Wayne Walter Knopf, a beloved husband and father, transitioned from the present to the forever on Monday, July 18. His birth on Oct. 9, 1930, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was celebrated by his parents Adell and Erwin Knopf.
Wayne attended public schools in Milwaukee. He graduated from West Division High School in 1949, where he played football and baseball.
In July 1949, Wayne enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. His postings included Washington, D.C.; North Carolina, the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, and Korea, where he served eight months of combat duty. He was honorably discharged in October 1952, with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
On Aug. 15, 1953, Wayne married his high school sweetheart, Marlene Mork, who has provided enduring support and love for 69 years of marriage. They have three caring and compassionate children, Paul (Cheryl Lowham); John (Karrie Holmes Knopf); and Karen (Eugene Joyce).
Wayne’s early work history included six years with United Airlines as a station agent. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1960 and a master’s degree in social and philosophical foundations of education in 1968 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Wayne was passionate about his 32-year career in higher education, working 12 years at four different University of Wisconsin campuses; 16 years as a founding dean at Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois; and four years at Lifelong Learning in Evanston, Wyoming.
Wayne mentored students of all ages and backgrounds, empowering them to realize their educational goals. Many students visited Wayne after achieving their educational success to personally thank him for his encouragement and support.
In 1988, Wayne voluntarily took early retirement and relocated to Evanston with his wife to be closer to their children. His children were a priority in his life. He cherished familial bonds and love. Wayne enjoyed hiking, backpacking, yurting, and cross-country skiing in the Uinta Mountains with his family. He also enjoyed the splendor of the Wind River Range.
Wayne was a contributing member of the Evanston 2010 Comprehensive Plan committee and the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway board. Throughout his life, he engaged in educational and community opportunities that promoted the common good.
Crohn’s disease challenged Wayne for much of his adult life. Adult-related macular degeneration (AMD) challenged him as he neared 90. He willingly volunteered to participate in clinical studies of Crohn’s disease and AMD at the University of Utah. He was honored to give back to the universal medical and research community, whose decades of research and advances in treatment for victims of Crohn’s disease enabled Wayne to enjoy a good quality of life and longevity with his family.
Wayne was a principled man. He was a leader who advocated for the public good. He was a man of valor and integrity. He was honest and fair, compassionate and caring. He shared his unconditional love with family and friends.
On his 80th birthday, Wayne and his family walked around Mirror Lake. It was a celebration of life. The walk became a family tradition — The Fall Mirror. On his 91st birthday, Wayne and his family celebrated life with a short walk to the edge of Mirror Lake. Although Wayne has passed, The Fall Mirror tradition will continue.
Wayne enjoyed a good, long life. His family grieves over his passing, but they take solace in his words to “Live life well. Live life with courage. Live life with honor and commitment.” Semper Fi.
Wayne’s family is forever grateful to the staff and health care professionals at Evanston Regional Hospital, Rocky Mountain Care, Best Home Health & Hospice, and University of Utah Health Care, for the excellent care, kindness and love they offered to Wayne. Thank you.