Civic leader Knox remembered

THOMSON --- Boone Knox, a civic leader, business Hall of Fame inductee and philanthropist, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 74.

Knox died at his home in Augusta shortly before 1:30 p.m. after a battle with cancer.

Knox, inducted into the Junior Achievement CSRA Business Hall of Fame in 2009, had two successful careers: one in banking and another in residential real estate.

He piloted the Bank of Thomson, later Allied Bank, to a merger with Regions Bank.

Knox also was the chairman of one of the largest apartment operating companies in the nation, Merry Land & Investment in Augusta, which merged with Equity Residential in 1998. He resigned from Equity's board last summer, in addition to real estate investment giant Cousins Properties, because of his illness.

Knox, a civic leader and philanthropist, can be remembered most recently for leading the fundraising campaign to bring the Salvation Army Kroc Center to downtown Augusta.

"The Kroc Center campaign absolutely could not have succeeded without Boone's leadership," said Salvation Army Capt. Todd Mason. "He led a campaign that was nearly three times bigger than any in Augusta's history while in the midst of the worst economic downturn in generations. It's been said several times that only Boone could have raised the funds to make The Salvation Army Kroc Center a reality in Augusta. ..."

The center's signature architectural feature, a brick tower, will be named in Knox's honor when the 17-acre complex opens its doors later this year.

A year ago, Augusta State University dedicated the Knox School of Accountancy after a $2 million gift from the Knox Foundation in honor of his deceased brother, Peter.

Braye Boardman, who, along with his brother Clay, has been involved with many historic preservation and redevelopment projects, said Knox was among the area's most generous and influential businessmen.

"It's a monumental loss for his family and our community," Boardman said. "He will be missed by family, friends and all who knew him."

From a business perspective, Thomson lawyer Bill Wheeler said, Knox "was one of the smartest men I've ever known."

As a golfer, he said, Knox, "... was an excellent golfer and a lot of fun to play with. He was a scratch golfer. He always shot around par."

Knox was a member of Augusta National Golf Club and played in the British Amateur in 1974.

Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry worked for Knox as a bank loan officer for many years when Regions Bank was known as Bank of Thomson and later Allied Bank.

"I've lost a friend and a gentleman that I really admired," Usry said. "Our community and those in the CSRA have lost a tremendous asset. He encouraged me and so many others to set high goals, to be ambitious in the things we undertook and to come out successful in the end."

Knox celebrated his 74th birthday Dec. 21 by having someone drive him from his home to the Knox Foundation in Thomson. It was the last time Knox would visit there as his illness worsened.

It didn't keep him, however, from wanting to spend time with his friends, such as Jim Alfriend, who knew Knox for more than 30 years.

"My most sincere and heartfelt thoughts and prayers for his family," Alfriend said. "He truly loved his family and was so proud of them. Boone directly and indirectly helped so many people that he came into contact with. I was fortunate to have been one of them. I can guarantee you this: When people remember Boone, they'll have smiles on their faces and in their hearts."

Knox is survived by his wife, George-Ann, and their three children and spouses, Elizabeth Knox Hopkins and William Cunningham Hopkins, Jefferson Boone Aiken Knox and Catherine Davis Knox, and Charles Edward Knox and Kimberly Nations Knox; and 12 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Sacred Heart Cultural Center in Augusta at 3 p.m. Monday.

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