Emily Gladys Knapp passed away on the evening of Good Friday, April 6, 2012 in Olympia at age 96. She was a longtime (67 years) resident of Colville and loved her town (“Do you know what is the most wonderful town in the world?”).
Emily lived a good, long life, recently celebrating her 96th birthday. She loved her family dearly and delighted in her daily radio BINGO on KCVL and in the birds and deer that visited her yard daily, snacking on the fruit trees all around. After 54 years in the house that she and her husband had built, she spent the last year-and-a-half living with her youngest child, Shirley Stirling in Lacey. She was born March 2, 1916 and passed away on April 6, 2012 of complications that arose while waiting for a medical procedure to treat a compression fracture.
Emily was born at home in her parent’s farmhouse in eastern Colorado in 1916, in the general area of Colorado Springs. The closest town was 10 miles away – Ramah – with only a couple hundred people. She was the middle child of five, with two brothers and two sisters. She was born only 13 months after her older brother, Lee, and they went through school together. Their parents held him back from first grade until she was old enough to attend with him. He had poor vision and needed her help with reading schoolwork. She secretly read books for him and coached him for book reports, keeping the book-reading deception alive all through the Norton School primary years.
Lee and Emily had a policy of never reporting on the same book in the same month. They had a big laugh at home with their folks after a cranky teacher, Miss Lucy Bell Jones, commented on Lee’s report, “Now class, after hearing that report, you can tell that he read that book.” She was very strict and admonished with a growl, “You read your own book –you don’t get a report from anybody else!”
Emily milked cows, made butter, herded cattle on horseback, and generally ‘helped make the living’ starting at age five or six. Ever after, she loved black and white Holstein cattle because most of their milk cows were Holstein. She and her siblings got to their schoolhouse, The Norton School, during the early years via horse and cart. It was Lee’s job to feed and water the horse at lunchtime. In high school, the three oldest children had to live in a boarding house during the week in Simla, Colorado be¬cause the high school was so far away from home. She graduated in 1934.
Emily was married at age 22 to George Arthur Knapp on May 9, 1938 in Simla, at the minister’s house. They met during the Depression while working at London Mines and Milling, a gold mine way up in the Rocky Mountains. She worked in the boarding house and he in the mining mill. During World War II they moved to San Diego, California and there George worked in a wartime aircraft plant. They bought and sold a house and, for a time, operated a little grocery store there. After the war, they traveled to Washington State. George and Emily always bought a home wherever they went.
He switched jobs a lot in the early years. After moving several times, buying and selling a house in each town he worked, they eventually settled down in Colville, his hometown, and had a nice house built by the Garner family in 1955 on the property that he had been purchasing from his dad since his teenage years.
Emily and George had five children: Vernon (who died as a baby), Norman, Delbert, Rita, and Shirley, 13 grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.
In the late 1940’s, George got a job with the United States Postal Service and, later, Emily learned to drive at age 45 to take an afternoon Spokane Daily Chronicle newspaper motor route. Once she had motor route experience, she also became a substitute letter carrier on a rural route for the US Postal Service. Sometimes she worked for both the post office and the Chronicle on the same day. She also worked as a nurse’s aide at Mt. Carmel Hospital for over fifteen years, once working a full shift for both organizations on the same day. She worked hard and then retired at age 62. She believed in lifelong learning. In the 1930’s she attended beauty school in Denver, Colorado. In mid-life she attended night school classes, woodworking classes, and some community college.
She was a 65-plus year member of the United Church of Christ (1st Congregational) in Colville; a 50-plus year member of Fort Colville Grange, a long-time member of Eastern Star, a lifetime member of Stevens County Historical Society, and a past member of Habitat for Humanity and Hospice.
Emily was a great caregiver and helped several relations and others in the community when they were ill or disabled including her father-in-law who died of cancer and her husband who died from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1963. She took charge of the family and finished raising her last two children at home after his death.
She liked to cook, making things from scratch: bread, doughnuts, fresh fruit pies, cookies, potato salad, pork chops, cream puffs, you name it. She was an expert seamstress, sewing much of the family clothing and, in later years, she made quilts from wool scraps using her sewing machine.
She also loved exploring country roads and looking through old abandoned houses. She loved her cabin at Black Lake and making a fire in the wood stove. She was a woodworker and made furniture, such as a dresser, hope chest, art easel, and bookshelves.
She loved having her kids and grandkids visit, as well as taking trips to visit relatives near and far. George was also fond of road trips, plotting out how far they could travel during his two-week vacations. They traveled several times cross-country to Colorado. After she retired she made several Greyhound bus trips to visit her kids and grandkids, all the way to Ohio and Rhode Island, as well as to visit cousins in California. She trav¬eled with Shirley to Hawaii twice--once with Shirley’s college geology class, hiking through the lava fields at Kilauea Volcano. Years later, she visited again to celebrate her 80th birthday with Shirley, husband Bob and granddaughter, Sara.
She loved driving and her final car, a white 1977 Ford Mav¬erick with a blue landau top, was often seen around town. She drove it almost every day into her 90’s, but the speedometer stayed under 35,000 miles. Emily was good in business deal¬ings, handling most for her family during her married life; she en¬joyed determining the most frugal way to live out the details of day-to-day living.
She lost much of her short-term memory in later years, but kept a zest for life and relished every day, taking pleasure in the small delights of life. She appreciated the help she received from neighbors, family, community and church. All of her kids found ways to help her, regardless of how far away they lived away. She was very proud of her children, grandchildren, and greats. She loved her family more than anything and took great pleasure in their accomplishments.
She was preceded in death by her husband, George Arthur Knapp (died 1963); son Vernon Arthur Knapp, who died as an infant, sister Erma Harper, and by a brother, Lee Stoll.
Her survivors include: two daughters, Rita Picard (George) of Manville, RI; Shirley Stirling (Robert Beets) of Lacey; two sons, Norman Knapp (Brita) of Columbus, OH; Delbert Knapp (Dennise) of Portland, OR; one sister, Elsie Coleman of Dighton, KS; one brother, Richard Stoll of Ramah, CO; 13 grandchildren, Ken Knapp (Fran) of Columbus, OH; Randy Kelsey-Knapp (Shannon) of Columbus, OH; Krista Donnelly (Bill) of Beltsville, MD; Derrick Knapp (Jasmine) of Columbus, OH; Sara Ivey of Seattle; Aimee Falso (Rich) of Cranston, RI; Greg Picard (Sara) of North Providence, RI; Bryan Picard of Stowe, VT; Cynthia Gouge (Lewis) of Beaverton, OR; Heather Hernandez (Nick) of Tomball, TX; Erik Knapp (Staci) of Portland, OR; Kailey Knapp of Portland, OR; Taylor Knapp of Portland, OR; 11 great- grandchildren, Claire and Camille Gouge, Alex and Atticus Hernandez, Mason and Dylan Knapp, Moira and Liam Donnelly, Joshua and Matthew Falso, Darby Knapp and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Her descendants live all over the country, from western Washington to Oregon, Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Maryland.
A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 15 at the Colville United Church of Christ (First Congregational) located at 205 N. Maple (corner of First & Maple streets).
A private graveside service will take place the following day.
Please visit the online memorial at www.danekasfuneralchapel.com  Memorial contributions can be made to the Colville United Church of Christ.
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