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Judge Knight gives program to Dayton historians

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    Contributed photo — County Judge Jay Knight gave the presentations at the last meeting of the Dayton Historical Society.

The Dayton Historical Society met Monday evening Jan. 27 at Parker Hall with 36 members in attendance. President Danny Bode called the meeting to order and asked Johnny Miller to lead the prayer, followed by pledges to the flags led by Cathy Harbour.

After minutes were read and the treasurer’s report given, Larry Wadzeck gave introduction to Liberty County Judge Jay Knight who gave a very interesting account of his mother and father’s families and their contributions to our community.

Jay’s family ties include the Moore and Rose families who had three marriages between them. His father’s family came to Dayton in 1930, his grandmother being part of the Moore family. Jay’s father, Joe Audway Knight, also known as “Flash,” graduated from Dayton High School in 1940. He received a scholarship to attend college from W.T. Jamison, with the stipulation that he would return to Dayton and work for Dayton State Bank.

Joe was playing football for Sam Houston State Normal College when the event of Dec. 7, 1941 changed his life. He joined the Navy and because they needed his considerable math skills, sent him to the A.B. Freeman Graduate School of Business at Harvard University. Joe then went to the Pacific to serve his duty.  When he was discharged, the Navy offered him a year at Harvard for an MBA or 6 months at Tulane for a BBA. He chose Tulane.   

In time, he did return to Dayton, honoring his promise to do so and became chief teller at the bank. That lasted until Jamison released him to become manager of the new American Rice Growers Association in 1949, a position he held for 47 years.  In retirement he owned interest in several magazine publications and raised cattle.

Jay’s mother, Mary Lea, was part of the Rose Family who came to Dayton in 1926 and began a trucking company. Mary Lea graduated from Dayton High School in 1941 and went to Texas Women’s College for a couple of years before going to work for a company in Houston. She and Joe married in 1950 and began their family the next year, with a son born in 1951 and Jay in 1955. Both of the Knights were integral members of the Dayton community and much loved. Now their son Jay and his wife Jan continue the family legacy.

After a short business meeting, a delicious assortment of refreshments made by Cathy Harbour were served. The meeting was adjourned.


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