Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In Memoriam

Richard David Knott
April 17, 1941 - November 4, 2013

From time to time in this work that we do we find a remarkable story.  Richard David “Dick” Knott’s is one of those.  At the age of 68, Richard became the first in his family of his generation to enroll in a college degree program.  Richard was, by all accounts, a good and enthusiastic student, earning all
A’s and B’s in his coursework.  Richard’s family recalls how proud he was to be a college student.

This past Monday, November 4th, Richard passed away at the age of 72 in what was his final semester before graduation.  And here began a remarkable series of conversations initiated by his brother, Jerry Knott.  Jerry contacted the college upon his brother’s passing to ask if the college might grant an honorary degree to be conveyed to Richard’s wife, Pamela, to acknowledge Richard’s passion for learning and his pride of accomplishment in having pursued a college degree late in life.

Upon review of Richard’s transcripts it became evident that he qualified for the degree with a waiver of a single course, something the college is able to do under such circumstances.  On Tuesday, November 5, Richard’s diploma for completion of the AAS degree in Data Base Management was handed to his brother along with a mortar board marking Richard’s accomplishment.  He had earned a college degree at the age of 72.

Life being what it is, the story continues.  While speaking with Jerry another uncanny connection to the Knott family revealed itself.  Jerry’s grandson, it turned out, had been a student at Hastings College during my time there.  The grandson had been involved in a serious car accident resulting in the death of another driver.  In the weeks and months that followed I became close with both the grandson and his parents, Jerry’s son and daughter-in-law, as they worked as a family through a difficult and challenging time.

That story has had a positive ending, as the young man in question went on to graduate from college.  He now works to get others who might not make it into college, and once there to live healthy and contributing lives.  And while Richard Knott’s story is a tragedy, as any loss of life is, there is a full circle quality to this story that I hope the family recognizes and celebrates. 
Richard Knott’s life will be celebrated nearly exactly five years following the tragedy that changed the life of his great-nephew in Hastings.  Both were, I am sure, proud of one another for their accomplishments and perseverance.  The Knott family is as well, I am confident.

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