Robert Van McKnight passed away on March 12, 2021 surrounded by his family. McKnight led a colorful, productive, and distinguished life. He joined the US Navy at age 17 and served from 1961 to 1993. During his career with the Navy, he served aboard the USS Yorktown and USS Meyerkord. McKnight was honored to be the Officer of the Day on the USS Arizona during the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. McKnight was active in the political arena. He started with John Kennedy as a valet. He later served as a campaign manager for John Glenn’s presidential campaign and Ronald Coleman’s campaign for Congress in the 16th District. McKnight was President of the Magoffin Home Association during the 1980’s. The Magoffin Home Association, along with Jay J. Armes, helped stop the state of Texas from closing the Magoffin Home. McKnight was responsible for setting up meetings between Phil Gramm and the Job Corps which brought Gramm to El Paso. Gramm toured the center and appreciated the benefits of the program which was reported to then President Ronald Reagan. Funding for the El Paso Job Corps was reinstated due to Gramm’s visit. McKnight was also involved in launching a Navy ROTC program at the University of El Paso which was denied by Diana Natalicio. McKnight is preceded in death by his mother, Maria M. McKnight, father, George H. McKnight, and daughter, Lupita McKnight. He is survived by his children Beatriz McKnight, Priscilla “Gigi” Smith, Robert V. McKnight, Jr., and Mariel McKnight; sisters Gigi Mayea and Emma Caylor; grandchildren Ryan Salas, Peter Ramos, Cristina Ramos, Zoe McKnight, Robert Smith, and Matthew Smith; great granddaughter Aurora Joy Ramos. Gathering is at Martin Funeral Home – West on Sunday, March 28th from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Rosary Service is at 7:00 p.m. Mass will be held on Monday, March 29th at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 8:30 a.m. Burial will follow mass for immediate family members due to current restrictions.
Beatriz McKnight, Daughter
Priscilla “Gigi” McKnight, Daughter
Robert V. McKnight Jr., Son
Mariel McKnight, Daughter
McKnight is preceded in death by his mother, Maria M. McKnight, father, George H. McKnight, and daughter, Lupita McKnight.
McKnight is also survived by his grandchildren Ryan Salas, Peter Ramos, Cristina Ramos, Zoe McKnight, Robert Smith, and Matthew Smith; great granddaughter Aurora Joy Ramos; sisters Gigi Mayea and Emma Caylor.