Thomas Mitchell Knight passed away at his home south of Gordon on July 12, 2017, after battling numerous medical conditions for several years.
Tom was born on Feb. 8, 1948, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Ellsworth Laverne Knight and Ruth Mae Jones and lived in the area most of his life. The last of four children, Tom is preceded in death by his parents, older brother, John, his only sister, Ruthie, a niece, Stephanie Michelle, and a nephew, John. He is survived by his brother, Edward of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Tom recently moved to the Sandhills of Nebraska, eventually settling on a small place south of Gordon.
After being invited to leave yet another high school at 17 years of age, Tom’s dad gave him a choice: the military or high school. Mistakenly thinking his dad would not sign for him to go in to the military at 17, Tom chose the Marines. Dad signed the papers and Tom ended up in Hawaii on his 18th birthday and in Vietnam ‘getting shot at’ the next day. Tom finished two tours in Vietnam before separating from the Marines in 1968.
Getting his start on a 6x6 truck in the Marines, driving a truck as a civilian seemed like a logical next step for Tom. He heeded his dad’s advice and did what he was good at and he was very good at it. From his first load hauling explosives to Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis to the food co-op from which he retired in 2010, Tom hauled freight of all kinds (except live animals) through all of the continental 49 states as well as Canada. Tom liked to boast that he could make it to the west coast and back to Iowa alone faster than other rigs who were driving two man teams. Driving alone seemed to be his destiny as he seldom made a whole run with another driver, even when he was supposed to. His boss probably thought those guys who were ‘driving’ with Tom had sleeping sickness because when they checked in with HQ, Tom was the only one the boss got to talk to. The other one was always ‘in the bunk’. Tom left co-drivers scattered across the country like Dave Dudley scattered out his women. He even attempted co-driving with his brother and with one of his wives and they couldn’t measure up to Tom’s standards. He was a fearless driver with only one mission: get the job done on time and as safely as possible.
He made friends with many of his food co-op customers throughout Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota. He was happy to be able to rekindle many of those when he relocated to Nebraska. Walking through a store of any kind in this part of the country is like a glance into the food co-op clientele. He recognizes so many of his customers and they greet him like a long lost friend.
When he wasn’t driving an 18-wheeler, Tom spent time maintaining and repairing his own truck and found his relaxation with his dogs and horses. After retiring and moving to Nebraska, he decided that cats aren’t really all that bad and leaves several feline friends looking around and wondering where he’s gone.
Memorial services will be held Saturday July 22, 2017, at 2 p.m. at Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, Gordon, Neb.