ROCKLAND — “I don’t think anyone could have been busier than my mother,” said Celia Knight. “I truly don’t know how she did it.”

In her 88 years, Alice Crie Knight left a lasting impression on the City of Rockland and many local residents.

Knight, who died Aug. 1, was a High School Home Economics teacher for 33 years in Rockland. She volunteered extensively with the Maine Lobster Festival. She edited Rockland’s history books and helped the city celebrate the bicentennial in 1976. She maintained numerous friendships and helped establish major businesses and institutions.

Former Rockland mayor and local historian Brian Harden said of her, “Only once in a great while comes someone whose effect on their community can be said to be transformative.” To that term might also be added, “Inspirational.”

Knight was born during the Great Depression in 1933 as part of the Crie family, which has strong roots in Rockland.

“I didn’t want to be a teacher, but my mother made me go to college,” Knight told The Courier-Gazette in 2015. “In those days you could make your child do something even if they were 18. I cried all the way to Bangor to make her feel bad.”

Once she arrived at the University of Maine, however, Knight found she liked her studies and she graduated with 32 extra credits. She would later say that going to college was probably the best thing she ever did.

As a teacher at both Rockland High School and Rockland District High School, she cared deeply about “her kids,” as she called her students.

Celia notes that since the news of Knight’s passing, the family has heard numerous stories about the difference her mother made in the lives of various young people through her teaching.

The 1973 Rockland High School yearbook is dedicated to “Mrs. Knight.”

One of those is the story of Mike Robinson from the class of 1977. Mike was into motorcycles and wanted to make a Harley-Davidson vest as his project in her sewing class. To make it perfect, he needed a special orange thread  exclusive to Levi Strauss & Co. Alice Knight made some phone calls, reached someone at Levi’s and got him the thread.

“He wore that vest to my mother’s funeral,” Celia said.

Back in the 1970s boys, as a rule, did not take Home Economics. Alice Knight changed that, at least on the local level. She came up with classes including “Singles Survival” and “Bachelor Living,” to teach boys skills including sewing, cooking, balancing a checkbook and making a household budget.

Sports Director Ken Waltz remembers sewing a dress  in school for his girlfriend with her help.

The 1973 Rockland High School yearbook is dedicated to “Mrs. Knight.”

As a teacher, Alice Knight was in your corner. She listened to students and helped them when they needed an advocate.

She attended every Maine Lobster Festival from the very first year until her health prevented her from being there anymore around 2018. She served on the board and was the Parade Grand Marshal in 2007.

Alice Knight was known as a volunteer and leader in the Maine Lobster Festival. Photo courtesy of Celia Knight

She had a lasting impact on the festival in many ways. One that is visible, although probably seldom thought about, is the Maine Craft Tent.

It was Alice Knight who suggested in 1971 the festival feature Maine craftspeople. At the time she met with some resistance, but now it is impossible to imagine the festival without the craft tent.

Alice Knight’s work with the festival was likely transformative in part because she really loved it. In 2013, she told The Courier-Gazette she was out of state and told someone she was from Rockland. The person paused, wondering how they knew the place.

“Have you ever heard of the Lobster Festival?” Alice asked.

“Oh yes!”

“It put us on the map,” she said.

In the 1970s she was quoted saying, “I’ve been to every festival since the first. I figure if you live here you ought to do something once in a while, and you meet so many nice people. It’s always a pleasure.”

Alice Knight was Parade Grand Marshal in 2007. She is pictured with daughter and Lobster Festival President Celia, on the right. Facebook photo

Harden recalls her work on Rockland’s important history book, “Shore Village Story.”

“Since we could not afford to hire an editor, she sat with me three nights a week and we read and edited the text aloud,” he said. “She researched, provided images of her great grandmother’s photographs and helped lay out the book.”

With her husband Horatio Knight, and friends John and Sylvia Ross, they established The Maine Deck Marina & Restaurant, where Alice baked all the desserts. She worked there summers with Celia, then a toddler, in a little chair on the counter.

In 1967, the Knights purchased Perry Coal Company on Lermond’s Cove, next to the Maine Ferry Terminal, and this became Knight Marine Service, now in its 55th year.

Alice Knight. Facebook photo

Alice Knight was awarded Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce “Community Person of the Year” in 2010.

Knight also found time for friends and socializing. She had weekly “get togethers” with a group they called the “Club.” She was a member of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority and never lost touch with her sisters. They brought yellow roses to her funeral, per tradition.

In the process of doing all of these things, she was a friend to many in this community and took time to talk to and help all with their personal needs. She was patient and interested in people as Harden, Celia and others noted.

Celia concluded her eulogy saying, “I love you Mom, and when I write, I will miss you, my proofreader, and when I get dressed up, I will miss coming to show you my outfit, to be sure you approve and tell me, ‘Yes, it looks great,’ or not. I will miss you for the rest of my life; there will never be another you.”

In the end, dementia took Knight from the community.

Celia points out one of the final ironies. Her whole life, the family always had to wait until the Maine Lobster Festival was over to deal with other matters. It was the biggest week of the year for the Knights, comparable to Christmas for some families.

So, when did Alice Knight pass away? Two days before the festival. Celia was on the festival grounds when she got the news. And when we first talked about doing this story, she said, “After the festival…”

One can’t help thinking, Alice would approve.

Alice Knight with Brian Harden. Facebook photo

Alice Knight pictured with her family. Pictured are, Sy Knight, Chris Knight Jr., Bella Knight, Alice Knight, Celia Knight, Erik MacMillan, Skye MacMillan. Photo courtesy of Celia Knight