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William Lee Knecht

July 8, 1928 ~ June 1, 2018 (age 89)

Bill passed away peacefully June 1, 2018. He was born in Newark, NJ, 8 July 1928, to Ora Knowlton Lee and William Peter Knecht. As first-born he had the great pleasure of sharing in the growing up of sisters, Jean Knecht Eldredge, Gretchen Knecht Clark and brother Peter Anthony Knecht. Among Bill’s hobbies (which included carpentry, reading, photography, gardening, historic research, writing and vexillology), was searching for links to ancestors.

His family lived in the Boston area for the first 10 years of his life. The family moved to Wimbledon, England, but was evacuated a year later, leaving England the same day Hitler marched on Poland to begin World War II. The family returned to Shrewsbury, MA where Bill lived until he attended BYU. After serving a mission for the LDS church (Southern States Mission) and graduating in 1951, he enlisted in the US Army (82nd Airborne) and ended his years in the military as a member of the Central Intelligence Corp (CIC).

He married Eunice Harmon Knecht in 1952 (later divorced) and they had 5 children. Bill attended Harvard Law School graduating in 1959. The family then moved to Berkeley, California where Bill was appointed to head the Public Utilities Department for California Farm Bureau Federation and his responsibilities took him from top to bottom of California as he represented the states farmers.

By happenstance, he found himself helping with the legalities of adoption, and for ten years helped about 900 LDS birth mothers and adoptive families. He considered it the most fulfilling time of his career.

One of Bill’s most interesting opportunities came when Gov. Ronald Reagan asked him to take a case involving La Raza and Caesar Chavez.  Later Bill was nominated by then President Gerald Ford, for a position on the Board of Legal Services Corporation, which required US Senate confirmation. [1]

Bill was happiest when serving others, he was an Eagle Scout, and served in many capacities; teacher, bishoprics, stake executive secretary, seminary teacher [2] in the various wards in which he lived; he especially loved teaching and challenging others to learn.      

He is survived by his three younger siblings; and his five children; Beth K. Thomas (Brian), Bill (Angie), David (Florence), Richard (Kathy), and John (Cina); 22 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.

Bill requested that no services be held. He donated is body to the University of Utah Medical School in the hopes that he could continue to contribute to others. He did request that anyone wanting to remember him could make a donation to the Emily Kellam Baker Endowed Scholarship Fund, through LDS Philanthropies, 1450 North University Ave., Provo, UT 84604. Guestbook to post messages for the family available at: HolbrookMortuary.com


[1] Hearings before the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, United States Senate, Ninety-Fourth Congress, First Session . . . May 14, 15, 21; June 2, 11; And July 8, 1975, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., p. 273-74.

[2] Oakland Stake, Annual History, 1988 (3 volumes)

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