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Hartselle Enquirer

Clif Knight, former Hartselle mayor, Enquirer writer, dies at 88

Clif Knight, longtime Enquirer writer and former mayor of Hartselle died Sunday. He was 88.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he earned a journalism degree from the University of Alabama in 1961.

He began his career in community journalism as a cub reporter at The Examiner in Aberdeen, Miss. before joining the Hartselle Enquirer as associate editor in September 1961.

After honing his skills for five and a half years, he embarked on a new chapter, taking on the role of editor for the ‘Spinnerette,’ a bi-weekly publication by the Monsanto Company in Decatur, produced for its employees and their families.

What he thought would be a step along the path of his journalism career became a place where the Lineville native would plant roots and spend a career of more than half a century covering life in and around Hartselle.

Returning to the Hartselle Enquirer in March 1970, he assumed the position of editor and part owner, a role he held until March 1998 when the newspaper transitioned to Boone Newspapers, Inc. Despite the ownership change, he continued as editor until July 2000, when he decided to pursue a mayoral candidacy in Hartselle. He was elected and served one term. After an unsuccessful reelection bid in September 2004, he found his way back to the newspaper, this time as a staff writer.

His dedication to journalism was recognized with the George Washington Honor Medal Award from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge, acknowledging his editorial contributions in the ‘Spinnerette,’ championing free enterprise and the American way of life.

Knight chronicled many of the great athletes, coaches and championships in Hartselle sports history. He was there for Hartselle state championships in football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, golf and wrestling.

“He was just so dedicated to covering high school sports that he became a fixture at games,” Morgan County Circuit Court Judge Glenn Thompson said in an interview with The Decatur Daily. “He was always there with his camera and taking notes. You could relive the games from his accounts.”

Because of his decades-long career, Knight was inducted into the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame in 2021.

That is a recognition of which Knight was more than deserving, according to longtime Hartselle baseball coach William Booth. 

“He’s a special person and has meant a lot to this community,” Booth said in 2021 when Knight was inducted.  “He covered everything that happened in our schools and I’m not just talking sports. He’s had a lot to do with making Hartselle a special place.”

What’s more, he chronicled daily life in Hartselle and the surrounding communities. He covered everything from football games on Friday nights to city council meetings on Tuesday nights, officially retiring in 2016. Still, he retained a staff writer emeritus title, covering the occasional story and writing a weekly column for the opinion page.   

Photo by David Elwell

Leada Gore, former Enquirer publisher, said Knight was a “consummate newsman, who, trained in old-school journalism, adapted with the times while staying true to his principles – telling a story fairly and accurately.

“He loved Hartselle and his devotion to the city showed in everything he did,” Gore continued. “Even more importantly, he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. You may have heard “they don’t make them like that anymore,” but in Clif’s case, it is very true.

Knight is survived by his wife of 68 years, Geanelle; sons, Steve Knight, Cliff Knight (Renee); daughter, Pam Gray (Jeff); three grandchildren, Meaghan Hill (Joe), Brandi Gray and Amber Fullerton (Justin) and one great-grandchild, Layla Fullerton.

David Elwell contributed to this report. 

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