Friends and colleagues describe the death of H.W. Knapheide III, the president of Knapheide Manufacturing, as the loss of a visionary.
H.W. Knapheide III was often referred to as "Knap." Knap died unexpectedly in his home Tuesday night, a day before what would have been his 73rd birthday.
"He left here yesterday doing fine and then to get that message that he passed away, I think to me shock is the word that describes it the most," said Jim Rubottom, friend and coworker.
Knapheide isn’t just the name of the major Quincy manufacturer, it’s the name of the family who oversees the day-to-day operations there. Knap was a 5th generation family member who became president in 1978. He was instrumental in helping this family company become a key U.S. producer of service and utility truck bodies.
"He had a vision for our company that started way back in the 60’s when he was the first one who brought service bodies into the Knapheide company," said Rubottom.
After the flood of 1993 nearly wiped out the Knapheide facility in West Quincy, Knap never threw in the towel.
"His endurance in the floods was phenomenal," said Rocky Murry, friend and co-worker. "He was right there with us bagging sand. He was in the boats bagging sand. He never expected out of you what he wouldn’t give from himself."
That tenacity carried over into his humanitarian work and left a lasting impression on those who were around him most.
"My favorite saying is from Abraham Lincoln, ‘A man never stood so tall as when he stooped to help a child.’ Knap Knapheide is the tallest man I ever met," said Murry. "What he did for the kids in this community is beyond description. You can’t put a dollar amount on it."
His contributions very seldom recognized.
"What a humble man," said Murry. "Never once did he step out in the limelight and say ‘I did this’ for recognition. He always did it for the right reason. A great humanitarian that this community will never be able to replace."
Hansen-Spear Funeral Directors are in charge of the arrangements.