John Franklin Knight died Monday, Sept. 21, at 88, after a long illness.
Knight joined the Long Beach Yacht Club in 1960 — before the clubhouse was built — and held life member status. He and his wife Joan were the first couple to have a wedding reception at the club.
He served as Commodore in 1984, the year Olympic sailing races took place in Long Beach, and Knight was named as Venue Deputy. As Commodore, he sailed his 45-foot ketch, Dom Perignon. Prior to that, he had a Catalina 30 in the 1970s and a 15-foot sailboat in the 1960s. Family members say he enjoyed traveling the world, but some of his happiest memories were cruising along the California coast, especially around Catalina Island.
Knight served LBYC as regatta chairman of the La Paz-Cabo San Lucas Race, and was a key player in the formation of the “Friday Forkers,” a weekly yachtsmen lunch, as well as the Amateur Radio Club and Wine Committee. He was active in Race Committee, youth sailing and swimming programs. For many years he served as the club’s historian and during his year as Commodore, the roster was printed in color for the first time.
Many LBYC members agree the Knights brought a level of elegance to the club. As a couple, they were the most welcoming of hosts. They hosted many judges and VIPs. Congressional Cup skipper Ted Turner returned the hospitality by inviting them as his guests when he raced in Americas Cup.
Knight was born in Clifton, Ariz., and his family moved to Long Beach where he attended local schools before going on to graduate from USC with a degree in architecture.
After college he served as a captain in the USAF Reserve and spent three years on active duty. When he returned home, he started his successful career in commercial real estate.
John designed and built two shopping centers, one on Naples Island and one in the San Fernando Valley. He founded the Naples Island Business Association, was a Founders Club Member of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association and a charter member of the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Knight is survived by his wife of 58 years, Joan; his children John Knight (Liz), Holly Hansen (Joe) and Ben Knight, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Shriners’ Hospital for Children.