The 'Headers In Life & Legend
by Russell W. Knight


Russell W. Knight, 91 author, philanthropist

MARBLEHEAD (Saturday, February 12, 1994) -- Russell W. Knight, 91, 6 Calumet Lane, an industrialist who devoted his retirement to the preservation of Marblehead's long history through writing and philanthropy, died yesterday at his late residence.

A lifelong resident of the historic seaside town, the son of the late Archie Selman and Laura (Weed) Knight, he could trace the history of his Marblehead family back to the 1600's. In 1775 one of his direct ancestors commanded an American privateer vessel in a looting operation on Prince Edward Island.

Mr. Knight attended Marblehead schools and graduated from Essex Agricultural School before entering the real estate field during the Depression and investing in an industrial center in Lawrence.

He served for many years as president, treasurer and director of Everett Mill Properties, Inc. and treasurer and director of Sutton Hill Co., Inc., both in Lawrence. He also served as vice president and trustee of Essex Broadway Bank and chairman of the board of directors of Bay State Merchants National Bank, both of Lawrence and director of the Massachusetts Electric Co. and Essex Co. in Boston.

Mr. Knight served the Town as chairman of the Marblehead Sewer Commission. His many memberships included the American Antiquarian Society, Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Essex Institute, Manuscript Society and Lawrence Historical Committee. He was councilor of the Massachusetts Historical Society, vice president of the Marblehead Historical Society and trustee of the Peabody Institute of Salem and Washington Crossing Foundation.

He also belonged to the Algonquin Club, Club of Odd Volumes and Down Town Club, all of Boston.

In 1969, as 50 residents descended on Abbot Hall to protest a proposed 22-unit duplex housing development planned for West Shore Drive, Mr. Knight told the Planning Board he had purchased the 2-acre site and planned to keep the land in its natural state.

However, his donations of historical material were even more spectacular. he donated a collection of 350 manuscripts relating to Elbridge Gerry, John Adams, Samuel Adams and other patriots of the Revolutionary War to the Massachusetts Historical Society; an important painting of General John Glover, Marblehead hero of the Revolutionary War, to Washington Crossing Park Commission in Pennsylvania; a collection of maritime art to the Peabody Museum of Salem, so large that the museum dedicated a special section to it.

His many contributions to the Town from his large collection of Marblehead memorabilia include another portrait of Gen. Glover and a rendering of "Washington Crossing the Delaware."

In 1989 he adopted the bronze statue of Gen. Glover which stands in the Commonwealth Avenue median strip in Boston, donating funds to maintain it.

Mr. Knight's writings and lectures focused on the history of Marblehead and the area. His crowning achievement was "The 'Headers in Life and Legend," which included a lifetime collection of historical vignettes as well as the Town's role in history. Proceeds from the book, which was published in Marblehead, were donated to a scholarship fund.

Mr. Knight leaves his wife, Martha Tibbets (Alden), a former stage and motion picture actress whom he married in January 1951. Mrs. Knight was an actress at Columbia Pictures and Warner Brothers, where she played Pat O'Brien's sweetheart in the film, "Ceiling Zero."

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