Harry Raymond Knowles, 80, passed away peacefully on January 8, 2024.
He was born April 2, 1943, to William Thomas and Juanita Lea Knowles in Kansas City, MO. He graduated from Raytown High School in 1961. In 1966 he enlisted in the US Army and achieved the rank of staff sergeant while serving in Germany before discharge in 1970. Upon his return, he worked as a machinist for over 30 years at Western Electric / AT&T in Lee’s Summit, MO.
He is survived by his current wife, Betty Knowles; his only child, William Knowles and wife Robin; Betty’s three children, Darrell Schupp and wife Betsy, Sheryl Schupp, Leigh Rogus and husband Joe; his grandchildren, Alyssa, Blake, Malena, Christopher, John, Sara, Joseph; and a growing legacy of great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Juanita Knowles; brother, Thomas Knowles and wife Linda; sister, Paula Kopp; and first wife, Delores Knowles.
Harry was a joyful man with big appetite and bigger heart. Compelled by an acceptance of everyone and refusal to judge, he spent a lifetime making friends. Innate curiosity and an ability to build and fix anything led to more projects being started than finished unless he was helping others, which he often did as a handyman, church trustee, or sign language interpreter to name a few.
As a gifted musician, Harry played piano, made the Boys’ Glee Club in high school, joined church choirs, loved singing duets with Betty, and had a booming bass voice that could be heard pews away. An avid apiarist, he spent decades as a beekeeper, wrote the newsletter and served as President of the Midwestern Beekeepers Association, judged at state fairs, led outreach programs at school assemblies, and always had a jar of honey to give to whomever he stopped to help fix a flat tire. Railroads were a childhood passion that carried into adulthood with ever bigger DIY models built in the basement. In retirement, he reached the pinnacle as conductor, Treasurer, and President of a short-line passenger railroad at the Belton, Grandview and Kansas City Railroad.
Of all these interests, what Harry cherished most was spending time with family and friends, and he will be dearly missed by everyone who knew him. In his final years, he received unparalleled care at the Missouri Veterans Home, for which his family is unspeakably grateful, before riding the rails to his final destination.
A private memorial service with military funeral honors will be held at a later date at the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg, MO. Burial will be at the Pleasant Green United Methodist Cemetery in Pilot Grove, MO. In place of flowers, contributions are suggested to The Smoky Hill Railway and Historical Society, Inc. at the Belton, Grandview, and Kansas City Railroad, 502 E. Walnut Street, Belton, MO 64012 (https://kcrrm.org/).