Thursday, February 27, 2020

Community mourns death of Richard McKnight, 75

Richard “Dick” McKnight
Well-known attorney Richard C. McKnight passed away at home in the early morning hours of Feb. 16, at the age of 75, after a 25-year battle with Parkinson's Disease.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 53 years, former 18th District Cort Judge Gail McKnight; his mother, Marion McKnight of Kalamazoo; his brother, Brian and sister-in-law Linda of Greenville; his brother, Daniel and sister-in-law Linda of Sun City, AZ.; his brother, John and his wife Lourelle of Caledonia, and his brother William of Reno, NV. He is also survived by his grandchildren Sam Taylor, Gena Taylor, Jessica Taylor, Kimberly Taylor, Emily McKnight and Christian Feliks, and his great-grandchildren, Bobby Taylor, Jordan Taylor, and Mollie Rose Temple.

Mr. McKnight was the loving father of the late Mollie McKnight Feliks and the late Edward Emery McKnight. He was the son of the late Carl McKnight and the eldest brother of the late Nancy McKnight.
Born in Grand Rapids, he grew up in Newaygo and graduated from Newaygo High School in 1962. He obtained his degree in journalism in 1966 and his law degree in 1969, both from the University of Detroit.  He had been a reporter for the Newaygo Republican Newspaper, the Grand Rapids Press and the Westland Eagle newspaper.
He was recognized as a 50-year member of the State Bar of Michigan in 2020. He served as Detroit Police Chief Legal Advisor of Detroit Police Chief John Nichols and as a lawyer in private practice representing a number of police unions. He later had a diverse family and criminal law practice, and served as a Wayne County Juvenile Court Referee for 10 years before he retired.
He gave his time to many causes, and served as campaign manager for John Nichols for Mayor of the City of Detroit in 1973. He served on the Livonia School Board for eight years, including as board chair. He also led the 13th District Democratic Party for six years, including leading the delegation to the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1992 and Chicago in 1996. He served as a catechism teacher at St. Mary Catholic Church in Wayne and as a lector at Mass.
Following his diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease, he and his wife became active volunteers in the Parkinson's community. They spent nearly 25 years as active members of the Ann Arbor Parkinson's Support Group serving five years as co-chairs.  They attended meetings in Washington of the Parkinson Action Network lobbying members of the House and Senate to fund research for Parkinson's Disease. They also represented the Michigan Parkinson's Foundation at the International Parkinson's in Montreal, Canada. Mr. McKnight also served on the board of directors of the Michigan Parkinson's Foundation, until the disease prevented his participation.
Mr. McKnight became a volunteer for numerous medical trials, sometimes getting a new drug, and other times a placebo. The various trials helped him stay ahead of the disease, his family said.  In 2012, he underwent Deep Brain Stimulation surgery which ended tremors which could not be tamed by any traditional medicines.  The disease continued to take a toll on his body requiring a walker, then a wheelchair, and then the total loss of use of his legs in 2020.  He has donated his body for medical autopsy at Henry Ford Hospital to further research of this disease.
Through it all he continued to soldier on with his great smile, and the help of Arabella who joined the family after Mollie was killed in a car accident. She became his self-taught therapy dog.   She helped him to control the tremors and has always been at his side. On his final days she was on his bed along with his other dog, Teddy Bear.
Memorial visitation will take place from 3 until 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 28. at the L.J. Griffin Funeral Home, Northrop-Sassaman Chapel 19091 Northville Road, at Seven Mile Road.. A memorial gathering is scheduled to begin at noon, Saturday, Feb. 29, at SS. Peter & Paul Jesuit Church, 629 E. Jefferson (at St. Antoine), Detroit until the time of his Memorial Mass at 12:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests the Michigan Parkinson Foundation, 30400 Telegraph, #150, Bingham Farms, MI 48025 https:// or the Pope Francis Center, 438 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226 https://popefranciscenter.