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Robert Edward “Bob” Knox, Jr., 78, died Thursday, January 4, 2024, at Piedmont Augusta Hospital. A lifelong resident of Thomson, Georgia, he is survived by his beloved wife of 45 years, Dorothy Meadows Knox, and cherished daughters, Mary Ann Knox Cross of Charlotte, North Carolina, Laura Knox Furfari of Decatur, Georgia, and Dottie Knox Thomas of Thomson. Bob is also survived by his brother, Andrew Hall Knox of Thomson, and his sister, Ruth Austin Knox of Thomson; his sister, Mary Knox McNeill, predeceased him. He is further survived by five grandchildren, Dorothy Ann Cross, Oliver Roane Cross IV, Henry Austin Thomas, Robert Vincent Furfari and Samuel James Furfari; his sons-in-law, Oliver Roane Cross III, Joel Vincent Furfari, and Joshua Henry Thomas; and several nieces and nephews. The son of the late Ruth Hall Knox and Robert Edward Knox, he followed in his father’s footsteps to join and then run the family law firm in Thomson, where he practiced as an attorney for 53 years. He was a lifelong, devoted United Methodist and a charter member of the New Thomson United Methodist Church. Throughout his life, he served in nearly every capacity of lay ministry. Bob was an active alumnus of both Thomson High School (’62) and The University of Georgia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in English (’66) and a Juris Doctor degree (’69). He was a member and past president of the Gamma chapter of Kappa Alpha Order, a member of the Blue Key Honors Society, and an active member of the University of Georgia Alumni Association. He was also a graduate of the 1980 class of Leadership Georgia. As a young man, Bob served as Second Lieutenant in the Georgia Army National Guard.
Bob was a passionate public servant and leader in countless local and state capacities. After four years on the Thomson City Council, he was elected mayor of Thomson in 1979, a position he held for 29 years. He was a past member of the Thomson-McDuffie Airport Authority and past director of the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce. In 1987, he was awarded the Darrell M. Johnson Service Award by the Thomson Chamber of Commerce for exceptional service to his local community. He was known as one of the state’s most innovative mayors for pioneering city, county and regional cooperation. His vision for the development of critical infrastructure in Thomson and McDuffie County led to job creation and increased quality of life for its citizens. Bob was elected president of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) in 1983, becoming the youngest mayor to serve in this position. He was a board member and chair of several important local government infrastructure, planning, and energy organizations including: the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Georgia Municipal Gas Authority, and the Central Savannah River Area Planning and Development Commission. The Robert E. Knox, Jr. Municipal Leadership Institute, conducted by GMA and UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, was named in his honor in 2007 in recognition of his exemplary leadership and mentorship. Because of his experience, leadership skills, and political savvy, he was a frequent speaker at trainings for newly elected municipal officials. He also was honored as one of the state’s top local public officials by Georgia Trend magazine in 2004. He continued his public service work with a 13-year stint as municipal court judge and served as the Thomson School Board attorney for 37 years.
Bob volunteered his time and talents to many causes dear to him. He was a champion for the American Cancer Society and held numerous leadership positions for the organization. Bob was responsible for spearheading the McDuffie County Relay for Life, where he served as chairman for 18 years; his influence helped McDuffie County gain national awards and recognition in fundraising efforts and number of relay participants. He was a Wesleyan College Board of Trustees member, a member of the board of directors for the Medical College of Georgia, past director of the Thomson Boat Club, and past president and director of Belle Meade Country Club. Bob was a past president of the Georgia-Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America, was an Eagle Scout, and received the national Silver Beaver Award for distinguished scout service in 1980. Bob was among the founders of the McDuffie Museum in downtown Thomson, and his significant contributions of time and resources have led to its continuing success. He was a member of the Thomson Rotary Club for over 60 years, was past president and a Paul Harris Fellow, and almost never missed a meeting - even when traveling abroad.
Most notably, Bob was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and family man. He loved travelling with his wife Dot and was inspired by new places and cultures. He possessed extraordinary intellect and compassion, loved to read and do daily crossword puzzles, and delighted in attending nearly every home Georgia football game. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, January 7, at 3 pm at the Knox Home, 223 Lee Street, with Reverend Charles Broome and Reverend Dr. Sargent Nelson officiating. Bob’s brothers-in-law and nephews will serve as pallbearers. The family requests that memorials be made to New Thomson United Methodist Church, P.O. 539, Thomson, GA 30824, or The McDuffie Museum, P.O. Box 1025, Thomson, GA 30824. The Knox family will receive friends at Curtis Funeral Home Sunday at 1:30 pm; a private family interment will immediately follow the service.