MEMPHIS, Tennessee - Feb. 22, 2018 - Former Ducks Unlimited president and long-time volunteer leader Harry Knight, of Williamsburg, Va., died today of natural causes. He was 87 years old.
Knight dedicated much of his time to DU during a span of more than four decades, starting in 1973 when he was elected vice chairman of DU's Peninsula Chapter in Virginia. He was elected to DU's national board of directors in 1981 and was elected DU's 31st president in 1988. He also served as vice president of the Ducks Unlimited Foundation, now known as Wetlands America Trust. Knight served as an emeritus board member until his death.
"Harry was a true gentleman who had a great passion for conservation and Ducks Unlimited," said DU CEO Dale Hall. "He gave many dedicated years of service to DU, and without leaders like Harry and their vision for the future of wetlands and waterfowl conservation, we wouldn't be where we are today."
During his tenure as DU president, Knight oversaw the construction and relocation of DU national headquarters from Chicago to Memphis, Tenn. One of the high points of Knight's DU career was the 1989 signing of legislation that allowed Pittman-Robertson funds to be distributed internationally. The highlight for Harry came when he had the honor of introducing then President George H. W. Bush during DU's sixth International Waterfowl Symposium after the signing.
"Harry was that unique individual who felt equally at home on the stage and in the hospitality room," said John Tomke, DU past president. "He was even comfortable singing a duet with Randy Travis. He had Virginia charm, a tremendous wit and a love of banter. No one loved duck hunting more than Harry Knight and amongst the DU faithful, no DU President was more loved."
Knight was an avid outdoorsman who was passionate about duck hunting and was a long-time member of the historic Waterhen Lodge in Manitoba. He also frequently hunted quail in Georgia and ducks in Louisiana.
Knight was the retired vice president and general manager of Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Va. He and his wife Deal have three children - Harry, Kelli and Mary Frances - and eight grandchildren.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.