BANGOR - William Franklin Knight, known to many friends and loved ones as "Bill" received a warm welcome home when he passed away peacefully on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2013, at a Bangor health care facility. Born May 22, 1922, in Rocky Ridge, Md., to Harry Hamilton Knight and Mary Flegal Knight.
Bill and his sister, Marie, grew up happily helping their parents run the family farm and never turning a hungry stranger away from their table. Bill attended High School in Emmitsburg Md. On May 27, 1940, he joined the Army Air Corps. After training Bill found himself working as a mechanic and truck driver on a convoy to Bangor. In Maine he fell in love with Bangor native, Shirley Bowdoin. They married at Fort Dix in 1942 shortly before he was shipped to Africa, South Africa, then Suez and Syria. During World War II he spent months shuttling supplies from Suez to Cairo and then 18 months with the British 8th Army hauling ammo and fuel for the Allied troops as they fought to drive Rommel out of North Africa. Later he was assigned to Italy and was honorably discharged in August 1945. His service during World War II was just the beginning of his 32 years of military service to our country. After working for Webber Motor Company of Bangor, farming and running his own small engine repair business Bill joined the Navy....eventually rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer and retiring having worked in Virginia and Maine. His last assignment was working as a Navy recruiter here in Bangor.
Bill became known in the community for the many charitable causes he worked on. He served on the Board of Directors and was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, belonged to his much loved 40 Hommes ET 8 Chevaux, was an American Legion member in good standing continuously for 60 years, was a member of the VFW and many other military and public service clubs. He worked tirelessly raising funds, locating computers, etc. for children with special needs, adopted more than 40 homeless cats caring for them and many other farm animals on his farm in Bradford. In his 70s he began serving as a member of the Maine Troop Greeters. For more than 10 years Bill never missed but a handful of flights at Bangor International Airport! He welcomed thousands of men and women in all branches of the U.S. military over the last two decades. He was especially fond of Maine's National Guard. Troops across the country have fondly recalled their meetings with Bill, as he stood at the front of the receiving line -often shouting, "Welcome Home, Heroes" - as they entered the airport. President George Bush, President Obama and Vice President Biden all met Bill and thanked him for his military service and his service with and for the Maine Troop Greeters. Bill became a celebrity though he was never looking for fame. People in the military and those who had never served wrote to Bill thanking him and calling him "an inspiration." He touched many lives both before and after the making of the much acclaimed documentary, "The Way We Get By". Bill loved his travels with the movie producers and fellow troop greeters. He had won many service awards but what was most important to him was simply being a U.S. citizen.
This patriot extraordinaire will be sadly missed by hundreds of folks. He was predeceased by his first wife, Shirley B. Knight; their two children, Catherine M. Knight, and Joanne Grace Knight; and his second wife, Selma Woods. His dearest friend, Jeanne Moffat, died this fall. Bill is survived by his loving sister, Marie Cissel and her family; his grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and by devoted friends, Jerry Mundy, Joan Gaudet, Gita Pullapilly and Aron Audet, the Breakfast Crew as well as by his adopted family, Dick, Lynn, Meg and Molly Ryan of Hampden.
A funeral service with Military Honors will held 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center St., Bangor. Relatives and friends are invited to share conversation and refreshments at the Family Reception Center of Brookings-Smith, 163 Center St., immediately following the service. Spring interment will be held at Maine Veterans Cemetery, Augusta. Those who wish to remember Bill in a special way may make gifts in his memory to the Salvation Army 65 South Park St., Bangor, ME 04401; Bangor Humane Society, 693 Mount Hope Ave., Bangor, ME 04401; Animal Orphanage, P.O. Box 565, Orono, ME 04473-0565; or The Maine Troop Greeters, P.O. Box 246, Brewer, ME 04412. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.com.
133 Center Street Bangor, ME 04401
Published in BDN Maine from Dec. 28, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014