Kenneth Edward Knight was born on August 7, 1938, in Lyons, Kansas, to Chester Knight and Martha Mildred Cain. He was raised in Rice County and left his earthly home on May 30, 2021 at the age of 82.
In 1957, Kenny married JoAnna McCoy and had five children: Kathy, Phil, Judi, John and Mark. Kenny and Tamara married in 1990. Together, they raised her children, Lindsay and Ryan.
Kenny attended country school before switching to town schools and graduated from Lyons High with the Class of 1956. He played football while attending Garden City Community College, then farmed for a short while in Scott County before returning to Lyons.
Kenny was a passionate farmer and cattleman. He, along with his father and brother, Donnie, formed Knight Farms in 1961. In 1972, they expanded their business and built Knight Feedlot. Other business interests included Bar K Bar Trucking and grazing cattle in the Flint Hills. Serving on the board of Innovative Livestock Services was one of Kenny’s most favored ventures of all.
Kenny received many awards and recognition in the agricultural world including the Stockman of the Year award by the Livestock and Meat Industry Council at Kansas State University, Lyons Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen Award, and Kansas Fairgrounds Foundation Wall of Honor. His most prized accomplishment was to have served as president of the Kansas Livestock Association in 1980.
Kenny firmly believed in forming business partnerships, especially when they benefited the cattle industry and local community. He had an interest in working with other community members and was instrumental in the development of the Rice County Community Foundation, Celebration Centre and Bar K Bar Arena in Lyons. He also served on a variety of boards and was a founding member of Kansas Ethanol in Rice County.
Being a member of the First Christian Church, Rice County Community Foundation, Beef Marketing Group, and Cattlemen’s Beef Board was especially important to him.
Kenny was a farmer at heart. Harvest meant long hours on the combine, but he loved it and welcomed riders of all ages. If you were one of the lucky ones to ride along, you would become educated on all things agriculture related, and hear stories from the past. One of his messages was that it’s always important to leave things better than you found them.
During the winters, Kenny enjoyed woodworking and spent many hours in his wood shop. Every family member possesses at least one of his creations: cradles, time-out benches, potting benches, treasure chests, cutting boards, and furniture of all sizes.
Christmas was Kenny’s favorite holiday, and he loved making it special for his children and grandchildren. Somehow, Santa always made a guest appearance, much to the delight of all who had gathered. Family Christmas caroling was especially fun, singing on the porches of many rural neighbors.
An avid K-State fan, Kenny didn’t miss a home football game for decades. It was a time and place for connecting with family and friends, old and new. One of Kenny’s Saturday traditions was wearing a pair of lucky purple socks, which he is wearing into eternity!
Kenny was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, Bob and David Knight, his wife, JoAnna Knight, a daughter, Judith Knight Hutton, and two sons, Phillip Alan Knight and K. John Knight.
He is survived by his wife Tamara, of the home, daughter Kathryn Knight Maxwell (Mark), of Manhattan, son Mark Knight (Sherri) of Lyons, daughter Lindsay Hufnagel (Shad) of Manhattan, son Ryan Boltz (Holly) of Lyons, daughter-in-law Susie Knight Loges of Lyons, and brother Don Knight (RuthAnn) of Marion, Texas. Kenny and Tamara have 17 grandchildren: Kelsey, Sarah, Amanda, Aaron, Alisha, Ericka, Rachel, Taylor, Eddie, Alyse, Chelsi, Luke, Adri, Alle, Hadley, Greysyn, Emry, and 13 great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind numerous nieces, nephews, friends, and colleagues who became lifetime friends.
Kenny was an honest man of faith, led a Christian life, and believed in enjoying life. He loved his family dearly and proudly served his community.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to The Rice County Community Foundation or The Rice Community Healthcare Foundation, in care of Birzer Funeral Homes, 214 West Ave. South, Lyons, KS.
Visitation will take place at The First Christian Church, 220 West Ave. South, on Friday, June 4, from 2:00 to 7:00, with family present from 5:00-7:00.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, June 5, 2021 at The Celebration Centre, 1145 East Hwy 56. Burial will occur at the Lyons Municipal Cemetery, followed by a luncheon at the Celebration Centre. All are invited. It was Kenny’s wish to have all family and friends gather together on this special day.