Former Ocean City Mayor Henry ‘Bud’ Knight Dies at 82
Photographer Donald B. Kravitz took this picture of Mayor Henry “Bud” Knight and internationally famous model Petra Nemcova turning the Ocean City Beach Patrol’s gold key to unlock the Atlantic Ocean on May 28, 2004.Henry “Bud” Knight, who served as Ocean City mayor for 14 years from 1992 to 2006, died Saturday night at age 82.“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Mayor Bud Knight,” Mayor Jay Gillian said. “Few people in Ocean City’s history gave as much time to the community and the local government. Bud served for over 40 years as a member of the Planning Board, Zoning Board, City Council and, of course, Mayor. Ocean City is truly a better place because of Mayor Knight.”“Beyond his public service, Mayor Knight was devoted to his family, his church and his business,” Gillian said. “Many people will most fondly recall him for his kindness and dedication to his customers at Knight’s Pharmacy for so many years. He was a true gentleman. Michele’s and my thoughts and prayers are with Mayor Knight’s family at this difficult time. On behalf of a grateful community, I thank them for sharing Bud with us.”Knight grew up in Middlesex County and graduated from the Rutgers College of Pharmacy. He moved to Ocean City in 1960 and later opened Knight’s Pharmacy in town.Knight was first elected to City Council in 1978 and opposed the repeal of blue laws that banned the sale of most goods on Sundays. As mayor, he was credited with establishing fiscal responsibility and securing an ongoing program for beach replenishment from the Army Corps of Engineers.In his retirement, Knight was an officer at the 500 Bay condominiums, where he lived, and he was an active volunteer in the Republican Party and a faithful member of St. Damien Parish in Ocean City.Knight spent part of the year in Fort Myers, Fla., and he was there when he died Saturday after a brief hospital stay. He is survived by his wife, Marie, and two sons, Jay and Todd. He is predeceased by his children Mark, Beth and Jeffrey, and his first wife, Joan.Funeral arrangements have yet to be made.“A truly great legacy,” said Frank McCall, a former head of the Ocean City Republicans. “I had the privilege of working with Bud for eight years on City Council. Ocean City is in his heart and soul. People who allowed themselves to be part of his life were better because of it.”McCall and others painted a portrait of a man who was politically astute but always a true gentleman.McCall said council debates often included heated and healthy dialogue — “but the next morning you could always have a cup of coffee with the guy.”“He would always say, ‘Hey Frankie,’ and I could tell by the inflection if we were on the same page or if we needed to get a little closer.”Even a former political rival spoke of Knight’s graciousness.“Here’s a guy I openly opposed,” said Keith Hartzell, who ran on an informal ticket with Knight’s mayoral opponent Jody Alessandrine. “And what a great guy.”Hartzell said Knight never held a grudge and that he was “so nice and gracious to me” after Hartzell was elected to City Council.Hartzell said he admired Knight’s ability to move on and his wonderful relationship with Marie.“It was a sad morning to wake up to that,” said Rich Deaney, who served as business administrator under Knight. “He was really a very quiet leader, and people didn’t always realize his leadership qualities.”Deaney said Knight often didn’t take credit for accomplishments and instead championed the people around him. He said that is the mark of a great leader.Knight took office at a time when the Flanders Hotel, the Crown Bank Building and Stainton’s Department Store all were in financial trouble.“He led the community back,” Deaney said. “The town began to flourish economically again.”Deaney said Knight was always ready to work and serve the community, even after the loss of three children and his first wife.“He was just a good man with a ready smile, sense of humor, and a love for family, community and his God,” Deaney said.“He was a great man and a great mayor,” said Mark Soifer, Ocean City’s long-time public relations director. “It was always a pleasure to talk to him.”“Last night, my grandfather, Henry ‘Bud’ Knight, passed away peacefully,” Sara Knight wrote in a Facebook post. “He was an inherently good man who knew the power of a quick joke, a well-written speech, and a firm handshake. He believed that anything and everything could improve with a little effort, and he loved being the Mayor more than anyone. His hearty laugh and desire to hear good news will be missed, as he was so loved by so many.”Knight’s son, Jay, said from Florida on Sunday that funeral arrangements likely will be announced on Wednesday.Knight said his father “contributed an awful lot to the island, economically and otherwise.”He said he worked for his father at the pharmacy and that he always stressed to treat people well.“He had Ocean City’s best interest at heart, and that’s what I’ll remember,” Knight said.__________Sign up for our free morning newsletter to keep up on Ocean City news.