DALLAS — Bud Knight, a former president of Lester Melnick stores and a buyer at Neiman Marcus and I. Magnin, died Monday at his home here of complications from leukemia, said Chet Flake, his partner of 45 years. Knight was 79.
Raised in Ottumwa, Iowa, Knight was hired for the executive training program at Neiman Marcus in 1957 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Drake University. Within two weeks, Knight became the personal assistant of Edward Marcus, executive vice president, general merchandise manager and a son of Neiman’s co-founder, Herbert Marcus.
He was promoted to maternity buyer, and later in life he enjoyed recounting how he stumped the panel on the television game show “What’s My Line” in 1958. Knight subsequently bought coats and suits at Neiman’s, Flake said.
In 1965, Knight moved to Los Angeles to be the dress buyer for the southern region of I. Magnin. He returned to Dallas three years later when Neiman’s chairman and chief executive officer, Stanley Marcus, personally recruited him to buy European ready-to-wear.
Lester Melnick, a Dallas retailer who had worked with Knight at Neiman’s, poached him in 1968 to buy dresses and eveningwear for his namesake store. The chain grew from three stores to 12 in the Dallas area. It closed in 2003.
“He was a wonderful guy — smart, energetic, and he really loved what he was doing,” Melnick said. “He loved helping women look as pretty as they can look, and he was very good at it.”
Knight retired in 1993 but remained a world traveler and a supporter of two AIDS service organizations — Resource Center Dallas and Bryan’s House.
Knight drew on his experiences in retail to co-author a novel with New York fashion manufacturer Stanley Levine, under the pen name “Knight Isaacson.” Published in 1974 and loosely inspired by Neiman’s, “The Store” centered on a fine retailer in Oklahoma managed by three sisters.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Dallas. Flake asked that donations be made to the church in lieu of flowers.