Donald Lee McKnight, 69, West Virginia native and Vietnam War veteran is your source for free local news and information in Virginia Beach

Donald Lee “Smokey” McKnight, 69, of Virginia Beach, Va., passed away suddenly on Sunday, July 31, 2016, from natural causes.

Smokey was born Dec. 13, 1946, in Ronceverte, W.V., to the late Donald Whiting and Nina Wolfenbarger McKnight. He gained his nickname “Smokey” from the Smokey the Bear belt he wore while growing up on the Ronceverte “The Island” baseball field. He attended West Virginia University where he earned a degree in business administration. Drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, he earned a Bronze star for his bravery and service. Smokey was so determined he was coming home that he encouraged his wife, Alice, to send their wedding invitations out before he returned from Vietnam. Smokey and Alice were married on Sept. 14, 1968.

Donald Lee McKnight
         Donald Lee McKnight

He loved family and friends. He enjoyed Old Maid and dinner at Nick’s with his children when they were young, as well as trips to Wintergreen. As his children grew up, he could be found on the sidelines of their athletic events cheering them on, as he also did in life. He often was seen around the neighborhood with his beloved dogs. He enjoyed crab picking and sharing his dogs with his grandchildren.

He was grateful for loyal friends, especially his lifelong friends from Ronceverte, his children’s friends and their parents, Wednesday night card buddies, neighbors, lacrosse parent comrades, fellow dog devotees and hunting friends, especially those from Piney Island. He had many passions, including dogs, Tennessee Walking horses, golf and coaching youth, especially in Little League baseball and basketball. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church. He loved his work as an MAI designated Real Estate Appraiser at Realty Advisory Group and had the pleasure of working with many wonderful colleagues and clients. At his core, he had a tender heart and he loved unconditionally.

He is survived by his wife of almost 48 years, Alice Ann McLaughlin McKnight, his children, Andrew “Drew” Addison McKnight (Amy) and Emily Whiting McKnight Tafel (Cody); his grandchildren, Caroline Beau McKnight, Andrew Wayte McKnight, Alice Anne Tafel and Julia Addison Tafel; his cousin Paul Sharp (Juanita); his brother-in-law, Philip McLaughlin Sr. (Paula); his sister-in-law, June Price McLaughlin Strader (John); and nieces, nephews and other loved ones.

A graveside service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, at Clifton Presbyterian Church in Maxwelton, W.V.

The family will receive friends at home in Virginia Beach from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016.

Memorial donations may be made to Warrior Healing Campaign (WHC), a philanthropic organization dedicated to serving veterans and their families as they navigate the post-war recovery process, at

Online condolences may be made at