Corvallis – William Robert Knox (“Bill”), 89, of Corvallis, MT, died peacefully December 17, 2013 surrounded by his family. Born October 3, 1924 to Lawrence Mason and Mabry Alice (Black) Knox in Marble Falls, Texas, he was a gentle, loving man with a keen mind, dedicated to bettering people’s lives. He is survived by his wife Gayl and four children: sons Jeff (Maureen Shortell) and Bob Knox, daughters Martha Knox (Richard Bailly) and Becky (Ian Graham), and Grandson Ray Bailly.
Bill loved music (especially jazz), people, travel, skiing, football, his dog, ice cream and marching bands. He had a remarkable sense of humor with a joke or terrible pun for nearly every occasion.
Young “Billy Bob” grew up in Giddings and Elgin, TX among many cousins scattered between Lee County and Austin. Much of his early years were spent on his uncle’s ranch and working — at the Brick Yards in Elgin, golf caddying, and at another uncle’s store in Ledbetter.
Bill graduated in 1942 from Elgin High School, where he had played coronet in the band. He attended the University of Texas in Austin where he studied Chemical Engineering, but left to enlist in the Army in May 1943. He proudly served in the “Timberwolves” (the 415th of the 104th Infantry). In November of 1944 he had an argument with some German shrapnel, earning him a Purple Heart. Later in life, Bill proudly led the Memorial Services at the Timberwolves’ annual reunions.
After his discharge, Bill earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1947 from Austin College. Following this, he attended Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While working with Campus Ministry in Columbia, MO, he met Virginia Gayl Auer of Towson, MD. They were married in Aug 1950 and shared 63 years together. Bill received his Bachelor of Divinity in 1951. He was ordained in July 1951 in Charlottesville, VA where he began his ministry as Campus Minister. His life in the church took him to Fayetteville, AR and then to Philadelphia where he served as Director of the Christian Association at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in June 1966. From there, he answered calls to Syracuse, NY; Seneca Falls, NY; Boone, NC; Watkins Glen, NY; and finally, Lansing, NC. After 40 years of active service, Bill returned to Boone and was Honorably Retired from the Presbyterian Church in 1990. In 2001, he and Gayl moved to Corvallis, MT to be near family.
Bill was passionate about human rights, social justice, world peace, hunger and the environment. One of his proudest days was in March 1963 when he joined the crowds at the Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King Jr. and others speak for civil rights.
Bill’s legacy is helping make the world a better place. Always stepping up whenever he saw needs, many of his efforts continue to blossom. He was an active organizer and promoter of programs to fight world hunger such as 2¢-a-Meal and Crop Walk. He worked with “The Witherspoon Society” from its inception, a network of concerned Presbyterians that continues to promote social equality and justice issues. Encouraging people to “walk the talk,” he joined “Witness for Peace” and toured Nicaragua in 1983 during the Contra War. This organization continues to work throughout Central America supporting peace, justice and sustainable economies.
He was a co-founder of “Presbyterians for Restoring Creation,” a national, grassroots organization to support people of faith working towards “environmental wholeness with social justice,” and was honored with the Bill Gibson Award for Lifetime Achievement in Environmental Justice in June 2001.
Bill believed strongly that all citizens should participate in the political process. A lifelong Democrat, he was actively involved in campaigns for local, state, and national offices and issues.
Services for Bill will be held at the Hamilton First Presbyterian Church on Friday, December 27th at 11 a.m. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, any interested persons make a donation to “Heifer International” (www.heifer.org). Their work to fight poverty and hunger was near and dear to Bill’s heart. Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com.