William Barnard Knopke, Sr.
It is with great sadness and heavy hearts, that the Knopke family announces the passing of their father, friend, and brother, William “Bill” Knopke, Sr. Bill died on August 19, 2018 at Augustana Care Center in Minneapolis, after a valiant and courageous 21-year struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Bill is survived by his oldest daughter, Dr. Amy Knopke and her partner Kathryn Jensen of Minneapolis; his son William Knopke Jr. and wife Carrie Knopke, also of Minneapolis; and youngest daughter Dr. Kristi Tshilumba and her husband Jean Claude Tshilumba of Iowa City, IA. He leaves behind his five grandchildren: Olivia, Theodore and Oscar Knopke-Mooney of Minneapolis; Maxwell Knopke of Minneapolis; and Carl Tshilumba of Iowa City, IA, along with his two sisters and one brother: Avery “Ginger” Cook of St. Paul, Katie Batholomew of Washougal, WA and Tat Knopke of St. Paul. And, special friends Wayne and Diane Stolt, Sarah Mooney-Berg, Dave and Bev Mooney, and Gordy Pitt.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Avery Knopke, his mother- and father-in-law, Christ and Rita Seifert, brother Carl “Buddy” Knopke, Jr, and brother-in-law, Roman Seifert.
Bill was born in Fargo, ND on May 20, 1942 to Carl and Avery Knopke, he was the oldest of five children. He primarily grew up in New Ulm. Bill had a bigger-than-life personality and knack for telling stories about his adventurous days. In high school, he was a foreign exchange student to Germany. Summers were spent life guarding at the New Ulm city pool and teaching swimming lessons.
He attended the University of Minnesota and enjoyed swimming on the university swim team and his fraternity brothers in Chi Psi fraternity. He graduated with a degree in business. He returned to New Ulm following graduation to run Knopke Motor Company with his father, Carl, until the late 1980s, when Carl passed. He met and married, Diane Phyllis Seifert in New Ulm. They married in 1974 and had three children which they raised in New Ulm. They divorced in 2004, but remained close for their shared children and grandchildren.
During Bill’s life in New Ulm, he was an active member of the small business community, serving as a member of the New Ulm Jaycees, Lions Club, and Turner Hall Society. He enjoyed golfing, swimming, skiing, and even performed in the New Ulm Figure Skating Club show during his younger years. He loved camping, and fostered a love of the Minnesota Northwoods in his children, camping many summers. Bill was an avid history buff and loved to read. He enjoyed watching football with his son, and going to classic car shows at the State Fairgrounds in the summer. Bill loved to travel, driving to Alaska with two youngest children in 1991, exploring Canada, and many other places.
Bill was amazingly welcoming and kind, generous, and inquisitive about others’ journeys and adventures. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends. A special thank you to all the wonderful and compassionate care givers at Augustana for their years of service caring for Bill. As a final gift, Bill lovingly donated his body to the University of Minnesota Medical school for future doctors to learn human anatomy. Bill remained generous to the very end, and his last thoughts were of helping others learn and professionally grow and develop in their careers.
A celebration of Bill’s life will be held at Minnesota Valley Funeral home-South Chapel on December 8 at 10:30 a.m. Visitation will occur Friday December 7, 4 to 7 p.m., and one hour prior to celebration service on December 8. Blessed be his memory.