Robert McKnight was born into Depression era Long Beach, Calif. and grew up near the dairy farms, orchards and oil fields that dominated the area. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Southern California (USC), Robert’s planned teaching career was put on hold as he served in the army at Fort Ord teaching artillery and mortar operation to new recruits headed to Korea. His duty completed, he settled in to teach high school chemistry in the Torrance Unified School District where, through a 34-year career, he also served as student counselor, testing administrator and school psychologist. Early in his career he returned to USC to gain a Master’s Degree in Psychology.
Along the way Robert met and married Yvonne Oxelgren, a registered nurse from Saskatchewan on a work visa employed at UCLA Medical Center. They raised two boys, Thomas and Brian, in Torrance. Robert had a passion for carpentry and photography and his work was throughout the house. Travel was another passion and he led his family on many trips over the years that brought them to almost every state and province in North America as well as most countries in Western Europe.
After several years of searching for a new home up and down the West Coast, Robert and Yvonne retired in 1989 and moved to Mariposa, a small town in the Sierra foothills near Yosemite National Park. There they found a warm and welcoming populace. Robert was very active in the community throughout retirement. He served as both volunteer and board member with the Mariposa Museum and History Center and sometime historical actor on the grounds as shown in the photo. Robert was involved with the Methodist Men, the watchdog group Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Growth (MERG) and served on both the Mariposa County Mental Health Board as well as the Mariposa Public Utility District Board. Robert and Yvonne continued their travels, usually wandering the western United States and Canada with a travel trailer in tow, but also ventured to New Zealand for several weeks to explore both islands by car.
Robert succumbed to complications from surgery at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife Yvonne of Mariposa; and sons Thomas of Everett, Wash. and Brian of Smyrna, Ga.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Oct. 6, at 10 a.m. at the Mariposa United Methodist Church at 4991 6th Street, Mariposa. All are welcome.