By Supervisor George Hoehmann
Many of you may have heard about the passing of a good friend of mine and great Clarkstown resident, Robert Knight. Bob was Clarkstown’s Town Historian for the last 20 years and a member and chair of the Town’s former Historical Review Board for 30 years. We both shared a deep love for history, especially as it related to Clarkstown and Rockland County. Over the years, many people have relied on his depth of knowledge on understanding the historical significance of many properties. One recent example of this was the role he played in the preservation and eventual rehabilitation of the historic Traphagen and Budke houses located in West Nyack.
Bob’s interest in history was a lifelong passion. He was born and raised in neighboring Pearl River, where his interest in history started in high school. That’s when he became one of the founding members of the Historical Society of Rockland County, then called the Tappan Zee Historical Society. His affinity for the past even drew him to the historic house he lived in that was built circa 1920 in Congers.
Bob was a tireless advocate for preserving and saving numerous historical houses and properties throughout the county. The investment in time that he made to studying primary sources and archives brought history to life. He shared his love and knowledge of history with people of all ages throughout his life, always mentoring and teaching anyone interested. Thankfully, he was also an excellent and entertaining writer, authoring many news articles as well as four books about the history of Rockland County, including the Bicentennial History of Clarkstown. Through those writings, generations of people will be able to capture that passion and carry forward the story of Clarkstown.
Bob was also instrumental in helping my office coordinate Clarkstown’s 225th anniversary in 2016, where we created a small historical exhibit at Town Hall. Bob advised and worked with many other historical organizations in the region over the years. When people looked for valuable input backed by experience, they turned to Bob.
Bob was a truly great guy and will be greatly missed. Bob’s contributions to preserving the rich history of Clarkstown will live on, much like the history he brought to life for so many.