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The unforgettable Murray Knight

Morinville honours community champion
MURRAY KNIGHT 1947-2022 — Murray Glenn Knight, seen here addressing Morinville town council on Feb. 15, died Nov. 8 at age 74. He was renowned in town for his quick wit and dedication to his community. TOWN OF MORINVILLE/Screenshot

If you have ever hung around Morinville, you've probably heard of Murray Knight.

Maybe you chatted with him at the store or at a community open house. Perhaps you saw one of the thousands of tiny flags he and his volunteers placed on every lawn in town on Canada Day. Or maybe you marvelled at how he whipped between witty remarks and accurate-to-the-penny financial figures like an auctioneer at a comedy show while speaking before town council.

Murray Glenn Knight of Morinville died Nov. 8 at the Sturgeon Community Hospital from sudden onset pancreatitis, family spokespersons confirmed. He was 74. His obituary was posted by the Prairie Sunset Funeral Home Nov. 14.

Morinville Mayor Simon Boersma paid tribute to Knight Nov. 15 during committee of the whole, calling him one of the town’s most vibrant and passionate volunteers.

“He seemed to be everywhere, either volunteering or participating in community events,” Boersma said, and his passing leaves a huge void in the community.

“He loved this community tremendously and never shied away from hard conversations or standing up for what he believed in.”

'The Murray Show'

Originally from Ontario, Knight started what would become a 37-year career with CN Rail in around 1965, said Shelley Rolfe, his daughter. He and his family moved to Morinville in around 1982.

Rolfe said her childhood with Knight was one of light and laughter. Knight would take the family on all-day snowmobile trips, and would often goof off in the grocery aisle by lobbing loaves of bread at his relatives.

Rolfe agreed that Knight had an unforgettable way of speaking.

“He was part auctioneer, part comedian, and everything that came out of his mouth was memorable,” she said.

Knight had a tremendous sense of humor and was very outgoing, said longtime associate Andre Noël.

“Everybody knew Murray,” he said.

In an interview, Boersma said he loved Knight’s talks at council, which he described as “The Murray Show.”

“Murray always had words, interesting words,” he said, and was never shy about telling you what was at issue in the community.

“Murray always said he did everything for the people, and I so believe that.”

Super volunteer

Council heard Knight spent some 57 years volunteering for various organizations.

Knight was president and many other roles with the Morinville Jets hockey team for about 30 years, said Brent Melville, the team’s current president and Knight’s nephew.

“He was the Jets,” Melville said, and the team probably would not have stayed in Morinville were it not for his volunteer and fundraising efforts. The Jets gave Knight the “Ultimate Jet” award in 2012.

Rolfe said Knight was always a giver and never hesitated to help others, and would help families with food and transportation so their kids could get to the hockey rink.

Knight volunteered with the Morinville Historical and Cultural Society from 2005 to 2022, often as its treasurer.

Knight was part of a group of volunteers who rallied to save the town’s convent and museum from demolition in 2005, Noël said. Knight led efforts to revive and organize the town’s St. Jean Baptiste Day and Canada Day festivities, and personally ran the Canada Day flag initiative, which from 2011 to 2022 (with 2020 skipped because of the COVID-19 pandemic) saw volunteers plant miniature Canadian flags in front of every home in Morinville.

Knight received the “Silent Hero” award in 2010 at the Town of Morinville’s Volunteer Appreciation Night for his volunteer efforts.

One lesson Rolfe said she had learned from Knight was the importance of giving back to others.

“The world is a cruel place, and kindness goes a long way,” she said.

Knight is survived by his wife, Renee; children Shelley and Jason; sisters Wendy and Penny; and five grandchildren. Donations in his name can be made to the Alberta SPCA.

A celebration of Knight’s life will be held Dec. 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre, Rolfe said.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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