Robert “Tex” McKnight at one of the Veterans Programs held at the old Many Depot. (Mary Brocato Photo)
by Rickey Robertson | Around The Town Contributor
Sabine Parish has always been a great place to live and when you live in this area you meet and come to know many fine folks. And many of these folks are special to each and every one of us. On February 15, 2019 our parish lost one of the most talented and unique people you would ever meet. It is nearing one year ago that he passed away and I have been thinking of my old friend and compatriot, Robert Lewis “Tex” McKnight.
Tex moved his family to Florien over 30 years ago and settled in. Tex was extremely proud of his Southern Heritage and of his Confederate ancestor, his grandfather, who was a Lieutenant in the Texas Cavalry C.S.A. and who was captured and endured the horrors of the Yankee prison camp at Camp Chase, Ohio and survived to come home. Tex honored his ancestor by becoming a Life Member of the Son’s of Confederate Veterans. Tex was one of the most talented people you would ever meet who could design and then construct almost anything or he could paint the most beautiful Native American designs on many things. After coming to the Florien area, Tex and Carolyn worked very hard with Mayor John Manasco and the Florien Free State Committee and from this hard work evolved the Florien Free State Festival. Tex would set up his tepee and would be dressed in buckskin’s that he had hand made and would give black powder demonstrations with his muzzle loader rifles and pistols. Many of you may remember that Tex ran the last shoe and leather shop located on San Antonio Avenue in Many La. He could repair shoes, boots, and any type of leather products. And you could sit and talk with Tex about so many things that pertained to history, historical events, firearms, and so much more. I loved his stories and yes I learned also from Tex.
One thing Tex was proud of was his service to our nation in the United States Navy. He was a proud “tin can” sailor who had served aboard a destroyer all over the Pacific Ocean and Southeast Asia . When John F. Kennedy became President he began sending American advisors to South Vietnam as early as 1961 and he also sent the destroyer squadron that Tex was assigned to Vietnam in early 1962. Yes Tex was in Vietnam several years before America declared they would assist the South Vietnamese government and army and would send massive amounts of troops and supplies into a war that lasted almost 10 years. But even in 1962 there were attacks by the Viet Minh and Viet Cong.
Once you met Tex you would find out he was very straightforward in his thinking and he would tell you his opinion on the subject. And if Tex liked you guess what …you had a friend that would stand up for you through thick and thin. There are not many people like that anymore is there ! One thing that Tex really enjoyed was the annual Veterans Program and Meal provided for all veterans at Many, La. at the old depot. With many military displays set up Tex could talk to you and could tell you something about every piece of military equipment and items on display . We sure had some good times at this event each year.
If you knew Tex you remember that he could not hear very well and he talked loud and he only had one lung that functioned. In late January and early February 2019 Tex, who had been bedridden was taken to the hospital in Bossier city, La. where he passed away surrounded with friends along with his wife and son. A Sabine parish icon had left us with his passing. After his passing a graveside memorial service was conducted at the Florien Cemetery attended by many of his special friends. And we sure shared some great stories about Tex ! But if you have an opportunity to stop at the Florien Cemetery on US Hwy 171 you will be able to see the grave marker for Tex. Stop by and remember Tex for a few minutes. Tex I sure think about you often old friend. You were a blessing to so many folks that you came into contact with. Rest In Peace my friend…….
Tex McKnight and Dean Lambert looking at some of the military items on display at one of the Veterans Programs at the old Many Depot. (Robertson Collection)
Grave marker for Robert Lewis “Tex” McKnight located in the Florien Cemetery on US Hwy 171. (Robertson Collection)
Categories: Special Feature