Wednesday, February 11, 2015
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments will be served.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
1500 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 200
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Jack Knight was a man of his generation. He lived through the Great Depression and knew well the value of hard work. He was from a time when a handshake sealed a man's word and gladly shared his time and talents for the benefit of others. With his pleasant personality, young and old alike were naturally drawn to Jack's kind and friendly nature. Above all, he was a dedicated and devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend to all who knew him.
Marked by a time of prosperity, the year 1927 was filled with the excitement of the Roaring Twenties. News of the day was the hero’s welcome given to Charles Lindbergh following his historic, transatlantic solo flight, and the completion of Mount Rushmore was talk of the town. On December 7, Jack was born to E.L. "Danny" and Florence (Creagan) Knight in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Jack was raised in nearby Decatur, the fifth of seven children. He grew up alongside his four sisters and two brothers. His father worked on the railroad and owned a sporting goods store, and his mother was a homemaker. Like many families during the Depression, they experienced tough times. Jack attended the Decatur area schools and did well in his studies. He experienced many adventures and was a practical joker.
During his youth, Jack was very interested in electronics and later developed a great interest in cars and mechanicals in general. One time he rolled his car, then cut the top off, so his parents would not find out, telling them he wanted a convertible. At 5'2", Jack was too short for football, but swam and played tennis. He didn't get much taller until his senior year when he graduated in 1945 from Decatur High School. Jack went on to attend Michigan State College, where he studied mechanical engineering and was also on the swim team there.
At the age of 22 Jack began his own investment club. With great interest in these endeavors, he was very wise in this arena his entire life. Although fun-loving, Jack was a responsible fellow. When his father fell ill, Jack left his Michigan State and sought employment to help support his family.
Soon Jack met his future wife, Elaine. She was a nurse and was home in Decatur helping to care for her brother, who had polio. It was the early fifties, and they met at the drug store over cokes. They connected, and after dating for several years, fell in love. They were married in a ceremony held in the rectory at Holy Family Church on August 21, 1954. For their honeymoon they traveled up north, taking in the sights of the entire west coast of the Upper Peninsula which made for memorable times.
The couple settled in Decatur and to support his new bride, Jack continued working at Krum's Auto Dealership as a mechanic. Later, he began working as a claims adjuster for Transamerica Insurance Company. Elaine continued her career as an RN, and in 1956 they welcomed the birth of their first daughter, Annette. Ellen was born three years later and completed their family. Both Jack and Elaine worked hard to make a good home for their girls. Although there were few vacations, they well made up for it with treasured times spent as family. Along with his work at Transamerica, Jack also served as a volunteer for the Decatur Fire department. He had a love for photography and took many photos of Decatur and community highlights, including weddings and sporting events.
In time, Jack was transferred to Columbus, Ohio, where he and his family lived for the next 11 months. In 1967 they moved back to Michigan, settling in Kalamazoo. There they began building a home on Westview. To cut costs, Jack was very involved in building their home, just as he wanted it. It would remain Jack's home for the rest of his days.
Jack very much liked his work. He was great with numbers, and eventually, became a claims control analyst. In the mid 1980's, he was transferred to Los Angeles, California. They remained there for five years, but Jack and Elaine didn't care for being so far away from family. Besides work, they did travel a lot while in California. When Jack retired in 1990, they moved back to their home on Westview. With grandchildren in their midst, they would not have wanted it any other way. Jack loved his grandchildren dearly. He was never too busy for them and loved teaching them things, gladly sharing his wisdom.
Jack and Elaine enjoyed a love for travel. From Arizona to Ireland, and many places in between, they took in the wonder of the world around them. Jack loved driving, especially taking the back roads and knew nearly every back road in the country! His memory for the fine details of every city they visited was remarkable. However, home and near family was the place where Jack found the greatest joy.
At home, Jack and Elaine loved to garden, and Jack kept his yard meticulously. He also enjoyed antiquing and scouting around garage and estate sales. He loved tinkering around the house, especially on cars and small machines. Jack had a lot of "stuff" yet was very organized and knew where everything was. Much like others who lived through the Great Depression, Jack kept everything! He was innovative and improvised with what he had to replace or repair items, so they could be once again usable.
He loved sailing on Eagle Lake in Decatur. Jack was a car racing fan, particularly NASCAR, and he loved the Detroit Tigers. He liked jazz, swing, and the sounds of the big bands from his youth. Jack kept well informed. He enjoyed reading informational material on subject matters concerning investments, people, and medical issues. He thought long and hard about things and continued to be intellectual and wise in many respects well into his later years.
In all ways, Jack was generous with his time and talents, and was a wonderful neighbor in this regard. He had a love for animals and was sure to have treats in his pockets for the neighborhood dogs. He even recently started feeding the squirrels in his yard straight from his hand. One of Jack's greatest attributes was patience. People were drawn to Jack, and he naturally had a way with people, who enjoyed and appreciated his company. He was not only intelligent and wise but loved kidding around with his uncanny sense of humor. An all around nice man, Jack's kind and gentle nature was one of a kind.
Jack had his share of health problems. He dealt with back problems and beat a bout with prostate cancer. He fought a one and a half year battle with pancreatic cancer and lived with long- term heart conditions. Jack's greatest, brave battle was fighting for his wife's health. She had been diagnosed with ALS, and Jack lovingly cared for her and saw to her every need until she died.
Whether personally or professionally, Jack Knight was a problem solver. He was perseverant in all he did and always found a way to make things work. What made him more than special was his way with those around him. He had a heart for others and was helpful and patient beyond compare. For these things and so much more, Jack will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
At the age of 87, Jack E. Knight, of Kalamazoo died on Saturday, February 7, 2015, at his home. He was preceded in death by his wife, M. Elaine Knight; three sisters: Jean, Lois and Louise; and by a son-in-law, Scott Campbell. Members of his family include his two daughters: Annette Campbell and Ellen (Tom) Wietecha; four grandchildren: Laura and Matt Campbell, and Nick and Brett Wietecha; three siblings: Norman (Kay) Knight, Robert Knight and Rosemary Hogmire; and many nieces and nephews. Visit with family and friends while sharing food and refreshments on Wednesday from 5-8 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, 375-2900, where services will be held Thursday at 11 AM. A luncheon will follow in the Life Story Center. Please visit Jack’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or American Heart Association.