Funeral home owner carries on long-time family firm

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Mar 06, 2013 - 01:43 PM

Rosalind Knight has been in business for herself in Mathews County for the past 22 years, but she played an integral part in the century-plus-old family business—Knight Funeral Home—long before that.

Photo: Once afraid of death, Rosalind Knight of Mathews overcame her fear to work in the family business, Knight Funeral Home. She has owned and operated the business and served as funeral director since her husband died in 1991. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Once afraid of death, Rosalind Knight of Mathews overcame her fear to work in the family business, Knight Funeral Home. She has owned and operated the business and served as funeral director since her husband died in 1991. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

A North Carolina native, Knight came to Mathews straight out of college at Hampton Institute and set about teaching music at then-segregated Thomas Hunter School, which housed all 12 grades.

She met her future husband, R. Stanley Knight, at one of her first PTA meetings. He was not only a businessman who had inherited the funeral business started by his father, Frank Knight, but he was also a civic-minded person who served as president of both the NAACP and the PTA. At their first meeting, he convinced the bright new teacher to raise money for a piano for the high school.

Eventually the two married, and Rosalind Knight, who had a long-standing fear of death, was catapulted into the world of the funeral business.

"I couldn’t even watch a hearse going down the road when I was a child," she said. "But that fear disappeared the first time I touched a body."

Before long, Knight was helping to keep the books and prepare the hearse when it had to be converted for ambulance service. (There was no rescue squad in those days, and funeral homes transported sick and injured people to the hospital.)