January 20, 2022
Louisville – Bessie Carol McKnight services will be held on Saturday, January 29th beginning at 10am with visitation and funeral service following at 12 noon at St. Stephen Baptist Church 1018 S. 15th Street.
She was born on March 18, 1941, in Louisville, Kentucky to Lucy Ellen Stewart (née Patmon) and Herbert Stewart. Bessie was an only child.
Momma was educated in the Louisville Public School system, graduating in 1959 from duPont Manual High School. Soon after graduating high school Bessie married Richard McKnight and to this union were born Richard Jr, Karen Elaine, and Kimberly Jo (deceased). Following the dissolution of the marriage Bessie and Van Ashmore were blessed with the birth of Giovanna.
After ten years as a married work-from-home parent, Mom rolled up her sleeves and entered the workforce using her skills and talents to provide for her children. In addition to successive full-time employment at Star Draperies, Big Boy Cleaners and Highland Cleaners, Mom also made time volunteering at the Southwick and Harris Community Centers teaching sewing and crafts to youth and adults. It was through these volunteer efforts that she was offered and accepted a full-time position with the Louisville Metro Parks Dept. Mom ended her professional career retiring in December 2021 from Spindletop Draperies.
Known in the community simply as “Ms Bessie”, our Mother designed and created everything from men’s formal wear to wedding gowns, blankets, seat cushions, window draperies, and everything between. She’s repaired innumerable toys, teddy bears, and other stuffed animals for distraught children. Frequently accepting no payment, she would tailor prom dresses for young girls in the neighborhood while also teaching them how to make alterations and repairs for themselves. Today’s popular culture would label Mom as a “maker” or a “fabric artist”. But seamstress was just fine with her.
Mom was a dedicated parent, committed to raising her four children as a single mother guiding, nurturing, and helping them to navigate the recently integrated school system while surviving the pitfalls of the Southwick public housing projects.
Mom was baptized at a young age, accepting Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior. In her youth Mom was a member of Grace Hope Presbyterian Church located in historic Smoketown. Later in life she joined St Stephen Church where she attended services until the pandemic and her health prevented her regular attendance. God called Momma home on January 20, 2022.
Continuing Bessie’s legacy are her three surviving children, Richard E. McKnight, Jr (Tanya), Karen Elaine McKnight, and Giovanna Duerson, five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and a host of relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers the family kindly requests donations be made to the Kimberly McKnight Memorial Scholarship Fund at http://give.louisville.edu/McKnightMemorial