Herbert ("Bert") Twombly Knight, age 96, born in Lewiston, Maine November 22, 1924 to Howard G. and May Twombly Knight, died in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on December 13 2020. Bert grew up on a family farm in Maine. He had a brilliant mind, beginning Bates College in chemistry, then recruited into a special army program at age twenty in 1944 recognizing his incredible scientific potential and funding his continued academic career. He graduated valedictorian from Bates College, then proceeded to obtain his doctorate in physical chemistry from Harvard University in 1952. Upon graduation, he went to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory on the hydrogen bomb and atomic rocket engine projects, among many others. His first wife, Ruth Crowell Knight, married him during college and travelled with him throughout his dynamic scientific career. They moved from Los Alamos, NM to the Nevada desert to work on the atomic rocket engine, then to Hanford, Washington with Westinghouse, then to Oakridge, TN with Exxon to find commercial applications for government research, then to Baton Rouge, LA with ExxonMobil as project manager for building a new ethylene plant and, after its cancellation, finishing his career as the director of the analytical lab. Bert loved life and loved travelling. He has slide shows upon slide shows of all his many trips with Ruth, and then with his second wife Olga Sampson Fontane Begue' Knight. He would frequently meet on the ski slopes, at annual family reunions at Kentucky Lakes, on cruises or tours (including San Juan Islands, Grand Canyon, Alaska, Europe, New England & Maritime Provinces) with his three close cousins (younger siblings in a way to him, as he was an only child), Kenneth Knight, Barbara Knight Dieffenbach, and Donald Knight. (Bert and his three cousins were affectionately known as "the Thundering Herd"). He also adored Ruth's niece Liz Cassen, a pilot and author of a book about several famous pilots in American history, and had many adventures flying with her. Bert was a storyteller and had a unique sense of humor. He developed an interest in genealogy late in life. It gave him a strong belief in the importance of family. He traced both his Knight family and Ruth Crowell's to one of the couples on the Mayflower. Upon retirement and the mortal illness of his first love Ruth, they moved into St. James Place Retirement Community as two of the first residents there, while Bert cared for Ruth until her untimely death. He then met his second wife Olga. They loved to dance and play bridge and travelled often. Besides contributing his musical talents of voice and guitar, Bert became the resident photographer of events at St. James, including one that was widely shared about Hurricane Katrina and its impact. He celebrated his wife's 90th birthday in style, then took care of her until her passing. He lastly courted and wooed his third wife, Doris Murray Akers Knight, also a resident at St. James and in the St. James choir with him. Their love story, he at age 91 and Doris at age 80, was featured in the Valentine's edition of the 225 Magazine. When Doris had to move to the nursing home at St. James mid-year 2019, Bert had his easy chair moved over there too, and stayed with her during the day each day. Always a man of action, he soon decided he had had enough of their separation, and moved in to the nursing home himself in February of this year, just in time to beat the pandemic stay-at-home order. Their being together brought the families much comfort. While Bert had no children, Doris' children have adopted him and grown very fond of him. Both Bert and Doris caught Covid-19 earlier this summer and were hospitalized for several weeks, but neither required a ventilator, and they eventually returned to St. James. Sadly, a fall in late November revealed that he had a sequela of Covid of clotting easily, and developed such a large blood clot in his leg that his body succumbed. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. A memorial service will be held via Zoom on Tuesday, December 22. Visitation will be from 10:15 to 10:55 AM for those who wish to speak to the family, with the service beginning at 11:00 AM in a separate Zoom room. Contact Denise Akers at [email protected]
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Published by The Advocate from Dec. 16 to Dec. 21, 2020.