MAHLE Aftermarket Inc. announced the passing of longtime trainer and industry icon Will (Bill) McKnight the morning of March 18.
Bill lost his 18-month fight with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), a debilitating lung disease for which there is no cure.
McKnight served 25 years with Dana Corp. and roughly 10 years with Mahle/Clevite. He retired from Mahle in 2019. For his contributions to the industry, McKnight was set to receive PERA’s Lifetime Achievement Award that year, but due to a mix up with the FAA and flying with oxygen, Bill was unable to attend the convention to receive it.
With the 2020 convention cancelled due to the pandemic, PERA planned to make the presentation in St. Louis this year. However, as his health deteriorated, it was clear Bill wouldn’t be able to attend. PERA Executive VP Joe Polich was scheduled to present the award this week, but sadly was unable to before Bill’s passing.
“It is unfortunate that Bill was unaware of his recognition,” Polich says. “This has to be a first for the industry to keep this secret for nearly two years.”
Despite not getting a chance to receive his well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award, Bill was certainly a great example of a man devoted to this industry and the companies he served. He was always helping educate people on this industry and its complex components.
Mahle colleague Ted Hughes shared, “Throughout his more than 40-year career, Bill was a teacher, a trainer, a manager, a mentor, but most importantly he was a friend to everyone he met. During his career, Bill could typically be found at a racetrack working hard to build relationships with everyone from up-and-comers to big stars, with people both in the spotlight and out of it. He never discriminated or showed favoritism to anyone – he loved everyone. Bill will be dearly missed.”
In retirement, Bill pursued his passion for photography, particularly as it related to nature scenes, and he loved spending time with his family – especially his two daughters Roxy and Katherine.
“It has definitely been a tough day, but made better by the tremendous outpouring of support from so many people across social media that Bill touched,” Hughes added.
McKnight’s longtime friend and colleague, retired aftermarket veteran Terry Shively added:
“Bill and I worked on many projects. He was a great friend, trainer, employee and a school teacher.”