Dr. LaVerne Frank Knappe, 91, of Rochester, died Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, at Lake City Care Center in Lake City.
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LaVerne was born Jan. 8, 1922, in Ellsworth, Wis., to Frank and Alice (Bolin) Knappe. He moved with his family to Red Wing as a young child and spent most of his childhood and teen years there, playing baseball, football and ski jumping. In 1938, LaVerne moved to Caledonia with his family. During this year, LaVerne played on Caledonia High School's undefeated football team, met his wife, Ruth (Pieper) and graduated from Caledonia High School. LaVerne received a full scholarship to the University of Minnesota, where he studied mechanical engineering. He played center for the Gopher's football team from 1940 to 1943, as well as played baseball, ski jumped and wrestled. He enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served in the South Pacific during World War II.
Upon return, LaVerne began graduate studies in engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., earning a master's degree. He taught at a college in Illinois before he and Ruth returned to U of Minnesota, where he resumed graduate studies, earning a masters and then a PhD in applied mechanics in 1953. LaVerne returned to Illinois where his work contributed to the development of mechanics used in the U.S. space program. In 1956, LaVerne accepted a position at IBM, becoming one of the original employees of the Rochester location. He remained with the company for more than 30 years, retiring in 1987 having developed several patents. He also earned several Outstanding Contribution awards from IBM and presented one of these projects at a professional conference in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, in 1975.
In retirement, LaVerne and Ruth traveled, golfed, continued to be active in church activities and enjoyed spending time with family and friends. LaVerne and Ruth raised three children, (Dudley, Pat, and Dan) in Rochester.
Verne was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church for more than 50 years, serving in several leadership capacities. After Ruth's passing in 1999, LaVerne volunteered for more than a decade with the
in her honor.
He was a founder of Rochester Lutheran School, was an active member of the Gamehaven Boy Scouts Council, Meals on Wheels and remained active in Kiwanis until his death.
LaVerne is survived by two children, Patria Langworthy of Rochester and Daniel (Fairy) Knappe of Dana Point, Calif.; daughter-in-law, Holly Knappe of Lake City; 10 grandchildren, Christian (Elisabeth) Knappe of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Ehren Knappe of Winona, Michelle (Jeremy) Sprick of Lake City, Noel Knappe of Crookston, Nate Langworthy (Priv Shenoy) of Rochester, Megan Langworthy of Rochester, Caleb (Lauren) Langworthy of Wheeler, Wis., Kirsten Knappe-Langworthy (Luke Grohosky) of Minneapolis, Jeremy Knappe of Glendale, Ariz., and Jessica Knappe of Dana Point, Calif.; and six great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth; son, Dudley; two sisters, Delores Bissen and Marlys Spurlock.
A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Rochester.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes, and one hour before the service at the church. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery with military honors.
Memorials are suggested to the
and Rochester Central Lutheran School.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes, 5421 Royal Place N.W., Rochester, MN 55901, 507-289-3600, ranfranzandvinefh.com.
Ranfranz & Vine Funeral Homes & Crematory
5421 Royal Pl Nw Rochester, MN 55901
Published in The Post-Bulletin from Dec. 24 to Dec. 27, 2013