Dr. Thomas J. Knight, 64

Dr. Thomas J. Knight

RAYMOND — Dr. Thomas Joseph Knight (Ph.D.), 64, of Raymond, died unexpectedly on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, with his wife Ellen by his side.

Born on May 12, 1948, in Philadelphia, Pa., he was the second child of Mary Sorrentino and Thomas Knight. Besides his Philadelphia family, he remained in close contact with friends from his youth, often recounting numerous memories of the activities, mischief, and favorite foods they enjoyed together.

He attended St. Thomas More High School in Philadelphia, Dominican College (BS), Rutgers University (MS, and Ph.D. in Plant Physiology).

While a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he met his wife, Ellen, and son, Dan. From 1984–1989, Dr. Knight worked at the Los Alamos National Lab in Los Alamos, N.M., where he and Ellen married. After the 1989 birth of their daughter, Katherine, Dr. Knight joined the faculty of the University of Southern Maine as an associate professor, later becoming an Associate Dean, in the College of Letters and Sciences.

For the last 24 years at USM, he has touched the lives of countless students, faculty and staff and was well-known for his optimism, kindness, humor and calm demeanor.

A lover of sports, his main hobbies included golf, basketball, volleyball, softball and skiing. His dedication to his collaborative scientific research, which resulted in nine patents, was the result of a passion to find the key to plant growth, develop a technology to better feed the hungry of the world, and inspire his students to make a positive impact of their own with the knowledge he gave them. Tom was able to realize his dream to inspire many students, complete the research, and follow it into patents that will make that happen.

Tom’s passion for science was eclipsed only by his devotion to his family. A loving husband to Ellen, happy father to his beloved children, Dan and Kate, he always made them feel like the center of his universe. His love for grandchildren, Nathan and Elly, was obvious each time he held them in his arms. Dr. Knight led a life characterized by love, kindness, and compassion and his absence is being felt by many.

He is survived by his wife, Ellen; his son, Dan Kern of El Paso, Texas; two grandchildren; his daughter, Katherine Knight, currently attending school in Belfast, Northern Ireland; a brother, Joseph of Ocean City, N.J.; and a sister, Marilyn Fernandez of Philadelphia, Pa.

In lieu of a formal religious service, Tom’s family and USM are inviting those with whom he shared his life, whether as his students, faculty, staff, or others within or beyond the USM community, to join us in a celebration of Tom Knight’s life on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, from 4 to 6 p.m., in the University Events Room, seventh floor of the Glickman Library, Portland Campus.

To offer words of condolence and share memories with the family, please go to the obituaries section at www.athutchins.com

Because of Tom’s love of his students' desire to learn, and his infectious passion for his teaching and research, the Biology Department is working with the family to establish a fund in Tom Knight’s honor for student scholarships. We invite you to consider this as an alternative to flowers. Details of the scholarship fund will be announced at a later date by USM’s Department of Biological Sciences, and, when the weather warms, we invite you all to plant a seed or two in Tom’s memory.

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