a family during those vacations and day trips.

Mike was a gifted carpenter, using his talents daily at home and work. He started his career in roofing and construction. Later he became a building contractor, building inspector, building official, public works director, park and zoo manager, harbor master and assistant city manager. On his own time, he helped elders with clean ups and pruning for accessibility on sidewalks, gave personal instruction on weekends to prevent failed building inspections and mediated disputes among neighbors. On his own dime he brought coffee and bagels to unhoused people in tents in the city parking lot during their protest for fair housing. He helped Open Door Community Health Clinic in Eureka open on time and not lose money by closing only one section of the building that would not have passed inspection on time. He landed grants for a playground, skatepark, safe routes to schools, city trees, a community garden and a bike and walking trail. He saved cities money and time for staff and clients by hiring a company to install technology that automated paper files and connected all city departments, including the fire department for faster responses to emergencies. He believed that success came from teamwork. He gave credit to staff, city council members, groups such as Green Wheels and ADA advocates, and others who worked on these projects.

In retirement, Mike enjoyed swimming daily and tending to his abundant garden. He especially loved being closer to his children and grandchildren, including being regularly involved in their lives. He continued to appreciate the talents and skills of others, no matter their gender, sexual identity, race, disability, national origin, social class or politics. Extremism was rough on him, yet he treated everyone fairly.

Mike didn’t say it often enough, but he adored his family, friends, and neighbors more than you would ever know. He leaves behind: his wife of nearly 50 years, Ann Knight of Chico, California; his daughter and son-in-law, Nicole and Duncan Drummond of Chico; his son and daughter-in-law, Jon Knight and Ashley Martin of Redding; his son, Ryan Knight of Austin, Texas; his grandchildren, Leif and Mica Drummond, and Rory and Cole Knight; his sister and brother-in-law, Chris and John Pyle of Linden, California; his nephew, James Lewis and family of Star, Idaho; his cousin, Barry Babcock of Ojai, California; his niece, Nora Howe Rounsville and family of Portland, Oregon; his niece, Tina Birmingham and family of Baker City, Oregon; his many cousins from the very large Knight family; Ann’s mother and siblings and their families; and many friends, neighbors and former colleagues.

Mike's celebration of life will be held from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, July 13, at the lower room of the Wharfinger building located at 1 Marina Way, Eureka, California. A circle of remembrance of Mike is planned at 10:30 a.m. outside, weather pending. The event is casual, just as Mike would prefer, but dress as you please. All who cared for Mike are invited to join his family in celebration of his life.
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