Daniel Regis Knighton
January 1, 1939 – October 1, 2019
Dr. Daniel Regis Knighton, 80, passed away in Wilmington, North Carolina on October 1, 2019. Born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, on New Year’s Day of 1939, he was orphaned by the untimely deaths of his parents. After stints in the foster care system and the U.S. Army, he earned a B.A. at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a doctorate at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he completed a dissertation in the field of labor economics. His teaching career at Moorhead State University (now Minnesota State University – Moorhead) spanned three decades, during which he developed a reputation for rigor in the classroom, founded a successful forensic economics consulting firm, and served prominently as the president of the faculty union.
Dan will be remembered by many for his formidable and independent intellect, fearlessness as a debater, and reliably sharp wit, as well as for his lifelong political commitments to labor and civil rights. These traits were complemented by the passion he felt for his hobbies. He was a champion at racquet sports and an avid cross-country skier, but it was long-distance cycling that was paramount. He completed a coast-to-coast ride from Washington to Maine in 2003, as well as many other challenging itineraries in the United States and Europe (including many shared with his wife, Karen, with the two of them on a state-of-the-art tandem touring bike). Even as his vision worsened due to macular degeneration, he continued to take pleasure in books, playing and listening to bluegrass, and the sometimes tortured fandom that came from following Tarheel basketball and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chief among his survivors is his wife, Karen, with whom he recently celebrated fifty years of marriage; they retired to Southport, North Carolina in 1999 after more than thirty years in the Red River Valley region of the northern plains. He is also survived by the following: a daughter, Jennifer Lynn DeVito, of Hermosa Beach, California; a son, Andrew Lyndon Knighton, of Los Angeles; two grandsons, Jordan Jeffrey DeVito and Judson Robert Knighton Brill; and his mother-in-law, Evelyn “Peppermint” Perryman. Other extended family is concentrated in the Southport area and in central and eastern Pennsylvania. He is preceded in death by his oldest son, Daniel Judson Knighton; his brother, William Knighton; and his parents, Margaret R. Hagula Knighton and Regis Edward “Rege” Knighton.
The family will miss Dan profoundly and will memorialize him privately, with wishes for boundless horizons and eternal tailwinds. Memorial donations may be made to either the American Macular Degeneration Foundation or the American Civil Liberties Union.
Online condolences may be made at www.peacocknewnamwhite.com.
Peacock - Newnam & White Funeral and Cremation Service, Southport, NC.
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Daniel Regis Knighton
October 14, 2019
I am so sorry for your loss. Dan will be missed by many.
October 12, 2019
Sending my sympathies. I hold dear the memories of visiting with you, including those days of butchering chickens and chasing children around the farmsite.
October 12, 2019
In the early 1980s, I took a 200-level economics course as a prerequisite to an MBA degree at Moorhead State University. I was in my early 30s and was probably a bit smug about taking an "easy" class. To this day, it's the most memorable class I've ever taken. Dr. Knighton could hold your attention forever. He was witty, informed, assertive, and certainly one of the most intelligent individuals ever to walk the halls of MSU. I still recall writing a paper on "trickle-down" economics and learning more from after-class discussions with him than from the "research" I did individually. He had the gift of engaging one's attention that very few people possess. And he had the ability to make you "feel" a cause like no one else. My sympathies to Dr. Knighton's family.
Mark Kolstad - Fargo, ND
October 11, 2019
To Dr. Knighton’s family — I was a student at Moorhead State a long, long time ago, but I would like to share a remembrance of an interaction that Dr. Knighton and I had back then. I had recently finished four years in the military and was a brand new student at MSU. My major was Mass Communications, because I wanted to be the next Woodward or Bernstein (back when we held our Presidents to a much higher standard of accountability...). I was getting minors in Economics and Political Science, and Dr. Knighton taught me in micro-economics in my second quarter at the university. (Olde Frothingslosh Pale Stale Ale came up frequently in his lectures!)
In his role as Chair of the Econ department, Dr. Knighton actively recruited me to switch to Econ as my major, or to get a double major. I responded in all honesty that I didn’t now how I could earn a living with an Economics degree. I proceeded to complete my degree, and go to work at WDAY, where Dan hosted a talk show for some years.
About two years later I was tired of following fire trucks, and other meaningless reporting tasks. Someone suggested that I apply to get into the MS program for Ag Economics at NDSU. The idea sounded intriguing to me, and long story short, I was accepted, completed the degree and had a long and rewarding career in agriculture.
Turns out you CAN earn a living with a degree in Economics. I wonder how my life might have turned out differently if I had followed Dr. Knighton’s advice when he first offered it. One way or the other, he was right, and I appreciated what he taught me as a student and also as a mentor.
His personality and intellect make him one of the best instructors that I ever had at any level of my education.
Thank you, Dan Knighton!
October 10, 2019
Thanks for being the Big Guy
October 10, 2019
So sorry to hear of Dan's passing....hugs to you Karen and to Jennifer, Andrew and the rest of the family. What a wonderful tribute that described perfectly the Dan I remember! I hope you know that there are many here also remembering your time at MSUM...some students may not be remembering fondly but hopefully have since determined that they really "earned" the grade Dan gave them!! Karen, feel free to call if you need to talk or email or text even--you can find me on Facebook too. Take care of each other as you walk thru the grieving path.