Kenneth Jules Knapp, born July 15, 1946, passed away peacefully at the Montana Veteran’s Home in Columbia Falls on the morning of January 27, 2018 at age 71. Ken has faced chronic illnesses for many years and his passing is surely a blessing for him to be rid of a body that has failed him for so long.
Born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, he was raised by his Mother, Donna and step-father, Lou Roka. Both proceeded him in death, as well as his only sibling, a sister in her infancy. Ken enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at a young age and served his country honorably during the Vietnam War. Upon returning to the States and civilian life, he earned a degree in micro-biology from the University of Oregon at Coos Bay, and then another degree in journalism from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. Ken had a son (Kenny – Pittsburg, PA) from his first marriage, who also gave him two grandchildren: Abby and Jordan. Later, he married Roberta Buehrer who was also a student at Michigan State and shared a passion for racing Porsche’s on a semi-professional level. Ken met his life-long mentor and friend, Frank DeWitt, in Michigan who taught him how to fly-fish.
This newfound passion for fishing and the outdoors spurred he and his wife to move to Jackson, Wyoming, where Ken became an Outdoor Writer for magazines such as Field & Stream, Guns & Ammo, American Hunter, Outdoor Life and many more. His profession and love of the outdoors took him all around the world with amazing stories of trophy fish and animals, as well as proneness to getting hurt, such as when he broke his back reeling in a giant tuna in Nova Scotia, or breaking his back and ribs after being thrown and then landed on by a horse in the Wyoming wilderness. He authored the Wyoming Fishing Guide and truly had an amazing life in doing what he loved most: being in the outdoors.
Ken & Roberta had two children: Jeff & Rachel. Both were born in Jackson. In his later years, Ken settled into a career in the insurance industry as the founder of Knapp Insurance Agency in Helena. After his years with the insurance agency, he never worked again and his health quickly deteriorated. Eventually, he became wheelchair bound. Prior to his passing, he was able to get to know his other two grandchildren: Liam (Rachel) and Kennedy (Jeff).
Ken was raised Catholic and raised his children as such. While far from being devout in his faith, Ken did place his trust in Christ and served with the Knights of Columbus for many years.
Ken was not always the easiest person to get along with. Some liked him; some did not. He did live a full life and had friends that dealt with his idiosyncrasies. He became an Eagle Scout on April 30, 1960 and was very proud of helping his son, Jeff, become the world youngest Eagle Scout 30 years later on April 30, 1990. Ken was very active in scouting in Wyoming as an adult leader, both locally and nationally. He worked for many organizations over the years such as the American Cancer Society in Wyoming, Hospice in Colorado, CBS News in New York City, Montana River Action Network in Helena, along-side his Outdoor Writing career which took him everywhere.
Ken is proceeded in death by his Mother and Step-father (Lou & Donna Roka), his sister, and many dogs that were his beloved friends. His three children, Kenny, Jeff (Kadee) and Rachel (Eric), as well as his four grandchildren: Abby, Jordan, Liam & Kennedy, all survive him. If God has mercy on his soul, Ken will be standing alongside a river in heaven with a flyrod in one hand, red licorice in the other and dozens of hungry salmon, cutthroat, rainbows or browns swimming in front of him waiting for his well-placed fly. His family wishes him a peaceful journey along that river.
Per his wishes, Ken has been cremated and a military funeral with full honors will occur at the Veterans Administration at Fort Harrison on Tuesday, February 27th, 2018 at 3:00pm.
A funeral Mass will be held at the Cathedral of St. Helena on Tuesday, February 20th at the Noon Mass.