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Knox was leader who 'touched so many lives '

Banker-philanthropist Boone A. Knox was remembered Monday as a world-class leader who never forgot his roots.

"He was a Thomson farm boy who became one of the shrewdest businessmen in the world," family biographer Jim Garvey told a capacity crowd at Sacred Heart Cultural Center in Augusta. "But for all his success, he never really left the farm."

Mr. Knox, who died Thursday at age 74, exemplified qualities such as loyalty and generosity, and possessed an unforgettable graciousness and a keen sense of humor.

"He touched so many lives," Mr. Garvey said. "He loved his family, he loved God and he loved his community."

Mr. Knox's ability to think independently and forsake peer pressure led him to great successes, both as a financial leader and as a philanthropist.

"He used to say money was like fertilizer," Garvey said. "It doesn't do any good unless you spread it around."

Sacred Heart, one of Augusta's historic landmarks and the site of Monday's memorial service, is just one example of how Mr. Knox and his family invested in the future by helping to preserve the past.

Built in 1900 and left vacant in 1971, the building was on the verge of being razed when the Knox family restored it and created today's nonprofit cultural center.

Most recently, Mr. Knox tackled the difficult task of leading a committee assigned to raise $20 million to qualify for a much larger gift that would bring The Salvation Army's Kroc Center to Augusta.

"They raised $20 million in donations six months ahead of schedule," Mr. Garvey said, adding that the $100 million complex will open later this year.

Tom Cousins, who met Mr. Knox 56 years ago, described his lifelong friend and business associate as a "contrarian" whose ability to follow his heart led him to countless successes.

"He was wise beyond his years," Mr. Cousins said. "Godspeed, Boone, until we're all together again."

Web posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011

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