Obituaries » Rufus Knight, Jr.

Rufus Knight, Jr.

November 8, 1944 - April 16, 2023

Rufus Knight, Jr. was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia on November 8, 1944 to the late Rufus and Bertha Knight. He was baptized at an early age and joined Union Baptist Church in Virginia Beach. He married  Loretta Swindell Knight on August 4, 1973. God blessed their union with a loving son, Rufus Oscar Knight, a devoted daughter-in-law, Laura Trovato Knight, and a precious granddaughter, Julia Alyse Knight. He was a committed and steadfast supporter of his family.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by his daughter-in-law and granddaughter of Silver Spring, Maryland. He is also survived by his brother, Louis Knight (Rani) of Indian Head, Maryland; sister, Geneva K. Johnson of Fredericksburg, Virginia; brother-in-law, Walter Swindell (Mildred) of Lanham, Maryland, and Reverend James Swindell (Annie) of High Point, North Carolina; and numerous nieces and nephews, including devoted nephews, Leo Purnell of Hamilton, Georgia, and Lester Purnell of Omaha, Nebraska; his devoted caregiver of several years, Diane I. Monroe of Gladys, Virginia and many cousins and friends.

He graduated from Princess Anne County High School (Virginia Beach, Virginia), Norfolk State College (Norfolk, Virginia), and Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Virginia). He was a star athlete on the high school and undergraduate levels. He was a member of the Norfolk State Chapters of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the National Society of Pershing Rifles.

After graduating from Norfolk State College, he served four years of active duty in the United States Army. In 1972, he accepted employment with the Lynchburg City Schools and continued to serve his country through enlistment in the United States Army Reserves. He retired from the Reserves in 2000. During his military career, he was recognized for his dedication and leadership skills, particularly in his role of Drill Sergeant.

Upon settling in Central Virginia, he joined the Cross Road Baptist Church. He found great joy in serving God through various capacities in the church. Some of his work included Sunday school teacher, usher, tenor on the gospel chorus, vacation Bible school teacher, noonday Bible study teacher at Agape Center and Deacon Board membership including the five years he served as chairman.

Coach Knight (as he was affectionately called by many) dedicated thirty-seven years toward helping young people in the Lynchburg City Schools to become their best both athletically and personally. His coaching/ teaching career began at Sandusky Middle School where he taught Industrial Arts and coached football and track.

He transferred to Heritage High School in 1977 and spent the next twenty-two years teaching electronics and coaching football, indoor and outdoor track. He held the positions of Assistant Football Coach, Assistant Track Coach, and Head Track Coach.

He enjoyed working with a long list of wonderful colleagues which included Coach Jimmy Green, the late Coach Wally Gilbert, and his dear friend Coach Mike Bennett.

Some of his greatest delights came in witnessing his young track athletes win Boys & Girls State Championships. He was humbled by being named Seminole District Indoor and Outdoor Track Coach of the year on several occasions. In 2011, he was inducted into the Heritage High School Hall of Fame.

He retired from Lynchburg City Schools in 1999 and volunteered with the track team for the next ten years.

The last years of his life held many health challenges. In spite of it all, he continued to give thanks to God and accept His will for his life. He always expressed appreciation for the outpouring of love, care, and concern from his church family, friends, and healthcare professionals including Reverend William J. Coleman, Deacon and Mrs. Louis Edwards, Mr. Anthony Tisdale, Mrs. Diane Monroe, Dr. Thomas Eppes, Dr. R. Lee Saunders, Dr. Joe Spagnola, Jr., Mr. John Blanks and the staff of Autumn Care, Altavista, Virginia.

After a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s, Rufus Knight, Jr. went to be with his Lord on Sunday, April 16, 2023.

An early morning graveside service (as he requested) will be held at 7:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at Cross Road Baptist Church, located at 191 Cross Roads Lane, Evington, VA. A memorial service will then follow at 11:00 am at the church.

Note: There will be no public viewings held at any time (as he requested).

….When my task on earth O Lord is ended, grant me a home above.

Acknowledgment- The family extends sincere appreciation for all acts of kindness conveyed throughout this difficult time.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.

Condolences & Tributes

Celebrate Rufus's life with a short message, photo or video!

Loretta, I was very saddened to see the notice of Rufus' passing. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. You are in my thoughts.

Posted by Cynthia Page on April 25, 2023

Mrs. Knight (Loretta), we want to express our sympathy and let you know that our thoughts are with you and your family. May the memories of your loved one give you peace and comfort during the days ahead.

Posted by Robert and SeRita Copeland on April 20, 2023

Sending condolences to the Knight family. Continuing to lift you in prayer. Howard and Arelia Langhorne

Posted by Arelia S Langhorne on April 19, 2023

Mrs.Knight and Family, Sending our deepest condolences to you and your family praying God wrap his loving arms around you all during this sad and difficult time praying for strength comfort and peace.🙏🏾 BJ,Pam & Imani Crider

Posted by Pam Crider on April 19, 2023

On behalf of all the track athletes near and far, thank you SO much Coach Knight for all you gave to track and field and to the athletes! You’ve left a tremendous legacy! ❤️

Posted by Bertha Knox on April 19, 2023

Condolences to Mrs Knight and son,family. Truly a great man and will be missed. Never forgotten.🙏🏿

Posted by Terence & Herman Calloway on April 19, 2023

Mrs Knight and family. You guys are in our hearts and prayers in the loss of Coach Knight. Coach was truly a huge part of my life while in High School and his life lessons were instilled in us all which passed along to my children and others while they were growing up. He truly made a lasting impression on us all and we were lucky to have had coach and yourself as part of our lives growing up. God Bless

Posted by Lacy O White Jr on April 19, 2023

My sincerest condolences on your loss. I am thinking of you and your family. Peace and love being sent your way.

Posted by Jacqueline M. Cabler on April 19, 2023

Loretta, Rufus and family, Please know that you are in our hearts, minds and prayers on the passing of Rufus. Rufus touched the lives of many and I am thankful for all the years that he served Cross Road. I have fond memories of the great choir practices and his tireless dedication to teaching God’s word in Sunday School and Bible study. Our family is very grateful that we had the opportunity to know Rufus and serve with him. We are continuing to lift you up in prayer. God bless and comfort you. ] Brenda and George Morton and family.

Posted by Brenda and George Morton on April 19, 2023

SGT Knight a very admired, distinguished professional man that I had the pleasure of knowing during my military career. He will be truly missed but God knows best. My deepest sympathy to the family. Chester & Debra Chambers

Posted by Debra Chambers on April 18, 2023

My deepest condolences, Deacon Knight was always a TRUE friend to my family and wonderful member of the church family. He will truly be missed.

Posted by Theron Smith Sr on April 18, 2023

To The Knight Family: My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Hold close your cherished memories and find comfort in knowing that others are thinking of you at this time. Cling to your faith, knowing that a loving God will strengthen, bless, and keep you always.

Posted by Delphine Mickles on April 18, 2023

Coach Knight, was instrumental in my life as a young frail high school young lady. I ran track at Heritage High. God allowed him to pour positive influences into me to encourage me to run on in more ways than one…. I Thank God for allowing him to be a “LIGHT,” to shine in the mist.

Posted by DeMonna Mack on April 18, 2023

You have deepest sympathy. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Posted by Kelly Parnell on April 18, 2023

Mrs Knight we are so sorry for your loss. The kids and I really enjoyed him as there track coach for the summer. He was such a nice man who will surely be missed. Until we meet again coach Knight RIH

Posted by Carolyn Sanfacon on April 18, 2023

To the Knight family. My heart and deepest sympathy goes out to all of you. Decon/Coach Knight was a inspiration to me and he will never be forgotten. Rest in peace until we see you again. Nubie

Posted by Chris Nubie on April 18, 2023

To the family: Coach Rufus Knight was my mentor! He taught me the importance of spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. I am bolder for Jesus Christ because of Coach Knight. I loved spending time with him because the great wisdom he would share. I loved the way he coaches EVERY player (didn’t matter how good the athlete - he got effort out of most everybody). I loved that he was such a great FAMILY MAN. He loved talking about his Queen (Loretta) and their family. I loved his DRIVE for excellence - no excuses. To this day, when I drop kids for 20 (push-ups), I think of Coach Knight. For Rufus, coaching was a ministry and he reached SO many! I look forward to seeing him in Heaven one day. THANK YOU RUFUS FOR LIVING THE LIFE …THE LIFE THAT HAS GREAT IMPACT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD!!

Posted by Doug Smith on April 18, 2023

Mrs. Knight. Our sincere condolences to you and your family. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽. Leechie and Delois Moss Saunders

Posted by Delois Moss Saunders on April 17, 2023

My heart is so heavy! God has called on of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing home. I’ve always admired his love for God and his commitment to him. He made a impact in so many lives and I personally thank God for the time I spent with him talking and learning. One thing I do know is, he is with the Lord! RIH COACH Love you Mrs. Knight and Rufus Jr.🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽❤️

Posted by Matricia Bellamy on April 17, 2023

Coach Knight always told me to “dig,dig,dig”…as I was transitioning to a new chapter in life. Later on, I realized he was only preparing me for the many challenges ahead in life. Coach Knight ran his leg of the race in exemplary fashion, and he passed the baton once he felt he had given you the appropriate armament to overcome any obstacle. Your spirit lives on in so many of us, and I’m thankful to be a part of his spiritual family. Rest assured that you trained us well. Worry no more as we all understand we cannot run forever, but we will run our leg of the race in hopes that we will make you proud. You taught me to dig deep🏋🏽 and I’ll never forget it. Much Love and Respect, Darren Thornton, M.D.

Posted by Darren Thornton, MD on April 17, 2023

Loretta and family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Rufus touched so many lives in an impactful way. He always put a smile on my face and I looked forward to our time together. I will always remember and admire his strength and determination. He will be missed, but his legacy will live on. Sincerely, Joe and Casey Spagnolo

Posted by Joe Spagnolo on April 17, 2023

The Hall family sends our deepest condolences to the family of Coach Knight. One of the Greatest Coaches to ever do it. #PioneerStrong.

Posted by Teresa Hall on April 17, 2023

Condolences for the knight family-on behalf of John Jefferson and Family!

Posted by John Jefferson on April 17, 2023

Loretta and Family - Images of Rufus rush to mind - bricks ready on Monday to issue to any of his running backs who fumbled on Fridays, an empty box which recently held a dozen donuts, his dress of full military reserve gear including boots on a Monday after an unacceptable Friday performance, his home-made starter “gun” made out of 2 pieces of 2 x 4 and a hinge. But the most important image was of a caring, dedicated professional who was absolutely relentless in his goal of pushing young people to believe in themselves, many times despite themselves. What a legacy for anyone.

Posted by Mark Storm on April 17, 2023

Loretta, My sincere condolences to you and your family. Thank you for always being there for me. Continue to trust God! I am sending a great big hug your way. Friends forever..... Love ya! Bernie

Posted by Bermette Beckles on April 17, 2023

What a powerful impact Rufus has made on his Church, his students, his friends, and his loving family! As you listened to his prayers you knew he was searching for the Heart of God. His study of the Bible was a devotion to becoming more like Christ. Thank you Rufus for blessing our lives.

Posted by Rev. William Coleman on April 17, 2023

To Mrs. Loretta Knight And Family, I heard the news this morning that Deacon Knight had transitioned to our heavenly home. I immediately went in prayer for you and your family. Deacon Knight was a a nice person. I will always remember the Gospel Choir rehearsal that would turn into a worship service before we left. May God comfort you and your family.

Posted by Rev. Howard and Marie Bolden Jr on April 17, 2023

Mrs. Knight, I am thinking of you and wishing you and your family moments of peace and comfort as you remember Deacon Knight. Coach, as affectionally called, made such an impact upon everyone's life that he came into contact with. You and Coach were the ultimate duo and I’m so sorry for your loss. Rest in Power, Coach Knight!

Posted by Frances Wood Chambers on April 17, 2023

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