Every friend or family member of Raymond resident Ernie Knight has his or her favorite story about him.

And on Saturday, many of them shared their favorites at Knight’s 100th birthday party, held at the Raymond Village Church.

At times during the afternoon, the vestry was scarcely large enough to hold the crowd that gathered to honor Knight as he sat in his chair, greeting his guests and handing them complimentary copies of his latest book. His Boston Post Cane, usually on display in its glass case at Raymond Town Hall, was by his side, taken out for the special occasion.

But after the food and the birthday cake, a number of people stepped forward to reminisce or simply thank Knight for the difference he made in their lives. Others chose to stay seated but didn’t hesitate to share memories of Knight with those around them.

“He’s a very caring, wonderful guy,” said Ed Haigler. “He’s always looking to help somebody.”

Haigler and his wife Sandy, of Pennsylvania, are members of The Wheelmen of America, an organization promoting cycling and pre-1918 cycles that Knight helped start in 1967.

Knight has been a member of the group since its inception, riding his high wheeler in various parades up until 1995.

Knight’s son, Paul, talked about his father’s love of physical activity, saying that he still uses his rowing machine daily.

“Knowing he’d have a busy day today,” Paul said, “he got up this morning, had breakfast, and did his rowing.”

Ernie rowed on the sculling team when he attended MIT. His love of the sport encouraged both his sons to take it up.

Windham resident Lonnie Westcott recalled how Knight, who had been a Mason for over 77 years, decided at the age of 94 to become a Shriner – “the oldest man ever to become a Shriner in the state of Maine.”

Over the years, Knight gained a reputation among his neighbors of being able to fix anything that was broken. To highlight this ability to the birthday guests, Connie Cross, Knight’s neighbor on Panther Pond, recited a poem she had written entitled, “Just Call Ernie.”

The WGAN tower climb is a story that’s elevated Knight to local folk hero status.

According to his son Paul, in December of 1959 ice had lifted the elevator cable off of its pulley at the top of WGAN’s 1,619-foot tower, at that time the largest freestanding structure in Maine.

Necessary repairs to the tower required two people but the company was unable to find a second person who was willing or able to make the climb.

Knight volunteered for the job and on Christmas Eve, at the age of 54, he made the climb while lugging the winches and come-alongs needed to move the cable back into place.

One of Knight’s passions over the years has been canals and canal boats. He traveled the world with his wife Louise to study them, giving local presentations and eventually writing a book on the subject, “Guide to the Cumberland & Oxford Canal.”

Knight has written five other books, several on local history, which is another of his passions. He was one of the founding members of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society.

Knight served in both World War II and the Korean War. He worked as an engineer for several companies over the years, taught school at Gould Academy, and worked at Hartley’s Marina, now Jordan Bay Marina.

“He never was motivated by making a lot of money,” Paul said. “He wanted to do things that interested him.”

Ernie Knight stands next to his high wheeler at his birthday party. Knight was instrumental in founding the Wheelmen of America in 1967, a group dedicated to cycling and to restoring and riding pre-1918 bicycles.


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