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Terry Knight

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January 10, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Terry Eugene Knight, who died Dec. 30 at the age of 71. His obituary was published in the Jan. 6 edition of The Herald-Mail.

In a life that was anything but ordinary, Terry Eugene Knight often "raised the roof" both literally and figuratively.

Longtime friend Andy "Huffy" Huffer worked with Terry at Mack Trucks for 30 years. Working conditions were hard and hot in the Heat Treat department, day in and day out, though Terry never complained. One day in the early 1980s, Terry told Huffy he was going to be off for a few days.

At first, Huffy had no clue what Terry was up to.

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"He just told me he was going to raise the roof," Huffy said.

Little did Huffy know that Terry and a few friends were going to put a second story on the Sharpsburg-area house Terry shared with his wife, Vivian, and their five daughters.

"He didn't have a very big crew, but they got it done," Huffy said.

Daughter Sherri Knight said no matter what her father was doing, he always worked until the job was done, whether it was on the job or at home.

"And that wasn't just for family, but for his friends, too," Sherri said.

Terri Decker said her father always was fixing up motorcycles, cars and lawnmowers for family and friends.

"Now, I will have to pay someone to do that," she said.

Vivian said she met her future husband in 1959 at a dance in Martinsburg, W.Va. She was there with some of her girlfriends and was impressed with the young man who was buying drinks for everyone.

"I thought he was rich," Vivian said.

She later discovered that Terry was rich in many other ways. Their relationship flourished, and in 1960, they married and went to live in Dargan.

Twin daughters, Bonnie and Connie, were born in 1961. Two years later, Terry and Vivian welcomed triplets, Sherri, Terri and Kerri.

"That was a huge responsibility to put on a 26-year-old man ... but he never second-guessed those responsibilities," Sherri said. "He just did what was needed to be done and made it happen."

One Christmas, she recalled, her father rebuilt three old bicycles, sanding and painting them red and adding new tires and handlebars. What was so special was that they were done from the hands of their father, Sherri said.

Terri and her father worked together to finish the basement of the home she shares with her husband, Scott Decker. With no more to go on than a picture, Terry completed that complex job - to no one's surprise.

"Until the day he died, dad was thinking about projects," Sherri said.

Huffy said before Terry retired from Mack, he usually was working the second shift.

"He'd go home, get a little sleep and them be up early doing a project," he said.

Terry always was close to his daughters as well as the grandchildren when they started coming.

Jade Whipp, the oldest granddaughter, said her "Pap" was very special in her life.

"I lived here for five years," Jade said. "He'd do anything for his children and grandchildren."

Terry adopted their oldest grandchild, Mathieu Brooks Everline. Stacks of family photos show Terry and "Brooks" working together on projects, even at a very early age.

Terri said she and her sisters got their motorcycle licenses when they were old enough to drive a car - a tradition in the Knight household.

A member of the Old Timers Motorcycle Club, Terry shared his passion for Harley-Davidson motorcycles with family and friends.

A motorcycle ride is being planned in Terry's memory - an event planned by son-in-law Jair Barr, who can be contacted by e-mail at jbarr@myactv.net.

Gathering together recently to share their memories of their husband, father and friend, the stories that were told often were humorous and the mood was upbeat rather than somber.

Amon Moore, a longtime friend, told a story about how Terry once asked his friends if they knew when a 7-Eleven in Florida was open.

The joke, Moore said, was that many years ago, 7-Elevens were open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., hence the store's name.

"It got to be a big joke on Terry," Amon said, and his friends never let him forget it. Years later at a race in York, Pa., one of Terry's friends got on the loudspeaker and repeated the joke to everyone there.

"Terry just got on his motorcycle and went home," Amon said.

Still, those friendships lasted through the years, and friends and family say they never will forget Terry's unique qualities.

"He had some sayings, and we never knew where they came from," Huffy said. One in particular was his famous proclamation of surprise - "Ain't that the popeyed whip!"

That's probably what Terry would have said about the last two months of his life, when he was in and out of the hospital with an ailment that still is a mystery to the family.

"Ain't that the popeyed whip!"

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