WATERFORD — The children of Gordon and Virginia Knight of Waterford are asking the Oxford Hills community to help celebrate the couple’s 70th anniversary, which is July 9.

They would love to have as many anniversary cards and well-wishing notes possible sent to their parents at P.O. Box 165, Waterford, ME 04088.

Gordon and Virginia Knight will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on July 9. Their family is asking the community to send cards of congratulations.

The couple, now in their early 90s, became high school sweethearts while attending Bridgton Academy together, marrying on July 9, 1951. While they courting, Virginia invited Gordon to meet her parents. It may have been nerves, but his future mother-in-law was highly embarrassed when she dropped a grilled cheese sandwich in his lap. Of course he quickly forgave her but the awkward moment became a legendary family memory.

Not long after they married Gordon entered the army. He was assigned to board a ship that would take him to Korea, but the first morning at sea he and his fellow servicemen noticed that the ship was heading in the wrong direction. The captain had been given the wrong orders but followed what he had in hand, steering the ship instead to Europe.

“Every time my father sees a picture of the Eiffel Tower he remembers he was in Paris twice,” said oldest son Richard (Dick) Knight. “And he never got to see the tower in person.”

Hard work is something the Knights grew up doing and continued even past their retirement.


Gordon learned to drive at an early age, running Spillers Express with his father and hauling freight from Portland to the Bridgton area. Virginia helped her parents operate Red Wing Poultry Farm, learning at an early age how to feed and water the flocks and collect, clean and grade eggs for sale. She served as trainer too, teaching her two sisters and brother to care for them as well.

Once married the two continued working as together they raised their four sons, Richard, George, Stephen and Michael.

Gordon spent more than 40 years as the mechanic for A.W. Walker, working on John Deere equipment throughout Oxford county farms and beyond.

“The whole family would get in the car (Dad’s service vehicle) to help, I mean, watch him work on a baler in a field that is now Walmart and Home Depot in Auburn and a hundred other farms where things stopped working right,” recalled Dick. “Dad always said to keep lawn mowers, tractors – all equipment – under cover. It led to strange-looking covers but it kept things working.

“He also told us to always check our vehicles’ oil and other fluid levels. He would tell stories about the people who didn’t and about the problems they caused themselves, like having to buy a new engine.”

Thanks to Gordon, it became a family tradition to maintain fluids and regularly change the oil, whether they do it themselves or take the vehicle to a garage.


“He had this saying since school, changing the oil makes the engine ‘work fine and last a long time’,” said Dick. “One of my brothers is still trying to wear out a car bought by the youngest, who couldn’t wear it out himself because of Dad’s advice to always ‘check the fluids.’

“Dad learned it from a great man that he worked with, Bennie Benson, and thought it a good saying to pass on.”

Virginia worked seasonal jobs as she raised her kids. In the spring she worked at Camp Waziyatah in Waterford with her friend Dora Gardiner, cleaning and getting the buildings ready for the kids to spend the summer. Then in the fall she would pick apples for Charles Fillebrown at Fillebrown Orchards and always came home with good stories about how careful the crew and the boss were when they talked about Virginia crab apples.

“Our mother made sure we all knew how to plant and harvest different veggies,” said Richard. “She taught us the hard parts by tending a garden and having us pulling the weeds.”

After the Knights retired in 1996 they took to camping. They would take trips to Seboomook or just camp in their own yard, sometimes heading into town to camp with Virginia’s’ sister Priscilla and her husband Lowell Stinson. According to their sons, Gordon and Virginia were always the first to camp out in the spring and last to finally move back in the house at Thanksgiving time.

The Knights also became devoted square dancers, traveling around to different dances throughout New England. They served as past presidents of the Swinging Bears Square Dance Club based in South Paris.


Virginia (left) and Gordon Knight of Waterford in 2015, volunteering at the Harrison rest stop doing ham radio operating during the Dempsey Challenge. Supplied photo

Virginia became a ham radio operator in her later years. She first became interested when she was little and a neighborhood friend taught her about ham radio. But her mother felt it would be too much of a distraction from her farm chores, so Virginia waited years before she found the time to pursue it.

“Later, she passed the test to be a ham radio operator to keep up with what us kids are doing,” said Dick. “And she has been on the road ever since, working communications for events like the Loon Echo Bike Trek and the Dempsey Challenge. You would find her at the Dempsey rest stop in Harrison working relay with the net control station in Lewiston.”

One of Gordon’s favorite pastimes is to go for rides and show his family where he used to haul logs out when he worked for Bourdon Scribner of Harrison.

“And to not be outdone, I always point the buildings where the log yards were and tell everyone how I wired electricity in them,” said Dick.

Even after 70 years Gordon and Virginia Knight continue their long partnership together and watch over their four sons and grandchildren Selena, Rachel and Travis. They recently welcomed their first great grandchild to the family.

“In sickness and in health” has been a serious matter for the couple, with Virginia taking Gordon to Lewiston 43 times for radiation treatments as he battled prostate cancer. On September 1, 2006, the two traveled to Delekto Brothers in Auburn, a normal routine until be became ill while doing business at the parts’ department. An ambulance rushed him to St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, where they discovered he had suffered a brain stem stroke. Virginia drove to the hospital every day while he recovered in the hospital’s ICU unit and rapid rehab until he was moved closer to home at Market Square Health Care Center in South Paris.


“The one day she did not drive her van to visit and got a ride in a car was because the van had to have an all important oil change,” said Dick. “My father approved of the oil change. He probably would not have approved of the driver and the car she rode in to see him.”

Virginia Knight in 1981 with one of the many chickadees she has fed and watched for years. Supplied photo

Isolating through the pandemic did not cause Gordon and Virginia too much inconvenience.

“For them it was easy,” quipped Dick. “They stayed home like the Governor said to and let us kids make the daily 100-mile trip to find toilet paper.

“They also were able to enjoy watching the birds around Virginia’s feeder, as well as other animals.”

But although untouched by the pandemic, the aftermath it has made it difficult for the Knights’ children to plan a safe celebration for their 70th anniversary.

So the family is asking anyone who can – whether they personally know Gordon and Virginia Knight or not – to please send a card congratulating them on their long and successful life together. The address is: P.O. Box 165, Waterford, ME 04088.

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