The thousands of people acquainted with Kenneth Y. Knight, recently retired vice chairman of Sinclair Oil Corp. and president of Little America Hotel Co., know his middle initial stands for Young, appropriate because he is a great-grandson of Brigham Young.
But that initial also could stand for "Yes," since Knight has said yes to many people wanting him to serve on community organization boards.Because of Knight's willingness to serve his community, the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce will present him the Giant in Our City Award tonight in the Little America Hotel, an enterprise he led to prominence on the hotel scene.
Here are a few of Knight's accomplishments:
- Chairman of the board of governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, where he was successful in getting workers' compensation law changed.
- Chairman of the Salt Palace Advisory Board.
- Chairman of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau board of trustees.
- Chairman of the Economic Development Corp. of Utah board of trustees, a public-private partnership fostering economic development.
- Chairman of the Urban Central Region of Intermountain Health Care, which includes LDS, Cottonwood and Alta View hospitals.
- Many other community and civic activities.
Shortly after Knight's retirement in January, he said yes again and will serve as mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Canada Vancouver Mission.
Among those paying homage to Knight during the award ceremony will be Rick Davis, president of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, who said Knight has contributed more to the bureau than any other person. "It is unimaginable to realize that he has made a contribution to so many other organizations," Davis said, and he is "truly a giant to us and those who have worked with him."
Louis H. Callister, chairman of the EDCU board of trustees, said Knight has a "deep and abiding love for our community, including both its heritage and its future. Ken's commitment to our city and our state is shown by his creative and farsighted leadership and public service, which he has freely given year after year, literally for decades."
Knight was born in Woodland, Summit County, in 1927, but when his family moved to Salt Lake City he attended West High School and graduated in 1944. One of his classmates was Earl Holding, Sinclair chairman, and another was President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the LDS Church First Presidency.
After serving in the armed forces near the end of World War II, Knight graduated from the University of Utah in 1949 and received an MBA from Stanford University in 1951. He worked for Hughes Aircraft in Culver City, Calif., and several times met with billionaire Howard Hughes.
Holding, who purchased Sun Valley Resort in Idaho, asked Knight to manage it, and through Knight's guidance Sun Valley achieved a worldwide reputation as a ski and summer resort. Later, Knight became involved in Sinclair Oil and Little America.
Asked why he was so active in community affairs, Knight said, "You don't learn about volunteering, but you become accustomed to it once you get in-volved." He said Utahns are heavily involved in volunteer work and that makes the state a better place in which to live.
He said the Utah economy is in good shape and that is allowing people to do other great things. "Our future depends on how we make those choices to meet the challenges."