Cover photo for Rhonda Jean Knott's Obituary
Rhonda Jean Knott Profile Photo
1976 Rhonda 2023

Rhonda Jean Knott

August 27, 1976 — April 12, 2023


Orange Park, Florida

August 27-1976 to April 12-2023

Rhonda J. Knott was born in Sylva, NC on August 27, 1976 to parents of Tony and Betty Jo Knott.  She passed into the arms of Jesus on April 12, 2023 in Orange Park, FL. with mother and sister holding her hands.   Born with Cerebral Palsy and never having spoken a word, yet she left a lasting impression on this earth. 

Rhonda was preceded in death by her father, Mark A. (Tony) Knott, Aunts Georgia Dowda and Polly Baxter, Uncle Harry Brut, and both sets of grandparents.  She is survived by her mother, sister and brother-in-law, Tracy and Ron Wells, Aunts Elsie Alderman, Diane Brut, and JoAnn Knott, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Rhonda’s struggles with C.P., inspired her parents to help develop programs for the developmentally disabled in Clay County, Florida and surrounding counties:

1979 – Lighthouse Learning Center in Orange Park, when there were no programs for pre-school children with developmental disabilities.  It later became part of the Clay County public school system and Head Start. 

As members of First Baptist Church Jacksonville, parents Betty Jo and Tony started a special needs Sunday School called “I Am Special” and continues more than 40 years later as the “Shine Class.” 

1994 –Building Abilities of Special Children & Adults (

Rhonda’s parents together with co-founders, John and Linda Cone, started this non-profit to produce programs in Clay County for our developmentally disabled community:  Today, BASCA supports 5 group homes, 2 day treatment centers, summer camps, sheltered workshops and resale boutique at headquarters in Orange Park.

2000 –Daystar Centers - When our severely disabled children were graduating from high school like Rhonda, the Knott’s began discussions with the First Coast YMCA about sponsoring a special day treatment center that would give continued PT and OT, social activities, swimming therapy, etc.  Giving much needed respite for parents.  The first Daystar Center was built at Dye-Clay YMCA and in 2011 the second Center was built at the Barco-Newton YMCA on Fleming Island.  Today more than 30 participants with trained staff are part of the YMCA programs – the first in the nation.

Rhonda’s short 46 years of life has left a legacy that will continue to bless special needs children and their families because God blessed the Knott’s with this precious child.  A scholarship in Rhonda’s name has been established at Western Carolina University to award students majoring in special education and to inspire them for generations to come.  Betty Jo’s book “Wake Up, Rhonda” shares her family’s journey as God used a broken vessel to mold a community…..and the vessel is now made whole!

A Memorial  Service to celebrate her life will be held at 2:30pm on Sunday, May 7, 2023 at First Baptist Church of Orange Park, 1140 Kingsley Ave, Orange Park, FL 32073   

Memorial Donations can be made to:

Daystar Center, First Coast YMCA

40 E. Adams St, Ste 210

Jax, FL 32202






To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Rhonda Jean Knott, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Starts at 2:30 pm (Eastern time)

First Baptist Church of Orange Park

1140 Kingsley Avenue, Orange Park, FL 32073

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