James Knight remembered for legacy of citizenship

James Knight, 3rd from left, is honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Affairs Council of St. Louis International Humanitarian of the Year 2016 gala event Oct 27, 2016. WAC President Deepak Kant Vyas, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Washington University Chancellor Mark Wrighton were also honored.

Tributes to James S. Knight were offered by leadership of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis upon news of Mr. Knight’s passing.  The only person to be awarded WAC-STL’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Knight distinguished himself with his dedication to civic leadership and international outreach.

“The dear friend of many of us, longtime stalwart supporter of the World Affairs Council of St. Louis and the only person to have attained WAC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Jim was a true gentleman and model citizen,” said WAC-STL Executive Director Robert Foster.

“We send our condolences to his wife, Janet, and to his family.  He leaves a wonderful legacy and will be terribly missed,” Foster said.

In Mr. Knight’s acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award, he said, “The World Affairs Council was founded in 1948, after World War II, by community leaders concerned that isolationism could return to the U.S. Their concern is still a valid issue today. I am very proud to be part of an organization whose mission is to inform citizens about international affairs, so that we can all navigate a better, more peaceful future.”

He summed some of his core beliefs in a closing statement:
“I love working with non-profits. The ones I have chosen to work with all have loosely related missions to enhance the human condition through education, training, or research. Among them are John Burroughs School; Crossroads College Preparatory School; COCA, which is the most successful example of cultural and financial integration I know of; the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University; the World Affairs Council of St. Louis; Jobs and More of STL in Ferguson. They are all builders of the moral and ethical capital of St. Louis — core values needed more than ever today.   I am so proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to serve these wonderful organizations and the city of St. Louis.  It has been a great joy.”

In 2016, presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Jim Knight, Pierce Powers, WAC-STL president, said, “Newell S. Knight Jr, JIM, and his wife Janet have not only opened their window, but their front door to the world in the 65 years that have celebrated together. They are proud of their four children, their children’s spouses and three grandchildren. They are also proud of the many visitors they have adopted through the  St. Louis World Affairs Council sponsorship of the US State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program .

“Amongst Jim’s greatest attributes is the generosity he exudes with his huge, engaging, effervescent and irresistible smile.  He began his business career in 1950 with Ralston Purina as a grocery store contact person. He later oversaw sales and marketing in the United States, Mexico, Canada and Great Britain with Warner- Jenkinson to then retire from the business world in 1984 as Vice President, the 7-Up company, a division of Phillip Morris.

  • He was born in Evanston Illinois in 1927
  • He graduated St. Louis Country Day in 1945
  • He served as a US Navy Seaman 1945 to 1946
  • He then graduated Yale with a BA in 1950

These past 32 years he served,  in accumulation, at last tally on 21 not-for-profit boards, and seven business, university or civic boards.

Mr. Knight’s obituary and details about an Oct. 27 memorial service are here.