Gary Knight Sr., 56, 25-year truck driver

Gary Knight Sr.
Gary Knight Sr.
Posted: June 21, 2013

YOU WOULD THINK that a truck driver who spent hours on the road behind the wheel would not be inclined to hop into a car and drive hundreds of miles more.

But meet Gary Knight Sr. He thought nothing of piling the family into his car and heading off to conquer the open road, motoring as far away as Florida, Chicago, Canada and numerous destinations in between.

And those trips did not consist of kids asking, "Are we there yet?" or morosely counting the telephone poles and grazing cattle to pass the time.

Gary made the excursions joyous occasions, marked by harmonizing on blues and R&B favorites, and yakking it up with a man whose sunny disposition and optimistic outlook on the world captivated family and friends alike.

He offered many lessons for living on those rides, but they could be summed up simply in two words: "Enjoy life."

Gary Knight Sr., a truck driver for 25 years, loving family patriarch, devoted churchman and Army veteran, died June 7 of complications of a blood disorder. He was 56 and lived in Southwest Philadelphia.

Gary had a fine singing voice, and he and his daughter, Alisha, and youngest son, Sammie, would harmonize on blues and R&B numbers that would have made Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff pay attention. At least, that was a nice fantasy.

Actually, Gary had formed a singing group while at William Levering Elementary School in Roxborough. But that was his last stab at singing outside the family.

Gary was born in Portsmouth, Va., and raised by Sammie and Katie Knight. When they moved to Philadelphia, they encouraged him to attend Sunday school at North Penn Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, beginning a lifelong devotion to the spiritual life.

He attended Roxborough High School before entering the Army. Gary was an exceptional student and a whiz at math, his family said.

After the Army, Gary attended the All-State Truck Driving School in Lester, working at Lerro's Chocolate Factory to help pay his tuition. He graduated with a commercial driver's license.

He was hired almost immediately by Trans Freight Trucking Co., and later Brooks Provisions LLC. He retired in 2010.

"He was a loving man," said Alisha. "He was always smiling. His world revolved around his family. He had a great work ethic. He constantly set an example as a hardworking family man. He sacrificed everything for his family."

Those long car trips were often for the purpose of visiting family members scattered around the country. Gary and his wife, Charlene, Alisha and sons Gary Jr. and Sammie made the trips. Other destinations included Niagara Falls, Birmingham, Ala., Richmond, Va., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and elsewhere.

Gary loved music, and one of his favorite songs was "When You've Been Blessed," sung by Philadelphia's own Patti LaBelle:

I have faith, I have hope

And I trust in the day

When the music from heaven

Will show us the way.

Besides his wife of 39 years, daughter and sons, he is survived by his biological mother, Shirley B. Pryor; a brother, James; two sisters, Violet and Sherry; and 12 grandchildren.

Services: Were Saturday. Burial was in Fernwood Cemetery.

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