If you had asked Carol Jean Knox how she would have most liked to be remembered, there’s a 10-to-1 shot she would have replied, “As an ordinary woman who loved her family, loved God and loved her garden.” She probably would have added, “There’s nothing special about me. I’m just a plain and simple woman who lives a plain and simple life.”
But, while most of those words would be true in one way or another, they don’t tell the whole story about Jean Knox, who died peacefully in her sleep at home after a very brief illness on July 10, 2022, at the age of 79. Because while it is true that Jean did indeed love her family, God and working in her garden, and did, in fact, live a relatively simple life, most who knew Jean well would certainly agree that she was anything but ordinary. A woman of many contradictions and limited education, she would frequently amuse her family with her many curious contradictions and habits, like when she gave up Christmas to become a Jehovah’s Witness but decided she would continue giving what she insisted were “winter gifts” throughout the month of December, or how she frequently mispronounced words but insisted she liked her way better when she was corrected on it, or how she would often include parenthetical notes on grocery lists such as “Downy — to make the clothes soft” just in case the person doing the shopping might not remember what such a thing was for. And though she was known to be one of the most giving people in her family, she could also be defiant, combative and quite controlling when she didn’t get her way. Just ask any of her neighbors what they might remember most about Jean Knox, and they might say the screaming matches. Indeed, Jean Knox was a lot of things, but ordinary certainly wasn’t one of them.
Born March 26,1944 in Littlestown after her parents, Ira Trivitt and Katherine Trivitt, both pre-deceased, had relocated to Adams County from Virginia to raise their increasingly large family, which also included three other children at the time: eldest daughter Marie I. (pre-deceased), her younger daughter Shirley E., and son Mitchell E. (pre-deceased). A mechanic by trade, Ira opened Trivitt’s Garage on Flickinger Road in Straban Township, while Katherine stayed home to raise the children. Eventually the family would welcome two other children, youngest son Harold D. and youngest daughter Linda A., and would unfortunately lose Mitchell, who was killed in a motorcycle accident..
Though she had expressed a talent for drawing throughout her childhood, and had received decent grades, she opted not to attend college, instead choosing to start work the day after her graduation in a shoe factory. She worked a few other jobs during the next few years until she met and married Don Knox. After learning she was pregnant with her first child, Jean decided to stay at home to be a homemaker, putting to good use the skills she had learned in her favorite subject, Home Economics. A year after Donald A. was born, a second child, Kenneth E., followed, and Jean remained a homemaker until the children were teenagers and she began a series of part-time jobs.
This was about the time that she decided to stop celebrating Christmas and began attending Bible studies more often in the hopes of becoming a baptized Jehovah’s Witness like her mother. But she was still relatively young at the time, and between family trips to places like Florida, California, Canada and Europe, and maintaining a space in one of Don’s antique stores to sell the wreaths, afghans, socks and other crafts she loved to make, it would take Jean some 15 or more years to eventually become baptized as a Witness.
During the later years of her life, she became less and less interested with the world at large and became a dedicated homebody, finding connection with the friends and family who visited, creativity in the crafts she continued making, comfort and solace through maintaining her gardens and catharsis in her ongoing Bible studies. She stopped watching anything other than the Channel 8 news, “The Golden Girls” and the Hallmark Channel, and became more and more reclusive as her mental agility began to decline over the last few years of her life. But through it all, she remained as defiantly, consistently herself, and every bit as wacky and batty as that entailed, as she had always been. And while she may not have been as ordinary as she often maintained she was, those who loved her would likely not have had it any other way.
Jean is survived by her sons, Donald A. of Biglerville, and Kenneth E. of Gettysburg; as well as her sisters, Linda of Gettysburg, and Shirley of Hanover; her brother John of Greencastle; and her daughter-in-law Katy Mattson of Biglerville; in addition to many cousins, nieces and nephews throughout Adams County and the surrounding areas. Jean’s ashes were interred along with her late husband Don’s in a private celebration held Saturday at Oak Lawn Memorial Cemetery.