Obituary for ASSA Former CEO, Laura Haas Knox
A star was born on December 10, 1971 and she was called to her greatest performance to sing with the choir of angels on April 29, 2023. Laura Ross Haas Knox literally sang her way through life. She was the star of her kindergarten performance of “You Light Up My Life,” a song she cleverly convinced her teacher they should sing at the ripe age of five. In 9th grade, she performed “You’ll Never Walk Alone” at a riveting performance of Carousel. She brought down the house at her high school graduation with “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which would have even brought Bette Midler to tears. Through the years, she entertained various audiences at numerous piano bars, nightclubs, living rooms and front porches throughout the country and abroad. She loved to make people smile through song and comedy. She once put an entire troupe of comedians to shame at a New York City comedy club as the audience heckler. She never lost her sense of humor and positive, “never-give-up” attitude, even while battling terminal cancer.
Laura befriended all she met through her natural interest in people. She wanted to know your story, and she really cared about helping others live a happier life. Nobody had a problem she couldn’t solve for them through her determination and strong network. She loved connecting people; the consummate networker. She made it a point to always compliment people just to see them smile and feel good about themselves. She could see the good in them, even when they couldn’t see it in themselves. Laura was the definition of southern hospitality, always offering guests drinks or something to eat–even on her deathbed.
Laura was way smarter than she ever gave herself credit for. How she managed to instantly recall every detail about her friends, family and network, was awe-inspiring. She made it big in life in all the ways that counted - truly loving life and people. She never forgot a story anyone told her or a problem they had. Even while fighting for her own life, she never forgot to check in with her family and vast network of friends with their struggles, living out her motto to the end: a friend in need is a friend indeed.
Laura lit up a room just by walking into it and the party definitely got started when she arrived. She always saw life as a dance floor and a story to tell. As her favorite bartenders know (special shoutout to the ones at Bullfeathers in DC!), she never met an Absolut soda she couldn’t finish–she was never a quitter! She led many a “Hotty Toddy” cheer at birthday parties, sporting events, and family holidays as a natural star cheerleader, another claim to fame!
After launching her career in DC in 1994, working for Congressman Gene Taylor on Capitol Hill and later for the House Armed Services Committee, Laura spent decades navigating the ways of Washington through jobs in government, lobbying and defense.
There was really nothing she couldn’t do. In fact, that is how she got her big break in 2003 as a lobbyist by convincing well-known D.C. lobbyist, Cindy Brown, to hire her. Brown took her under her wing and she went on to become her top performer ascending to the position of Vice President for Legislation. After she and Wyck Knox married, they moved to Charlottesville, VA to start their lives together.
As an appropriations and policy expert, Laura secured multi-million dollar federal funds and influenced defense policy and regulations for a wide range of clients. In April of 2007, she opened Laura Haas Consulting, LLC a full service consulting firm that specialized in government relations, business development and strategic consulting.
She also served as the Chief Executive Officer for the American Shipbuilding Suppliers Association and as founding Chairwoman of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce's Defense Enterprise Round Table (DERT). A graduate of the Chamber's Leadership Charlottesville, she received her B.A. in English with a minor in History from the University of Mississippi. She attended high school at Our Lady Academy in Bay St. Louis.
She was also recruited by Northrop Grumman as Manager of Future Platforms. When she got sick, she was at the pinnacle of her career and was so proud of the work she was doing with her amazing employer, Austal, as director of business development. Our family would like to personally thank them for all they did for Laura during her illness. We vote them employer of the year!
She was most proud of being a mother, and loved doting on her precious children, Jane Wingo Knox and Henry Shell Knox. She made it a point daily to remind them to do their best and show confidence, never take “no” for an answer, be polite to others, befriend those in need and always look your best, as Laura always did. Laura always told her kids that they would be looking at the same moon, no matter where they were in the world. “I love you to the moon and back” was their trademark. As for their extended Charlottesville family, Adeline, Mama Jodie, and Emily were always Laura, Jane, and Henry’s home away from home. And, not to forget, Emma was Laura’s protective companion, as her puppy was always snuggled up at the end of her feet.
Fashion was her other love. She thrived off of finding great deals on designer clothes and shoes, as evidenced by her fabulous collection of Jimmy Choos, fur coats, and Chanel jewelry!
She was preceded in death by her father, Michael Durrett Haas and her mother, Myrtle Jane Wingo Haas, and her beloved cousin Mary Helen Bass. She is survived by her children, Jane Wingo Knox (Addie) and Henry Shell Knox of Charlottesville, VA (father Wyck); Her five siblings, Tish Haas Williams (George) of Bay St. Louis, MS, Michael Durrett Haas Jr. (Barbie) of Bay St. Louis, MS, Stephan Wingo Haas of Bay St. Louis, MS, Jennifer Jung (Chuck) of Bay St. Louis, MS, and Elizabeth Haas Gardner (Vicki) of Bay St. Louis, MS as well as sister-wife and caretaker extraordinaire, “Doctor” Kim-ist Cutright. Her nephews and nieces include Caroline Haas, Sarah Elder (Michael), Michael Haas III, Georgia Williams, Tricia Williams, Jake Gardner, Austin Gardner, Christopher Jung, Brandon Jung (Lindsey), Alyssa Jung, and long-time friend Hayden Larroux Hoffman (Mike) and her children Helen and Charlie, and a host of other family members and dear friends. She was blessed to gain so many wonderful friends during her time at Ole Miss, in DC, New York, and Charlottesville and beyond, who all showed up for her in so many ways throughout her illness.
The Celebration of Life will take place at the Haas Family Home at 712 S. Beach Blvd., Bay Saint Louis, MS on Saturday, May 6. Visitation from 1-3 p.m., service and celebration to follow. Mama’s home! Donations may be made to Our Lady Academy in Bay St. Louis.