Remembering Doug Knight — a friend, family man and York City advocate

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch

Doug Knight's wife recalls him as a master storyteller.

But since his unexpected death Jan. 4 at age 46, Korey Warner Knight has taken on the duties, telling her husband's own tale — including details his adoptive hometown might not know.

"How easily he could weave his words and make any subject interesting," she said during a Friday, Jan. 11, Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Dallastown.

"I loved to listen to him," Warner Knight recalled during the service, adding, "I hope each one of you listened, truly listened. Because they were funny and self-deprecating on the surface, but there was so much more underneath. Just like him." 

The church was full, but it was just the start of a weekend to remember Doug Knight.

On Saturday evening, community members came out amid the first snowfall of the year for a memorial event more Doug Knight's speed. 

"This is what he would've wanted; he wasn't about sad," said Adam McCallister, co-owner of McCallister & Myers Real Estate Services. "He was about celebrating." 

McCallister and Adam Nugent, York Revolution director of special events, emceed the event, which featured local musicians, food and drinking.

Adam Nugent, left, and Adam McCallister toast Doug Knight as his family and friends gather to celebrate the life of York's greatest cheerleader, Saturday, January 11, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

"Yesterday was somber," McCallister told the crowd. "Tonight is in the spirit of DK." 

Between 7 and 11 p.m., the community joined Knight's friends and family at the York Elks Lodge No. 213, 223 N. George St., to share personal stories and celebrate Doug Knight's "kick-ass life."

While many Yorkers may have known Doug Knight for his work advocating for York City and helping people achieve their dreams as the chief connector at Connect the Dots Movement, Warner Knight spoke about her husband's life before he came to York. 

Not a York County native, Doug Knight was born in Mount Holly, New Jersey, and grew up in Scranton and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He lived in Washington, D.C., for about 16 years before moving to York in 2012 to join Warner Knight, who is originally from the Red Lion area.

Family and friends gather to celebrate the life of Douglas Knight, Saturday, January 11, 2019 at the Elk's Club in York.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Warner Knight talked about her husband's student years, from playing the trumpet in the high school marching band to serenading sorority members at Syracuse University as a member of Kappa Kappa Psi fraternity. 

She spoke of his devotion to his family, not shying away from the difficult aspects of his life, including his father's two brain aneurysms.

She talked about Doug Knight's love for children — and their love right back. 

"They would stare in awe of him and almost see right into his soul that he really was a kid, too," Warner Knight said. 

As soon as "Uncle Doug" would walk into a room with his younger relatives, he'd be whisked away to play or have his hair braided, she said. 

And, of course, Warner Knight spoke about their love story. It was one that started exactly 10 years to the day before she shared it at the memorial service. 

They had met at a house party, Warner Knight noticing his orange vest and white button-down. Though Doug Knight seemed familiar, she didn't know from where, she said. Only after mustering up the courage to speak to him did she figure out where they had met before: a bachelor party. 

"From that night on we were always talking, learning from each other," Warner Knight said. "We lived and loved fiercely in those years." 

Friends, family, York City and community leaders attended a service for Douglas Knight at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Dallastown Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Knight, 46, who died Jan. 4, was "York City's cheerleader" according to his obituary. Bill Kalina photo

At the time, Doug Knight swore he would never get married and would never leave D.C., she said. 

Both would soon be proven wrong. 

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While he might have initially moved to southcentral Pennsylvania for his wife, Doug Knight soon fell in love with something else — York City, she said. 

The city loved him right back. 

There was an outpouring of love on social media in the wake of Doug Knight's death, and more was seen among the crowds who filled the church and Elks Lodge to honor him.

"He had this presence, he would just take everyone in the room and gather them around," Nugent said. "He was one of those guys you just couldn't get enough of." 

From individuals to city organizations, he touched the lives of many in York, based on the crowds and countless posts. 

Warner Knight said she'd often find her husband awake early in the morning and late at night, trying to make sure city events were advertised. 

He didn't view each project individually but as a whole, she said. 

"When he talked, he had a way of finding the passion within you," Warner Knight said. 

His energy was infectious and the gravitational pull surrounding him so strong, she said.

"Look around today and in the future," Warner Knight said. "We are all part of DK's drive."