Bob Knight’s decision to stay in Vancouver wasn’t the best career move for a U.S. Army officer. It actually meant the end of his military career, Knight said.
When he was commander of Vancouver Barracks about 16 years ago, “I had orders to go back to Heidelberg, Germany. I turned them down. When you turn down an assignment like that, you have to retire within a year,” Knight said.
“I’d lived in Germany for 10 years. Heidelberg is a beautiful city, and they were looking forward to me coming back.”
But it was time for Bob and Paula Knight to think about their kids.
“We’d moved them around a lot, and we decided this was the place to stay.
“It was risky,” he acknowledged. “Coming out of the military, my job experience was as an airborne Army Ranger officer. While I had a comptroller’s background, I didn’t know how easy it would be to get a job. But I was sure something would work out.”
If You Go
• What: 2016 First Citizen award.
• Who: Bob Knight, Clark College president.
• When:4 to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2.
• Where: WareHouse ’23 Restaurant, 100 Columbia St., Vancouver.
It worked out pretty well for the Vancouver area, as well.
With a long list of community contributions over the past 16 years, the Clark College president has been named 2016 First Citizen.
“I’m flabbergasted,” Knight said a few minutes after the announcement on Tuesday afternoon. “There are so many people in this community who deserve this award, who are working hard every day.”
In his letter of nomination, Rick Takach Jr. cited Knight’s role as commander of Vancouver Barracks when the Army base — established in 1849 — was targeted for closure.
Knight oversaw a thoughtful and open process, engaging the community. That process “was critical to the jewel that is the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site,” Takach wrote.
After Clark College went through two short-term presidencies, Knight brought stability to a position that he did not seek. He stepped up when the trustees asked him to serve.
People who only know Knight in one of those two leadership roles “don’t realize that he is one of the most active community volunteers in our region,” said former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard — also a former Vancouver Barracks commander.
Pollard is one of seven former First Citizens to support Knight’s nomination.
Knight will receive the award in a 4 p.m. ceremony on Nov. 2 at WareHouse ’23; the restaurant and event space occupies the site of the former Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay.
The First Citizen selection committee is made up of former honorees and a panel of community members.
The awards reception is equally sponsored by the Community Foundation and The Columbian.