Former BLET Vice President Willard Knight, 1951-2018
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, December 22 — Willard E. Knight, former National Vice President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, passed away peacefully on December 20, 2018, following a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Brother Knight, 67, was born on February 15, 1951 in Portsmouth, Ohio to Ernest Freeman Knight and Nellie Miller Knight. He spent 34 of his 44 years in the railroad industry serving the membership as an elected officer of the Brotherhood. His railroad career began in 1969 as a fireman on the Norfolk & Western Railroad in Portsmouth, Ohio. He earned promotion to locomotive engineer in 1972 and first joined the Brotherhood on January 1, 1974, as a member of BLET Division 511 in Portsmouth. After joining the Brotherhood, he was elected Local Chairman of Division 511 in 1979, a position he held until he was elected General Chairman on January 1, 1992.
He was elected by acclamation to the position of third-alternate vice president at the BLET''''s First Quadrennial Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2006, and was promoted to the BLET''''s Advisory Board on April 24, 2009. He retired in 2013.
Immediately prior to his elevation to the Advisory Board, Knight served as General Chairman of the BLET''''s Norfolk Southern-Eastern Region General Committee of Adjustment, a position he held for 18 years. He also served the Brotherhood as a delegate to the 1996 quinquennial convention in Detroit, the 2001 quinquennial convention in Miami, and the 2006 quadrennial convention in Las Vegas.
As General Chairman, he was involved in Conrail merger negotiations in the mid-1990s and participated in all on-property agreements on the Norfolk Southern. Those agreements have provided wage increases, quality of life improvements and important job protections for the members he represented. He helped negotiate an agreement that contains an important scope rule that protects locomotive engineer jobs in the face of changing technology without sacrificing jobs in other crafts.
His father, Ernest Knight, worked for 42 years for the Norfolk & Western as a supervisor in the car department.
Brother Knight was known for being a hard working family man who put in long, difficult hours to provide for his family. He married his soul mate, his wife of 47 years, Teresia Lynne Stidham on November 27, 1971. The light of his life, his daughter, Michele Dawn, was welcomed into the world on November 23, 1974. Willard was a devoted father and family man who was very involved in the life of his daughter and grandchildren, Brady and Creed. His adored his grandchildren and always made certain that their needs were met. There was not a ball game of his grandsons he missed and he was their biggest cheerleader and fan.
He is survived by his wife, Teresia Lynne Knight, his daughter, Michele (Pat) Warren and grandchildren Brady Warren and Creed Warren. He is also survived by his nephews, who saw him as a father figure, Aaron (Cassie) McHenry and Chad (Sara) McHenry, several great nieces and nephews along with special cousins, Marvin (Jackie) Knight, Wayne (Leah) Knight, Mary (Marvin) Grashel and Carl (Kathy) Reese.
“Willard Knight leaves behind a profoundly positive legacy with our union,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “The contracts he helped negotiate over the years have had a positive and lasting impact on a generation of locomotive engineers. Brother Willard’s family should be proud of what he accomplished for the BLET and its members throughout his railroad career. On behalf of all men and women of the BLET, I extend our most heartfelt condolences to Teresia Lynne and all members of the Knight family.”
A memorial service and celebration of life will be held from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Sunday, December 23, 2018 at Harrison-Pyles Funeral Home in Wheelersburg with the funeral following at 4:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to SOMC Hospice, 2201 25th Street, Portsmouth, OH 45662. Willard’s family wishes to express their deepest gratitude to those who have extended their sympathy and condolences. On line condolences may be made at http://www.harrison-pyles.com.
Saturday, December 22, 2018
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