Mr. Knight receiving the Three Star Medal of Honor from former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga in 2007.
Norman Knight was born on July 24, 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri. He worked his way up in the radio broadcasting business to become president of RKO General at age 29. In 1959 he established the Knight Quality Station Group, which grew to own about 20 radio stations in New England. Mr. Knight was one of the leaders and pioneers in radio, broadcasting, and cable television.
Mr. Knight created and developed the first complete documentary and public affairs unit in the television field and also in radio. He was a leader in the fight against communism and personally produced 108 documentaries that warned of the dangers of communism. He received numerous awards from many organizations for this important work.
In addition to being a prominent businessman, Norman Knight has gained a national reputation as a philanthropist. His accomplishments are countless. He has received recognition from more than 50 organizations including the Junior Chamber of Commerce, U.S. State Department, American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America, Freedoms Foundation, Federation of Women’s Clubs, Professional Firefighters of America, and numerous fire and police departments, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, and American Red Cross. He has received honorary degrees from five colleges and universities. His philanthropy has also extended to the Boys and Girls Camps Inc., Kiddie Kamp, Conference of Catholics, Protestants and Jews, Crippled Children’s Nonsectarian Fund, Salvation Army, YMCA, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, Children’s Cancer Research Foundation, and numerous other organizations. He has donated a camp to the Boy Scouts of America.
Norman Knight’s philanthropy has helped in many public health fields as well, including cancer, kidney disease, and pulmonary disease research. He was one of the first to begin anti-smoking programs. He has been a leader in promoting hyperbaric medicine, and has permanently endowed the Norman Knight Hyperbaric Medicine Center at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. He has endowed two funds at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Norman Knight established the largest endowment fund of its type in New England for shelters for battered women and children in Boston. He has inaugurated and financed initiative with the elderly. Norman Knight now devotes 100% of his time and income to philanthropy.
In 1959 Mr. Knight founded the Hundred Club of Massachusetts, a non-profit philanthropic organization that benefits the families of police officers and firefighters who have been killed in the line of duty. Of 110 similar organizations in the country, the Hundred Club, of which Mr. Knight is still President, is by far the largest and most active.
Mr. Knight was a close friend of President John F. Kennedy and was one of his philanthropic and communications advisors. President Eisenhower asked Knight to serve on a special Advisory Committee and the two met on a regular basis.
The people of Latvia are fortunate that Mr. Knight has recognized their plight that occurred as the result of Soviet occupation. In the 1930’s independent Latvia had medical care that was rated second best in Europe. When Latvia regained independence in 1991, its medical care was that of a third world country. Mr. Knight has donated generously to the Latvian Medical Foundation, which strives to improve the quality of medical care in Latvia.