George R. Knight Jr., a world-renowned naval architect and avid sailor, died March 17, 2020, in Greenport, N.Y., following complications from injuries sustained in a Jan. 9 car accident occasioned by a stroke. Mr. Knight was 92 years old and a resident of Peconic Landing.
After graduating from Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Knight spent 18 months in the U.S. Navy being trained in radar before his honorable discharge in 1947. He had loved boats his entire childhood, designing his first working sailboat by the time he was 6 years old. Not wishing to delay his college education further, he accepted an offer of admission to the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering immediately following his time in the Navy. He graduated from the U. of Michigan 1951 with a B.S. degree in naval architecture and marine engineering.
Mr. Knight began his career with the naval architecture firm of M. Rosenblatt & Son, Inc. (MR&S) in Manhattan, which was then one of the largest full-service naval architectural and marine engineering firms in the United States. From MR&S, he was recruited by Dr. John McMullen in 1957 to join the fledgling John J. McMullen Associates, an international firm of naval architects and marine engineers that Mr. Knight, who ultimately rose to the position of executive vice president, helped grow to more than 700 employees, mostly engineers and skilled designers. During his tenure, he directed and/or personally participated in the majority of commercial ship design projects at JJMA. Much of Mr. Knight’s work was related to the design of cargo vessels intended for the transport of crude oil, petroleum products and dry bulk cargoes. The designs included many specialized ship types and conversions for various applications. Among other notable accomplishments, Mr. Knight was the inventor of several patented aspects of container ships and traveled the globe in his role with JJMA.
In 1997, Mr. Knight was awarded the prestigious David W. Taylor Medal by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers for “Notable Achievement in Naval Architecture,” specifically for his accomplishments in the design of commercial vessels for all types of national and international ship owners, operators and ship builders. In 2003, he received an honorary doctorate as the commencement speaker at the Webb Institute. JJMA was also one of the original tenants of the World Trade Center towers, and maintained offices there during the 1993 WTC bombing until the infamous 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. Under the calm leadership of Mr. Knight, JJMA offices at WTC 2 were evacuated safely and no JJMA personnel were injured in the terrible event. Mr. Knight personally contacted every employee until each person was accounted for following the building collapse. Mr. Knight retired in 2002 after 44 years at JJMA, but remained in a consulting and mentoring role for an additional 18 months.
In his free time, his wooden yawl Rival and family were his priorities. Mr. Knight was an avid sailor, a love he shared with his wife, Penny, who died in 2014. They were members of the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club for many decades, enjoying a view of the bay from the home that Mr. Knight designed in Port Washington, before retiring to Greenport, N.Y., in 2003 to be even closer to the water and great sailing.
Mr. Knight leaves behind his sister, Betty Jane Seeger; five children: Theresa Knight, Pamela Deese, Jameson Wells, Trisha Fishel and Jennifer Santelli; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandson.
Consistent with his wishes, a private memorial service celebrating Mr. Knight’s life and the spreading of his ashes at sea will take place in June or July.
This is a paid notice.