Remarks below are taken from a talk given by Rose Marie Porter Knott at the 20th Anniversary of the Knott Scholarship Funds
Marion Isabel Burk and Henry Joseph Knott met, courted, and were married in 1928 in Baltimore, and spent the next 67 years building a life together and, in turn, sharing the benefits of that life with their family and community.
Neither of these people had the benefit of a college education, nor did they have any money as they began their journey together. What they did have was great faith in one another, their religious beliefs, and an incredible commitment to the life they had chosen.
Their first ten years saw them through the Depression, with Henry taking any job available, including an oil rigger in Aruba, and a tomato truck driver, while Marion was getting her “Ph.D. in dollar stretching” as she managed the clothing and feeding of their six children: five girls and one boy. They were a persevering and determined young couple whose philosophy was “God Will Provide.”
With World War II on the horizon, Henry found a banker who believed in him and loaned him the money to bid on a government housing project for the war effort. No one could have predicted the benefits that would be reaped from the faith that one person had in our father. By their twentieth wedding anniversary they had added an additional three girls and three boys, moved from a row house to an eight-bedroom home, and were breathing much more easily due to their growing savings account and a flourishing business.
In the 1950’s Henry’s business expanded as he began developing property. Henry also became very active in his community, his church, and politics, and sat on numerous charitable and business boards. He raised millions of dollars for charities and always felt he could not ask others to give if he could not match them. His name became synonymous with giving.
The Knott household was, to say the least, lively. All the children attended Catholic schools. Henry and Marion worked well together in rearing their children—Henry was a strict disciplinarian and Marion was the nurturing and loving half. They both instilled a very strict and tough work ethic that taught you did not stop until the job was completed and completed correctly.
Their religious fervor was also taught. Mass was an everyday event for all school-age children, grace was said before and after all meals, the family said the rosary every night after dinner—every night—dates or no dates. The telephone was outlawed after 7 p.m.
Their philosophy on life can best be summed up in three quotes they often shared with their children:
“You are only entitled to what you work for.”
“Don’t talk about it—do it.”
“Be prepared—it was not raining when Noah built the ark.”
Marion and Henry Knott left their mark in the Baltimore area in the financial support have given the cultural, educational, medical, and scientific institutions of their community.
Henry and Marion were strong believers in Catholic education and its power to change lives. In 1980 the Marion Burk Knott Scholarship Fund was established to provide four year, full tuition scholarships to Catholic students attending Catholic elementary, secondary, and college in parts of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In 1988, the couple established a second fund, the Marion I. and Henry J. Knott Scholarship Fund. This fund gave gifts to Stella Maris, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as well as provides continued support for area Catholic hospitals, scholarships for the three Catholic universities in Maryland, and scholarships for Catholic secondary school.
These two Funds operate under the name of the “Knott Scholarship Funds” and have provided tuition support to over 1600 Catholic students since its inception.
It was the wish of the Knotts that Knott Scholars become active members in their churches, communities, and schools, taking advantage of the great gift of a Catholic education.