Obituary: Knott, Sherry Martin
KNOTT, Sherry Martin Sherry Martin Knott, local arts advocate and Spokane Symphony friend and benefactor, died Monday, August 4, 2014, of brain cancer at her home. She was 69. She was born in 1945 in Orchard Park, New York to Francis Martin and Bernice (Lippencott) Martin. Her father worked at a steel mill where Sherry recalled throwing food and clothes to him over the fence when the workers were on strike. Her father was an opera fan and a fox hunter. Sherry enjoyed a childhood filled with horseback riding, violin and flute lessons, and listening to opera on the radio with her father. Her energy and enthusiasm for the arts, fine cuisine, wines and travel were legendary. Her friends knew her as a person who took great joy in, and welcomed the personal responsibility of, lifting others up, especially those with talent but lacking opportunity. Whether it was rent reductions at her Powerhouse townhomes, helping financially strapped artists make ends meet, opening her home for fundraisers or simply introducing people to the beauty of great performances or the visual arts, Sherry enjoyed helping others live more fully. She embarked on a ten-year “mission” to obtain her college degree, starting at the University of Syracuse. She interrupted her studies to work and reside in Rome, Paris and Mexico. Her educational mission was met with a Fine Arts degree from Northern Colorado University. She moved to the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970s. A poor typist, she applied for a broker’s position at Merrill Lynch instead of a secretarial opening. Her intelligence, determination and plain hard work helped her become one of the first female brokers, serving clients for 35 years at the local office. She met her husband, Frank Knott, 20 years ago when he sought her professional services, then asked her to “go for a drive” — the journey continued over the next two decades. They’ve golfed together in 57 countries. Sherry missed only 3 snow skiing seasons — the first two years of her life (her first lessons were at age 3) and the 69th. She had planned a trip to Antarctica this summer, the only continent she had not visited, but her health prevented it, so she “settled” for a Rhone cruise in France instead. Among her creative accomplishments was the design and renovation of the Power House residence — the once derelict Frequency Changing Station above Liberty Park. Purchased in1978, Sherry was the chief architect and general contractor for the project. Salvaged staircases and breakfronts from historic buildings such as the Hyde Building and St. Joseph’s orphanage were incorporated. She sought and received listing on the National Register of Historic Places and also purchased and renovated many of the declining houses in that neighborhood. She enjoyed the company of artists, providing a haven for musicians, artists, conductors and friends of the Symphony. Opera singers performed from her balcony, concerts were performed and many weddings and birthdays were celebrated in the Power House Great Hall. Musicians often could be heard rehearsing in their apartments. Her banquet table often seated up to 50 people for a sit-down dinner. She was delighted by the number of musicians and friends who became engaged while living at the Powerhouse. Sherry knew how to stretch a dollar. She would purchase dozens of swimsuits at WalMart to give to families who couldn’t afford new suits for summer. She would stock up on bulk nuts from Winco and serve them in Tiffany silver and Baccarat crystal. She would buy exquisite fabric yardage on sale, then create an ensemble on her own sewing machine. Sherry would whip up after-party leftovers into food worthy of the finest chefs. Residents of her Power House often received surprise meals and culinary treats outside their doors. She joked before she died that she didn’t want to leave any frequent flyer points unused. This thrift made possible her extensive generosity to others. She was a key player and contributor to the well-being of the Symphony and Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox throughout her life. Sherry served on the Spokane Symphony Board, the Endowment Board, Spokane Symphony Associates (receiving the Myrna Massie Professional Award 1997), and the Fox Theater Spokane Board. She was a founding member of the Ferden Chapter and chaired several Symphony committees including the Gala Committee. This spring the Symphony, to a standing audience ovation, awarded her a Heart of the City award and a signed portrait at the final Classics concert. The Symphony Associates created a new traveling award in her name- the Sherry Knott Patron of the Arts Award - to recognize others contributing to the arts throughout this community. Sherry Knott personally gave the award to the first recipient, Dr. Elizabeth Welty, at the SSA’s end-of-year luncheon this spring. Additional Symphony assistance included production of the Stanley Sherman Fashion Show fundraiser, founder and chair of the Swing with the Maestro golf tournament at Manito Country Club, and volunteer, donor and underwriter for the SSA’s Upscale Sale. Other nonprofit board service included: - Spokane Opera board where she created an opera endowment and spearheaded a Spokane Opera scholarship at Whitworth University; - Connoisseur Concerts, and; - Executive Women International as Chapter President, EWI Woman of the Year (1984-85) and architect/donor to EWISP scholarship fund and ASIST Scholarships. She was awarded the YWCA Woman of Achievement in arts and culture in 2002. The International Wine and Food Society, in 2013, awarded her the Andre Simon Bronze Medal of Honor, the highest international award ever given to an individual member, recognizing her dedication and generosity to that international organization. Sherry knew, innately, how to be a friend, and she gave friendship paramount importance in her life. “Family” simply included those she loved dearly. Friends would often receive early morning telephone calls with the greeting, “SMK here,” advising of some new development or activity. Frank is eternally grateful to Sherry’s personal caregivers Ambra Heede and Mary Anne Will, and to Hospice of Spokane and Comfort Keepers whose loving and compassionate care allowed Sherry to realize her wish to remain at the Powerhouse for her last days. Sherry is survived by her husband, Frank Knott, her brother Peter Martin and sister-in-law Chris Martin, her brother-in-law Alan Knott and his wife Lynda Knott, sister-in-law Nancy Murray, nephew Blake Martin and his wife Kristen, niece Mandy Shafer and her husband Kevin, as well as her stepchildren Dan Hulsizer and his wife Jill, Jody Rose and her husband Bob, and Ron Knott and his wife Val. Of special importance in Sherry’s life were her grandchildren; Rebecca, Sophia, Zach, Jeff and Josh. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in Sherry’s honor may be made to the Spokane Symphony, Hospice of Spokane, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery or the Whitworth University Music Department in honor on Sherry Knott and Margie Mae Ott. A memorial concert, by the Spokane Symphony, celebrating Sherry’s life, will be held Friday, August 22 at 4 pm at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.