Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Passing of town leader lamented

James J. Knott served Mason for decades

Enquirer Contributor

        MASON — This city is mourning the death of one of its favorite sons.

        James J. Knott, who had been a Mason official for more than 60 years, died Monday at Mason Christian Village. He was 91.

        The Mason fire station on Mason-Montgomery Road is named for Mr. Knott, a city firefighter for 40 years and chief of the Mason Volunteer Fire Department from 1949 to 1970.

        He became a police officer in 1949 and police chief in 1957. He remained in that post until 1975.

        He was also a bailiff in the Mason Municipal Court until 1995. From 1930 to 1938, he was superintendent of Rose Hill Cemetery in Mason. He also served as Mason's street commissioner, and, briefly, was a city council member.

        “Everybody in old Mason knew Jim, and they knew him personally,” said Rick Easter, a Mason firefighter for 20 years. “He was police chief and the fire chief simultaneously for quite a long period of time. We had a long-lasting friendship.”

        Daughter Marilyn Taylor of Mason said her most vivid recollections of her dad's career were of his work in the fire service.

        “When he would come home from a fire where there had been a fatality, especially a child, he just cared so much,” she said. “His fire chief's job was his whole life. He just loved the fire department.”

        Though he left the fire service decades ago, firefighters still made sure he was involved with the department, said Mason Fire Chief William Goldfeder. The former chief attended department banquets and usually rode along with the fire crews in parades.

        On Monday, firefighters put black bunting on department buildings, and flags throughout the city were lowered to half-staff.

        “We consider him still a member of our fire department,” Chief Goldfeder said. “Well before I had anything to do with Mason, he was touching lives here.”

        Mason Police Chief Ron Ferrell, who grew up in Mason, said Mr. Knott was stern, but also compassionate.

        “My relationship with James Knott was of a juvenile running around town,” he said. “Believe me, that stare that Jim Knott could give you, it could freeze you in your tracks.”

        Chief Knott was community-minded in his work.

        “He knew every parent,” Mr. Ferrell said. “All he'd have to do is hear (about a child doing something wrong) and he'd go to your parents.”

        Mason Municipal Court Judge David Batsche said his bailiff had a strong memory and could tell stories of Mason's days as a small country town. Judge Batsche first started working with him when Mr. Knott was police chief and Mr. Batsche the city prosecutor.

        “If he gave you his word, you could go to the bank on it,” Mr. Batsche said. “He had a very honest (police) department. He expected a high standard out of his men.”


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