Congress

Senate mourns deaths of two beloved staffers

Barber David Knight and document room employee Bud Johnson both died recently

David Knight, here with, from left, barber Kim Coleman and manager Cindi Brown, cut hair in the Senate barbershop for 36 years. (Courtesy Senate Hair Care Services)

David Miles Knight spent 36 years as one of the Senate barbers, and he was a familiar face to everyone in the basement of the Russell Building, which has long played host to the barber shop.

Over the weekend, he lost his long fight with cancer, just a day before another longtime Senate employee, Berner Richard Johnson III, succumbed to his injuries from a violent attack, leaving the Senate family in mourning. 

Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer remembered both of them on the Senate floor Monday. 

“His most noticeable and notable trait was kindness. Not just friendliness, but actual kindness and a generosity of spirit,” the New York Democrat said of Knight, who lived in Bowie, Maryland, and died May 18. 

“He was always eager to ask about a customer’s day or a colleague’s weekend, and just as eager to regale those folks with stories about his family: his wife, Joanne, his three sons, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren,” Schumer said.  

In an online condolence book that ran along with Knight’s obituary, fellow Senate master barber Mario D’Angelo recalled first meeting Knight in September 1967.

“He … has been the same person all through the years, [always] caring of others than himself,” D’Angelo posted.

“Dave’s life was filled with these people, his friends, his family. I offer my prayers to them now, to Dave’s family, his friends, and his Senate family as well. He was considered a member of the Senate family and had been here decades,” Schumer said. “He was beloved. We miss him.”

The death of Johnson, a Senate employee for three decades who worked in the Senate document room in the Hart Building, was not at all anticipated.

He died May 19, four days after an altercation in the Navy Yard neighborhood led to a violent assault, the local Washington NBC affiliate reported. Johnson, known as “Bud,” had been on life support at MedStar Washington Hospital Center before he died.

“Bud had a big heart. He was a great family man and loved nothing more than spending time with his wife and children. At home, at work and with friends, he always put the concerns of others before his own,” his family said in a statement to NBC Washington.

The report said Johnson and his family lived in the Navy Yard area, not far from where the attack took place.

“Bud was beloved by his Senate family, the softball team he’s coached, and his many friends and family,” Schumer said. “I offer my prayers for his partner, Diane, his son Bo, and for all who loved and will miss him.”

Earlier this week, a GoFundMe page was set up for Johnson’s family.

“If you feel so moved, please consider donating to help with funeral expenses, Bo’s college education and other unforeseen challenges in the upcoming days and weeks,” the page read. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the fund had raised $11,575 of the $15,000 goal.

Schumer asked his colleagues to remember the two longtime members of the all-important support infrastructure that allows the Senate to function on a daily basis.

“May the memory of these two men be a blessing to their loved ones and a reminder to all of us that life is fleeting and to hold tight to those we love,” he said.

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