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Posted on: October 21, 2022

The Honorable Robert "Bob" H. McKnight 1951-2022

Councilman Robert H. McKnight

With heavy hearts and on behalf of his son David McKnight and his daughter Mary Elizabeth McKnight, the City of Defuniak Springs Mayor, City Council, City Manager, and city staff announce the passing of Councilman Robert “Bob” H. McKnight. We are honored to have known him and to have served with him. May he rest In peace.  

A Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 2:00-5:00PM at the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood. 🕊 Please take a moment to remember his family and friends at this time of loss.

Robert Hildreth McKnight, 71, of DeFuniak Springs, FL, and formerly of Lexington, KY, passed away on October 21, 2022. Robert was born on August 11, 1951, in Ozark, AL to the late Willie J. and Pennie Byrd McKnight. He graduated from Carroll High School in Ozark, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore with both a Master’s in Public Health and a Doctor of Science. He and his wife Mary Ellen moved to Anchorage, Alaska where he was an Assistant Professor at The University of Alaska-Anchorage and served as Captain of the US Army Reserve.

Robert was recruited to the University of Kentucky College of Public Health where he served as a distinguished professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine for over 30 years. During his time at UK, he was the Director of the Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention. His professional sabbaticals and research lead him to Sweden, Australia, South Africa, and many more. He was a fearless leader, a respected colleague, and an accomplished grant writer. He had a love for travel, a sense of adventure, and a passion for historic preservation. He set out to visit all 50 states before the age of 35. After retiring to Florida,

Robert became an active member of the DeFuniak Springs City Council where he served as the Vice-Chair of the Economic Development Committee and was former Mayor Pro Tem. He proudly attended his last City Council meeting only days before his passing. Robert was a loving husband and father. He is preceded in death by his wife of 41 years, Mary Ellen McKnight. He is survived by his children, David Windham McKnight (Ryan Velasco) of Washington, DC, and Mary Elizabeth McKnight (Josh Perkins) of Lexington, Kentucky, brothers Joseph B. McKnight (Jan) of Spartanburg, SC, and Eugene H. McKnight of Montecito, CA and several nieces and nephews.  

A celebration of life will take place Thursday, October 27 th from 2:00 – 5:00 at the Chautauqua Hall in DeFuniak Springs, FL. A private interment service will be held in Lexington, Kentucky at a later date. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX or the charity of one’s choice.

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