A homeless man once asked Doris McKnight to cook a pot of pinto beans and rice for him
to eat. McKnight was living on a small, fixed income, but she bought the food and cooked it for him without thinking twice, simply because he had a taste for pinto beans and rice.
Debbie Hamilton, whom Mc- Knight helped to raise, says that was the “Aunt Doris” she always knew.
McKnight was never concerned with people’s origin or their station in life. If they wanted something, she gave it to them. If they didn’t have something, she went and got it.
McKnight was born Jan. 26, 1931, in Morristown, Tenn. and died April 11.
It was well-known among those who knew McKnight that if someone was sick, she would cook for them, Hamilton says. She wouldn’t just cook a few meals, but took it as her duty to ensure the person was fed daily.
When she was in her 70s, she cooked daily for a next-door neighbor who was in her 90s.
When the neighbor was placed in an assisted-living facility on Johns Island, McKnight insisted that Hamilton drive her there from North Charleston so that she could check on her.
“She was just a very caring person,” says McKnight’s son, Timothy Funderburk. Her resources dwindled over the years, but she remained the same giving person. Even when it would become clear that some who asked her for help did not need it, she never harbored ill feelings toward them.
“I never heard her talk bad about anybody,” Funderburk says.
Her simple indulgences were dogs and chocolate bars.
“As far as I know, she has had several dogs,” Funderburk says. “No fancy dogs, just your basic Heinz 57 variety. She loved them and, unfortunately, always overfed them,” he says.
McKnight even renamed Hamilton’s dog as Mini Pearl and the two became inseparable, Hamilton says.
Throughout her life, McKnight told stories of growing up in Tennessee during the Great Depression, Funderburk says.
She thought of her family as blessed because they always had a little something to eat during those lean times. And she never forgot the excitement they all felt when someone gave the family a wheel of cheese.
“Situations that would wear on me just rolled off her back,” Funderburk says. “She would say, ‘The Lord has really blessed me. I might not have much, but I ain’t doin’ without.’ That is definitely something I will try to live my life by, to be happy with what I got.”
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.