American Veteran 04

Deacon James Knotts

December 19, 1919 ~ September 12, 2020 (age 100)


To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3


Deacon James Leslie Knotts was born on December 19, 1919 in Norway, South Carolina to parents of Mr. John Hart, and Mr. Son and Mrs. Mittie Knotts. On Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 7:00am Deacon Knotts entered a peaceful eternal rest at his residence with family.


Deacon Knotts was a humble, grateful, gracious and giving person who was blessed with 100 years and eight months of life. He epitomized the quality of life that we all seek. He was a hardworking husband, father, grandfather, great- grandfather, and great-great grandfather, and Deacon who took wonderful care of his family, loved his church and served his family.  

James Knotts really worked hard to achieve the American dream with his strength, determination and deep religious conviction. He walked through life eager and ready for work, serving, and to give advice on being a true follower of Christ. He attended the Rocky Swamp School in Norway, South Carolina.

Through his lifetime, he was employed at Fort Jackson as a laborer, mechanic helper and mechanic for over 32 years beginning in 1941 and ending in 1973. His service was interrupted by his active duty service in the United States Marine Corps. Mr. Knotts was employed with Hardaway Concrete Company from 1973 to 1987 where he retired with over four months of annual leave.

Also, he was accredited with being an avid gardener who enjoyed yearly competitions that he and his neighbors launched to see who could grow the best and biggest gardens. Those far and near enjoyed his harvest as many were able to feast over the years. He never placed a cost and was more ecstatic about sharing than any personal gain.


Deacon James Knotts’ spiritual journey began when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He was baptized at the Bushy Pond Baptist Church of Norway, South Carolina and a former member of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Columbia, SC. Deacon Knotts became a faithful and active member of Sweet Home Baptist Church in the summer of 1952. He was a dedicated servant who was involved in numerous church ministries.  He was always willing to be of service anywhere necessary. He served in the following capacities; president and vice president of the Jubilee Choir, superintendent and treasurer of Sunday School, church treasurer, treasurer and chair, and co-chair of the Deacon Board. He was also appointed as Deacon Emeritus.

Deacon Knotts had a great passion politics. His political involvement was extensive and was included but not limited to Precinct President and Treasurer of the Hopkins and Bluff Road Precincts in South Carolina.

His love and passion for service was widespread as he was initiated into Killian #72 of Ancient York Rite Mason, Prince Hall origin in 1950. His membership included; Ridgewood Lodge #63D. Shrine, Israel Temple #1 Drill Team, Master Mason, Senior Deacon and was a recipient of the 32nd Degree. He was further affiliated with the VFW #6 Reader Point, Eastway Park and Atlas Road Communities.

He was adamant about education, and often stressed its importance. His involvement with the Parent-Teacher association led to his recommendation for the implementation of school buses for the students of the Richard Street Community.

He was most proud to have been one of the first African Americans to serve in the United States Marine Corps which prompted the Senate led by Darrell Jackson on June 19, 2012, adopted a resolution acknowledging Mr. Knotts for his service as a Montford Point Marine and for receiving a replica of the Congressional Gold medal, the Bronze Medal, from President Barack Obama.


Preceding him in death, are his parents, Mr. Sam and Mrs. Mittie Knotts and Mr. John Hart, his wives, Mrs. Leona Bowlin Knotts and Mrs. Flossie Butler Knotts, his brother, Master John Lee Knotts, his daughter, Mrs. Daisey Knotts Sivills and a step daughter, Mrs. Dorothy Branic.


Deacon Knotts never received credit for inventing the uber concept, however before its invention he served as a driver for over forty years taking citizens to the polls.  He went further to assist those needing to go places as well.

During a television interview in 2019 with WachFox 57, Knotts shared his humorous choice of words as he was asked by the reporter, “What was the secret to his long life”? He replied with part of the secret to his long life is simple. “23 hours and 59 minutes taking care of my own business. I didn’t worry about the Joneses I just took take of myself.”

He also displayed an intense love for family and friends.  He was always giving sound advice whenever it was needed.


Deacon Knotts was married to Mrs. Leona Bowlin Knotts for forty two years.  This union ended in her untimely death on May 20, 1981. On July 3, 1982 God blessed him with another spouse, Mrs. Flossie Butler Knotts.  This union lasted for nine years until God called her home on June 6, 1991.

He is the proud father of two daughters, Carrie and Daisey. He maintained a strong presence in the home with a gentle but firm hand of correction and support. He reared and taught his children the value of Christian and moral standards.  The family felt safe and secure by the strong religious faith of his heritage.


Deacon Knotts was drafted into the United States Marine Corp in April, 1945, becoming one of the first African Americans to serve in the Marines.

 He successfully completed his basic training with the 518th Battalion at Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Montford Point Marines served during a time of a segregated Marine Corp. In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an Executive Order allowing Black men to join the Marine Corps. In 1949 President Harry S. Truman eliminated segregated units in all armed forces.

Mr. Knotts military tenure included a tour with World War II and the Korean Conflict. Knotts served in the U.S. Marine Corp from April 1945 to August 1946, March 1950 to December 1950 and the Sixth Marine Corps Reserve January 1948 –March 1950. He witnessed and was a part of the integration of the Marine Corps. He obtained the rank of PFC with a hash mark, received a medal of Good Conduct and an Honorable Discharge.


He leaves treasured memories with his daughter, Carrie Knotts-Jackson of Piscataway, NJ; his memories of love are also given to his grandchildren, Janeen, Michal, Dawn, Tisha, Brenda, Cynthia, and Eugene (Myra). Also treasuring his memories are his great grandchildren, Maya, Kayla, Skylar, Ashleigh, Adam, Miles, Trey, Justin, Jerome, and Dexter; He was also blessed with seven great great grandchildren, including Master Grayson who his Grandfather affectionately called “Buster”.

He is also survived by his sister in love, Mrs. Betty Walker of Orangeburg, South Carolina,  and numerous family members and friends.


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Deacon James Knotts, please visit our floral store.

 Service Program


September 17, 2020

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Sweet Home Baptist Church
7500 Richard Street
Columbia, SC 29209

Lie In State
September 18, 2020

12:00 PM
Bushy Pond Baptist Church
1396 Wire Road
Norway, SC 29113

Graveside Service
September 18, 2020

2:00 PM
Bushy Pond Baptist Church
1396 Wire Road
Norway, SC 29113

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