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Robert W. (Bob) McKnight

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McKnight, Robert W.


Rochester: Died December 9, 2012 at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Bob, the only child of Althea and Sidney McKnight was born in Albion, NY on April 4th 1923. He graduated from West High School and served in the US Army from 1943 to 1946. After service he graduated from Clarkson College of Technology in Potsdam, NY with a bachelor degree in electrical engineering. From there he became a magazine editing student at the Syracuse University Graduate School of Journalism.

Bob combined his engineering and journalism skills in a career that spanned four decades. He began at Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corp as associate editor and eventually editor of Railway Age and Railway Signaling and Communications (a monthly magazine). He wrote many technical articles about Signaling and Communications (S&C) equipment on U.S. and Canadian railroads and rail transit systems.

In 1973 he became editor of The Signalman's Journey, the official monthly publication of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. In 1981 he became the Manager of C & S Engineering and later the Director of Engineering and Technical Committees in the Communication and Signal Division of the Association of American Railroads (AAR) in Washington, DC. He was the AAR representative on the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. In 2000 he was awarded the Millennium Medal for service and support to electrical engineering by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

In 1989 Bob retired and actively began to collect materials such as books, studies, and reports covering railway signaling over time from 1830 through 2009. He scan read over 100 magazines and publications from trade associations, along with those provided by state and federal governments (US and Canada). He spent hours at the libraries of the Association of American Railroads, Interstate Commerce Commission and the U.S. Library of Congress. In 1998 he donated his historic railway signaling files to the John W. Barriger National Railroad Library, where he served as an honorary trustee. In 2001 he received an Honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters from the University of Missouri, St Louis for his support and railway signaling technology literature.

From 1995 until his death Bob worked diligently on what he considered to be his greatest achievement - a book on highway rail crossings 1830 - 2009. This book which he titled; You Can't Beat the Train is currently being published by the Barringer National Railroad Library and will be available in early 2013.

Throughout his lifetime Bob was a generous supporter of his alma mater, Clarkson College. He also created an endowment at the John W. Barriger National Railroad Library. A resident of River Edge Manor since 2003, Bob actively supported the Episcopal Church Home Community as well as the Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI). Always a staunch supporter of public broadcasting, Bob generously supported WXXI Public Broadcasting and in 2010 was the recipient of the Associates Society Award given by WXXI.

Bob's passion for railroading will be remembered by his professional colleagues. Left to treasure his memory are dear friends, many of whom were touched by his generous spirit.

A special thank you to Strong Memorial Hospital 6-3400 Unit and the Sussman Palliative Care Unit for their excellent care and compassion.

A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, January, 20, 2013, 2:00 PM at The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, Episcopal Church Home, 525 Mt. Hope Ave, Rochester, NY. Contributions may be made to The Episcopal Church Home, ABVI, WXXI or a in Mr. McKnight's memory. . To share a memory of Bob or send a condolence visit


Published in Rochester Democrat And Chronicle on Dec. 30, 2012
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