William W. Knight (publisher)

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William W. Knight
Born(1909-02-08)February 8, 1909
DiedFebruary 19, 1981(1981-02-19) (aged 72)
Alma materUniversity of Oregon
Occupationlawyer; publisher of
The Oregon Journal
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lota Hatfield Knight
ChildrenPhilip Knight
Jeanne Knight (Seppa)
Joanne Knight
Parent(s)Fred A. Knight
Edith M. Knight[1]

William W. "Bill" Knight (February 8, 1909 – February 19, 1981) was an American lawyer, politician, and newspaper publisher. He lived, worked and raised a family with his wife, Lota Hatfield Knight, in Portland, Oregon. Their son, Phil Knight, a high school and college athlete, went on to found Nike.

Life and career[edit]

Commonly known as Bill, Knight was born on February 8, 1909 in Winnebago, Minnesota, to Fred A. Knight and Edith M. Knight, but grew up in Roseburg, Oregon.

Knight received his J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1932.[2]

In 1935, he was elected as a Republican to the Oregon House of Representatives from Douglas County, Oregon; Knight was 26. He served one term. "He also served as a Douglas County deputy district attorney under Guy Cordon, who later was a U.S. Senator."[2][3] In 1939, Knight and his family moved to Portland, where he became "legal counsel for the Industrial Relations Association of Oregon."[2]

Knight's 18-year tenure as publisher of The Oregon Journal began in February 1953,[4] with the sudden death of then-publisher Philip L. Jackson from a heart-attack.[5] Along with the newspaper came responsibility for managing the company's radio stations, as well, including KPOJ AM & FM.[6]

In 1959, the Journal and Portland's other newspaper, The Oregonian, were struck by a labor dispute over working conditions. The strike continued for several years, with US Senator Wayne Morse calling for mediation.[7]

Knight retired in December 1971, at age 62.[2]

Family and end of life[edit]

Knight and the former Lota Hatfield (second cousin of Mark Hatfield),[8] of Roseburg, were married on March 4, 1937. The couple had three children, including twin daughters in addition to their son, Phil. Mrs. Knight "devoted herself to her home and to the raising of her three children." William Knight died in Portland, Oregon, on February 19, 1981.[2] His widow, Lota, lived on for decades, passing away on March 8, 2007, at age 91.[9]

Service and legacy[edit]

Knight served a term as president of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, in 1970.[2]

The William W. Knight Law Center, home of the University of Oregon Law School, is named after him, "in recognition of a generous gift given to the building campaign by his son, Philip Knight '58, UO alumnus and chairman and CEO of Nike."[10] The facility was "dedicated September 15, 1999, by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor." [10]


  1. ^ "United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch; William W Knight in household of Fred A Knight, Winnebago, Faribault, Minnesota. Accessed: May 24, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "William Knight, former publisher, dies at age of 72". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. February 19, 1981. p. 4A. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  3. ^ Strasser, J.B., and Laurie Becklund. 1993. Swoosh: The Unauthorized Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There. HarperBusiness. ISBN 9780887306228
  4. ^ "New Publisher Named for Portland Journal". Los Angeles Times. February 21, 1953. p. 6. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  5. ^ "Philip Jackson, Publisher, Dies: Heart Ailment Takes Oregon Journal Head". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. February 15, 1953. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  6. ^ Oregon Radio History; accessed May 13, 2012.
  7. ^ "Duncan Says News Strike Role Doubtful". Eugene Register-Guard. January 22, 1960. p. B1. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  8. ^ "Descendants of Jurian/Georgius Hartsvelder," Genealogy.com. Accessed: May 24, 2012.
  9. ^ "KNIGHT, Lota Hatfield January 22, 1916-March 8, 2007," The Oregonian. Accessed: May 13, 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Knight Law Center," University of Oregon Accessed: May 13, 2012.