Nov. 30, 1924 — April 22, 2016
On April 22, 2016, William “Dean” Knight passed away into the foothill memories of his adventures in his childhood Big Horn Mountains. With bow and arrow in hand, he can now shoot the moon.
Dean was born in Mont Ida, Kan., to Henry and Elnora Knight. By age 6, his family left Kansas and moved to Sheridan, Wyo. There, they hoped to find a new life, but at the age of 14, fate took Dean’s father, handing Dean the responsibilities of the family. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Dean withdrew from school. He put on the coveralls of a gas jockey and worked his way to a grease monkey. He could fix anything and did his best to make life comfortable for his mother and three sisters.
As with family, and most members of this generation, in 1941, at 18, his country asked him for another sacrifice. Dean proudly enlisted and served as a corpsman in the Pacific Theater until he was honorably discharged at the end of the war. Till his final day, his affiliation with the American Legion was one of devotion to men and women who served our country, no matter what war.
As with all things that end, another must start. Dean figured that better include a good-looking woman. Boy, did it. In some ways, courting Virginia Bell proved tougher than the service. She was lively and beautiful. Just about all Dean could handle, but he got it done. Together they built a life, facing changes as they came, to include literally bringing home the groceries as Dean worked for Ryan’s Groceries and Bob’s Evergreen. Dean knew his vegetables and that, his irascible sons did not. Lively and unpredictable, he saw them through it all until it was time for them to leave. Then he showed them the door. Dean had some living to do.
In 1979, Dean learned some new manners and was introduced to how to properly dress, attend a play or some cultural thing, wine and dine, then cut a rug with his new wife, Eleanor Erfle, who commanded his attention for 27 loving and educational years. In return, Dean introduced her to Bob and Dee with whom they did everything, the Elks Club, the American Legion and golf. All in all, Dean thought this to be a pretty good tradeoff.
So he kinda retired, if being a turf jockey at Yellowstone Country Club qualifies. As far as he was concerned, the only way to test the grass and the Stimpmeter on a green was to play; 18 if necessary. Well, play he did, from Banff to New Zealand and back to good old Billings.
Dean is preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Elnora; his second wife, Eleanor; granddaughter Misty; and his sisters, Opal, Helen, and Wilma.
Those that survive are his sons, Nick, Dave (Barb), Tim (Jody); granddaughters Nicole, Kayla and Brita; grandson Todd; and many great-grandchildren. Dean had an especially deep love for his favorite niece, Mary Lynn Malone and family.
May thanks to the Billings VA, Madonna, Paula and staff; Aspen Meadows, Jennifer and staff. And in particular, all of our friends who listened and laughed about the stories we would tell about him in his final years.
Please, no donations or flowers. In these next few days or those to come, if you think of Dean, just raise a glass of wine (cheap, as that was his favorite), and toast to a good man, father and friend. As you do, mull over this prayer.
“To all the golf balls I never found, rest in peace, I am”
Memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Friday, April 29, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. Following the service, the Knight family invites you to a reception at 1212 Lewis Ave.