In addition to all the fine qualities attributed to Richard Knight Jr. in his obituary last week, I want to add one word: Kindness.

Although Dick had the rough hands of a house carpenter when I knew him in the 1970s, he was a gentle soul.

No one but Dick would have hired me to join the crew he was organizing to build a house on Chappaquiddick during the winter of 1973-74. I was a near-sighted college kid with dreams of living on the Vineyard as a carpenter.

“We call those monkey-faces,” Dick told me with a grin as we pounded together the frame of the house. Trying to swing the hammer as hard as he did, I often planted the hammer’s round head just to the left or right of the nail, leaving the infamous monkey-face.

“The secret is in minding your 16s” he said, as I marveled at the way he hand-sawed each plank of the living room’s pine paneling into a perfect fit, requiring no floor or ceiling molding. He was already paneling the dining room as I struggled to complete one child’s bedroom. “Some quarter-round molding will fix that right up,” he told me.

Most foremen would have pulled me aside and said those terrible words, “This just isn’t working out.” But Dick allowed me to keep working toward my dream.

The next summer, I left the Vineyard in pursuit of work for the near-sighted. Over the years, though, Dick remained a cherished friend of mine, sharing his quiet sense of humor in many letters and visits. I just can’t believe he’s gone.

Tom Harmon

Albuquerque, N.M.