‘Godspeed, Bobby’

knightThe fire service suffered a terrible loss this past May when its friend, colleague, advocate and legislative powerhouse Bobby Knight passed away suddenly while in Washington, D.C.

A member of FASNY since 1982, Bobby was vice chairman of the FASNY Legislative Committee for the past 25 years. He had a long and distinguished career in the Fire Service.

He served as president of the Suffolk County Volunteer Firemen’s Association. Bobby was a 35-year member of the Sayville Fire Department (Long Island), joining the ranks in 1979 and ascending to serve as chief of department from 1994-1996. He was also former member of the East Hampton Fire Department (1975-1979) and North Patchogue Fire Department (1968-1969).

His legislative knowledge, experience, and contacts were unmatched, and of extraordinary value to FASNY and the entire volunteer fire service.

“He took what he learned crawling down those smoky hallways on Long Island to the hallways in Albany and Washington.  He never gave up, and we are better because of it,” said FASNY President James Burns.

A true advocate until the end, Bobby passed away while in Washington, D.C., attending a Congressional Fire Services Institute event. Just prior to his passing, Bobby joined his fellow FASNY colleagues at a meeting with Congressman Peter King to discuss issues of concern for the fire service.

“Bobby dedicated his life to Long Islanders and the fire service. He was a tireless advocate for the protection and best interests of the firefighter community. You couldn’t ask for anything more,” King said.

“Bobby Knight was a firefighter’s firefighter, a man dedicated to improving the lives of those who run into situations most of us run away from,” said Congressman Tim Bishop. “He and I spoke often about the need to fund better training and the latest equipment to ensure the safety of all fire fighters.  I will miss Bobby a great deal and would like to extend my deepest sympathy to his family and friends.”

“Bobby Knight was an indispensable advisor and a friend on all fire service issues. I listen to him, loved him, and will miss his voice, but I will continue to be guided by his lessons,” said Rep. Steve Israel.

As a testament to Bobby’s ability to work across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats alike, King also read a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives on behalf of the bipartisan Long Island delegation.

“His tireless service to the firefighter community has been invaluable, and his counsel was always sought by lawmakers,” King read. Bobby “passed in the line of duty doing what he loved – advocating for the needs of our first responders.”

His good friend and FASNY colleague Pete Casey recalled their time together on the Legislative Committee.

“He wasn’t much for accolades, but he was a driving force behind everything we did – the guy behind the guy,” Casey said.  “I remember when I was named chairman, he walked into the office and said, ‘This is what we need to do,’ and from there we went.  Bobby never wanted any of the credit, he just wanted to get to Albany or Washington and get the job done.”

Bobby worked for the U.S. Post Office for more than 30 years.  After retiring, he joined the Office of Suffolk County Legislator William J. Lindsay Jr. as a legislative assistant in 2006.

“Bobby was a dedicated public servant to the county, both in the legislature and in his home community of Sayville. My father and I share our admiration of Bobby and his tremendous work ethic, he will be sorely missed,” said Lindsay’s son, Legislator Bill Lindsay III.

FASNY First Vice President Bob McConville offered a touching eulogy at Bobby’s memorial service. He recalls a recent trip to Albany where Bobby’s first action upon entering the car is to turn on the scanner and keep an ear out for what was going on. Anyone who knew him understood the car ride that McConville took that day.

The FASNY family isn’t the only family that Bobby Knight leaves behind. He is survived by his four children, Mark, Sean, Rory, and Meghan, and two grandchildren, Lucy and Liam.

As McConville said in his eulogy, “Godspeed, Bobby. You will forever be in our thoughts, our prayers, and our conversations.”

– Michael Loughran