Robert Ashley Knight
June 24, 1938 ~ January 11, 2023
Fluvanna County, Virginia
Resided in: Asheville, North Carolina
Robert Ashley Knight, 84, died peacefully on January 11, 2023, at Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community in Asheville, NC. Born June 24, 1938 in Fluvanna County, VA to Charles Edward Ashley Knight Esq. and Mary Gwendolyne (Selden) Knight, he grew up in Richmond VA. Bob attended Thomas Jefferson High School (class of 1957) where he was on the track team and stage crew, and sang in the chorus of the musical Brigadoon. He also rowed crew at the Richmond Boat Club.
He joined the Navy after high school and served on the USS Valcour, AVP-55, a flagship for Commander Middle East Forces. While in the Navy (1957-61), Bob visited countries all around the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and Caribbean, and crossed the Equator three times. Seeing the world during his Navy service made a lasting impression on him.
After his Navy service, Bob attended the University of Virginia and Central College in Pella IA, where he studied Geography and Economics. Having visited so many places overseas he was always very open, sensitive and welcoming to people from other countries and cultures. In college he was the student who most befriended all the foreign exchange students, who awarded him “American Student of the Year” in appreciation of his outreach to them. In college Bob also met his future wife Jane, whom he married after graduation. He later pursued graduate studies in Urban Planning at the University of Iowa. He spent most of his professional career as an economist at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, retiring in 2008. At HUD, his detail-oriented nature was well suited to surveying and analyzing mortgage interest rates and other economic indicators of the housing market.
As a devoted father Bob instilled in his sons a curiosity about the world rather than asserting authority over them. He supported them in their varied activities, serving as Cubmaster, accompanying many Boy Scout outings and camping trips, traveling with them to athletic and academic competitions around the country, and encouraging them to find their own paths. He loved his young grandchildren. In the last weeks of his life, Bob was delighted that his one-year-old grandson could now say “PopPop” and give him high-fives.
Bob was a lover of nature and of history, which helped inspire lifelong loves of both in his son Will. A special gift he gave his sons Tom and Will was modeling just how nurturing and caring a man could be, and his example as a father inspires Tom to this day. He taught both of them each to be a peacemaker, a nurturer, and a steady rock for themselves and their whole family.
A lifelong Episcopalian and lover of liturgical music, Bob sang in the choirs of each parish he and Jane attended. He also served on parish committees to procure new pipe organs for St Andrew’s Arlington VA and St Andrew’s Burke VA. When Bob’s children were small, he set lullaby words to psalm chant tones and sang them to his boys at bedtime. As he approached death, his sons in turn chanted psalms and sang hymns to him.
Bob is survived by his wife of 54 years Jane Ainsworth Knight of Asheville, son Thomas Ashley Knight (Amanda), grandchildren Cora, MaKenna and Henry, all of Lexington SC, son William Ainsworth Knight (Rachel Bartgis) of Annapolis MD, sister Mary Gwendolyne Bendall, several nieces and nephews and their families. Bob was predeceased by his parents and his brother Daniel Stuart Knight.
A memorial service celebrating Bob’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, at St Giles Chapel at Deerfield located at 1617 Hendersonville Road, Asheville NC. Interment will be at the Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration, Orkney Springs VA, on Saturday, June 10, at 2 pm.
Donations in memory of Bob may be made to Episcopal Relief and Development, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116, https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-you-can-do/give/donate-now/individual-donation/ , or to Four Seasons Hospice, 211 N Main St, Hendersonville, NC 28792, https://fourseasonsfdn.org/ways-to-give/give-today/ .
Bob’s family is extremely grateful to the nurses and staff at Deerfield’s Skilled Nursing Facility and Four Seasons Hospice who so lovingly cared for him.
To place a condolence online, please visit www.grocefuneralhome.com.
Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian is assisting the family.
Memorial Service: March 18, 2023 2:00 pm
St. Giles Chapel of Deerfield Retirement Community
1617 Hendersonville Road
Asheville, NC 28803