If you visit the front desk at East Texas Medical Center (ETMC) in Tyler on a Friday afternoon, you’re sure to see the smiling face of Eva McKnight. What you may not realize is you will be looking at a woman who has spent her life serving others. At the age of 99, Mrs. McKnight volunteers weekly at ETMC, greeting visitors and delivering mail to patients, and has done so for 29 years.
“I realize I am the first person people see at the information desk when they arrive,” Mrs. McKnight said. “I like to greet them with a smile and a pleasing voice. If necessary, I like to offer a word of encouragement as I direct them to their destination.”
Her long history in Tyler adds to her ability to be a friendly face and a voice of comfort to those visiting ETMC. “I know many people personally when they arrive for a visit. It is a joy to see some of my former students, friends, and ministers that I have not seen for a long time,” Mrs. McKnight said.
“Volunteering gives me a chance to lighten the load of the ETMC staff,” Mrs. McKnight adds. “I am involved in special hospital service projects throughout the year and can foster the ETMC mission of care and outreach to the people of the community. I also make a financial contribution to a college scholarship fund that helps ensure we have well-educated healthcare leaders in the future.”
Mrs. McKnight was born in the Quinn Mountain area of Gregg County and was reared in Henderson, Texas. She graduated from Henderson High School in 1930 and received her bachelor of arts degree from Sam Houston State Teachers College in 1937. In 1956, Mrs. McKnight earned her master of education degree from East Texas State Teachers College, now Texas A&M – Commerce. She and her late husband, Preston, are the parents of Robert Taylor McKnight and William Wade McKnight.
Before retiring from Mattie Jones Elementary School, Mrs. McKnight taught in the Tyler Independent School District for 22 years. With her background in education, she has had the opportunity to serve as second vice president and corresponding secretary for the Smith County Retired Teachers and School Personnel Association. Mrs. McKnight has also served as president of both the Rho Chapter and the Fidelis Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international sorority for women educators.
Mrs. McKnight has been a member of Green Acres Baptist Church for 55 years, where she serves as secretary for the Anna Sunday school class. She is a member of the Highest Praise Senior Choir and has participated in numerous mission trips with the choir. She is also a member of the Widows Keep In Touch organization.
“Volunteering is beneficial to my own health because it gives me a personal sense of accomplishment,” Mrs. McKnight said.
It is said that the heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others. That is certainly how Eva McKnight is living her life.