March 3, 1929-March 19, 2019

John Henry Knipmeyer of New Orleans passed away surrounded by family March 19, 2019.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Dr. William Warner Knipmeyer and Adele Fontan Knipmeyer; brothers, Dr. William Bernard Knipmeyer and Robert Fontan Knipmeyer; sister, Jeanette Marguerite Knipmeyer Lee; and baby, Francis Cordes Knipmeyer. John was born in New Orleans March 3, 1929. His parents were both employed by Charity Hospital, his mother as the first anesthetist in Louisiana and his father as a public health physician. It was because of a position offered to Dr. Knipmeyer, as Parish Health Director, that John and his siblings would be raised in Natchitoches.

In Natchitoches, John achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and lived by the motto “Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle.” He continued his work with the scouts as a Red Cross swimming and lifesaving instructor for many years. He was educated at St. Mary’s Elementary and graduated as President of the Senior Class from Natchitoches High in 1946. John graduated from LSU in 1950 with a B.S. degree in Engineering with a minor in geology. He was a member and supporter of Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

John was a veteran of the Korean Conflict and was stationed in New York City, where he met and fell in love with Charlotte Madeline Strobel. In 1952, they were married at St. Pancras Church in New York. After the service, John accepted a position as engineer with Schlumberger which brought him back to New Orleans.

New Orleans would be home from 1953-2016. John had long been interested in flight and space. In fact, in his 1946 high school yearbook, the prediction was made, “Jack Knipmeyer will build a highway to the moon!” John went to work for Boeing at the Michoud Assembly Facility and would play a key role in the production of the Saturn V rocket.

John in front of the Saturn 5 rocket

As the Lead Test Engineer, he was responsible for testing all electrical, hydraulic and instrumentation systems on the first stage of the Saturn V. He witnessed the testing of each “bird” at the Mississippi Test Facility (MTF) and escorted them all by barge to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. When the Apollo program was cancelled and his work with the space program ended, he was the last man with the key to the test center. He LOVED his time at Michoud and often said he felt guilty about being paid. Following the shutdown of the Apollo Program, John became a supervisor for the Unites States Geological Survey until retirement in 1991.

As a father, he was a gentle giant. His patience, wisdom and love were never ending. When son Wil was married, he chose his dad as best man. As a pawpaw, there were none better. Even when his eyes had completely failed him, he would set up his telescope and could direct his grandchildren to planets and constellations by memory. When the oldest granddaughter was being schooled in England, he sent a weekly Times Picayune so she could keep up with Tulane’s winning football season.

He did the same when another granddaughter, being schooled in NYC, could keep up with the Saint’s winning Super Bowl run. John’s love of nature and geology was passed down to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was an ardent preservationist and Sierra Club Member. Many, many trips to national parks around the country, particularly the Great Smokies, were enjoyed by the extended family. He was compassionate toward the poor and less fortunate. He had a love of history and was an adamant documenter, recording family and political history in photographs, 8mm and video form. He had a collection of six magazine publications spanning eight decades. John and Charlotte moved to Mandeville March 2016, only miles from where John’s ancestors lived and died since the mid-1800s.

Even in his last years when he was an invalid, with little vision and not able to do much for himself, he remained a gentleman; polite, considerate and appreciative of all the assistance he received. A day did not pass when he did not say, “Thank You for taking such good care of me.”

John leaves behind his wife of 66 years, Charlotte; children, William Warner Knipmeyer(Lucinda), Mary Katherine Pearson(Bryan) and Adele Marguerite Foster(Mark); grandchildren, John, Kirk, Katheryn “Katie,” Patrick, Becky, Jeffrey, Kevin, Matthew, Sarah, Laurel “Bee” and Madeline; and 13 great-grandchildren.

The family would like to thank Karen Scott and Judith Naquin for their continued compassion. Judy came to our family on All Saints Day and never failed to be anything less than our Saint Judy. He was a lifelong supporter of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and New Orleans Opera. In lieu of flowers, donations to the LPO are welcome.

Per John’s request, there will be no services. He will be laid to rest, along with his ancestors, in the family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery on Esplanade Ave.

Condolences are welcomed and may be directed to charknip@gmail.com



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