John W. Knapp, 64, Wahpeton, ND, passed away Sunday, September 22, 2013 at St. Catherine's Living Center, Wahpeton, ND. The Funeral Mass will be at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, September 28, at St. John's Catholic Church, Wahpeton, ND, with Rev. Gregory Haman as celebrant. Visitation with the family will be one hour before the service. Interment will be at Calvary Cemetery, Wahpeton. Arrangements have been entrusted to Vertin-Munson Funeral Home, Wahpeton.
John was born in Los Angeles on April 14, 1949. At age ten, John lost his father, upon which grandparents Earl and Mary Ruddy took a greater role in his upbringing. John often spoke of how he would attend Sunday Mass with Grandpa Earl and Grandma, after which the family would breakfast at The Pantry or Phillipe's and then spend the afternoon driving around L.A., looking at land.
John's passion for North Dakota began with family trips out to the Montreal Farm, his grandfather's birthplace. John spent much of his youth here, building memories (and wonderful stories) with Uncle George, Aunt Mary, and cousins. Later, John graduated from U.N.D. in 1971, where he was actively involved in the Theta Chi fraternity and the school's R.O.T.C. program. Time spent in North Dakota instilled in John a deep love for the state and a believer in North Dakota values and its people.
John attended law school at Pepperdine University from 1975 to 1978, followed by a year of tax law at New York University School of Law. John concluded his military service in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1978 after achieving the rank of Captain. John worked as a staff member of the presidential election in 1972 and as an administrative assistant to a California legislator from 1973 to 1975. During the 1980s, John practiced law in San Mateo, California. He served as an officer of the San Mateo Elks Lodge BPOE #1112 and became Exalted Ruler in 1988.
In November 1982, John married Christina M. Ljunghorn, of Stockholm, Sweden, after she had been introduced to the family in July of that summer at the centennial celebration of the homesteading of the Montreal Farm. If you asked John what his greatest success in life was, he would answer quickly that along with marrying Christina, it was raising two delightful daughters Cecilia and Elisabeth. In the early 1990s the family moved to Dallas, Texas, where John started a land investment company. In 1998 the family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, and finally, in 2007, John and Christina "retired" to Wahpeton, completing the circle.
John was a proud member of the Theta Ki Fraternity, the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, a Pepperdine Law School board member, and a supporter of his alma mater Junipero Serra High School. He also treasured his time as board member of U.N.D.'s College of Business and Public Administration and the Energy & Environmental Research Center.
John is survived by his wife, Christina; his two daughters, Cecilia and Elisabeth; his brother Jim (Kelly) Knapp; his niece, Jacqueline; his Swedish family, and many dear cousins. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, grandparents, and many special aunts and uncles.
John's family wishes to thank the staff of St. Catherine's for the respect they showed him and for the sensitive and attentive care. Many thanks to April and Carol for working the night shift. Thank you to Sr. Marie and Fr. Greg for their compassionate spiritual guidance. And deep gratitude to the many relatives, fraternity brothers, neighbors and friends who visited so often and helped with John's care. Our journey was much easier because of you.
John was extremely proud of his girls. Family, traditions and sharing stories were priorities of John's. His dedication, thoughtfulness and deep love will never be forgotten. To honor John, go out of your way to spend time with family and dear friends. Share stories. Make a difference to someone, even if it's a small act of kindness. Enjoy conversation over a meal with others. Take in the beauty of North Dakota, the setting sun, and the amber waves of grain. But most of all, honor John by driving SLOWLY by the Montreal Farm, so as to not stir up the dust.
The family requests that any memorial be given to Junipero Serra High School, 14830 South Van Ness Ave., Gardena, California, 90249.