Donald E. Knox, whom many knew instead as “Don” or “Donnie” and who passed away at Gettysburg Hospital on Jan. 5 from complications from Covid-19, would probably not have wanted to be remembered as someone who died of a deadly pandemic that terrorized the globe.
Instead, he likely would have preferred being remembered as a jovial jokester with a fondness for a dirty joke or limerick (did you hear the one about the dirty Scotsman? It was most likely written about him), a proud veteran of the Air Force who served a tour as an air police officer while stationed in Japan from 1958 to 1962, or as the owner and proprietor of a number of local businesses, for which he is fondly remembered.
Born Nov. 9, 1940, Don was the son of Kenneth M. Knox and Mildred Heck Knox (Smith), both predeceased. While his three siblings (older brother Kenneth A., of Hendersonville, N.C., and older sister Doris Ann Smith, of Gettysburg, both pre-deceased, surviving younger sister Kay Ritz-Haines, of Seven Valleys, Pa.), took off in other directions, Don became something of an entrepreneur, first taking over and running the Suburban Motel after his father passed away in 1973, and then eventually purchasing and running the Colton Motel from 1980 to 1993. Along the way, he also ran an antique shop on Chambersburg Street, co-ran D&A Comics with his son Andy, and ran two popular video arcades, one on the Colton Motel lot and another, for a time, in Biglerville.
It was during those latter years in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that he became known as a sort of generous “Willy Wonka”-like figure and babysitter to many of Adams County’s latchkey kids, who would hang around after school playing games in the arcade on Steinwehr Avenue until they ran out of money, at which point Don would sometimes “flip quarters” at them while acting like the coins were falling from the sky. “He was like the Pied Piper of Pac-Man” was not at all an uncommon thing to hear being said about him back then.
After he sold the Colton and closed down his other businesses, Don retired but stayed active in antiquing, trading and selling with many local dealers and maintaining a booth at the Black Rose Antiques and Collectibles in Hanover until his death.
He also volunteered regularly at both the Ladies Auxiliary Thrift Shop on the Lincoln Square and at the Adams County Rescue Mission throughout his later years. He could also be recognized walking up to anyone wearing any kind of veteran insignia or attire to shake their hand and thank them for their service.
Apart from his sister Kay, Don is survived by his wife, Carol Jean (Trivitt) Knox, Gettysburg; his son Donald A. Knox, Biglerville; his son Kenneth E. Knox, Gettysburg; daughter-in-law Katy Mattson, Biglerville; and many cousins, nieces and nephews throughout Adams County and the country.
A man with no need for pomp or circumstance, he did not want any kind of service and was cremated per his wishes.