Earlier this spring a beloved local sports referee, Tom Knox, passed away and my thoughts were with his grandson, Austin Knox, who happens to be Chief Deputy Trustee here at Wayne Township. With Father’s Day coming I asked Austin for a few words about his grandfather, and this is what he wrote:
“’How’s that jump shot?’ was a question that I always knew was coming from Grandpa Tom, no matter what the circumstances. You see my grandfather is the late Tom Knox, and sports were his thing. Since his passing many people have come forward with moving or funny stories of Grandpa Tom; from fellow referees, teammates, schoolmates, coaches and the many ball players he worked with over the years. For this Father’s Day I wanted to tell the story from my own point of view as one of Tom Knox’s grandchildren.
Growing up in the Knox household my parents, Ron and Karen Knox, taught us that Family means more than words can tell. They learned this from their own parents, and I could see that from my earliest to my last memories of Grandpa Tom.
I remember summer days when my siblings and I would be outside playing and grandpa would show up out of the blue to play catch or shoot some jump shots with us in the driveway. I can still hear him teaching me how to shoot the basketball; “Fire it!” he would shout.
Grandpa also used to take me to school, not because I didn’t have a ride but because he wanted to spend time with me. During these trips he would tell me his stories but he also asked about me, checking that I was doing okay. After he made sure my academics and the other important things in life were in order, it was time to talk about sports. Just before I got out of the car grandpa would look at me and ask “How’s that jump shot?”
Grandpa Tom never missed a sporting event for any of the Knox kids. He always sat by himself off to the side at the gym or stadium. At one of those events, Grandpa was given what my Aunt called one of his “favorite memories.” My cousin and I played on the same football team in high school and our team won a regional championship. Grandpa loved being able to see two of his grandchildren on the same team, and a winning team at that! It wasn’t Grandpa’s style to stay after the games to talk and congratulate, but he stayed that night and his smile after the game was huge. Hearing about how proud of us he was gave me a memory that I’ll have forever.
In his later life I would try to go see grandpa every other Friday just to hang out and chat like we did when he used to take me to school. He would ask how work was going and how my friends and coworkers were doing. I loved to visit him, and I think he felt the same. He loved it when any of his grandchildren came for a visit but I think he loved mine just a little bit more since I was his favorite (don’t tell the other Knox kids). Of course, before I could leave he’d deliver his famous line, “How’s that jump shot?”
On this Father’s Day spend some time with your father, grandfather, or other father figure in your life if you can. As I celebrate my father and spend time with him I will also be thinking of Grandpa Tom and wishing I could hear him ask me one more time ‘How’s that jump shot?’”
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