Peter E. Knauss

Peter E. Knauss

Peter E. Knauss

GUILDERLAND — Peter E. Knauss, a longtime resident of Guilderland, was key in setting up group homes for people with disabilities at a time when that was often unpopular. He died on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Madison, Wisconsin, with his son Jody by his side. He was 88.

“He will be remembered as a genuinely kind, friendly, and good man,” his family wrote in a tribute.

Mr. Knauss and his family moved to Guilderland in 1965, when he took a new job with what is now the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. For most of his 30-year career, he coordinated the state’s efforts to establish group homes for people with developmental disabilities who had formerly been isolated in large institutions.

“Group homes are commonplace now, but in the 1970s they were often met with hostility and even violence from local residents who feared neighbors who were different,” his family wrote. “Pete persisted with reason and patience, home by home, and New York state is a better place because of his work.”

Mr. Knauss was born in 1929 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of two teachers. He graduated from Cooley High School in 1946. He then attended Antioch College in Ohio, where he met his future wife, Marilyn Jane Whaley. They graduated together in 1952 and were married on June 28, 1952.

After college, Mr. Knauss served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He noted with humility that he was safely stationed in Germany throughout the conflict.

“Lynn and Pete were married 55 years and raised four children. Lynn died in 2008 after a battle with ALS that left her on a ventilator for her final year,” his family wrote. “Pete nursed her through it all. He missed her terribly after she was gone.”

During the 1970s, Mr. Knauss served three terms on the Guilderland School Board, including several years as president. He and his wife were longtime members of St. Boniface Episcopal Church. Mr. Knauss coached Little League and was a leader in developing Guilderland’s first community center.

“He attended many a meeting,” his family wrote. “Despite relocating to Wisconsin in 2016 to be closer to family, he retained his Altamont Enterprise subscription and his interest in local affairs.

“Pete liked jazz, an evening glass of bourbon, Detroit sports teams, newspapers and magazines, and talking politics. He loved his family, and most of all Lynn. He  passed on to his children, by his daily example, a deep trust in the power of reason, honest discourse, and goodwill.”


Peter E. Knauss is survived by a brother, Robert Knauss and his wife, Chi Chi, of Brenham, Texas, and Saugatuck, Michigan; a daughter, Lori Beary, and her husband, Jerry, of Knoxville, Iowa; three sons, Tim  Knauss and his wife, Bobbi, of Syracuse; Jody Knauss and his wife, Mary, of Madison, Wisconsin; and David Knauss and his wife, Sarah, of Boston, Massachusetts; 10 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and nine nieces and nephews.

His wife, Marilyn Jane Whaley Knauss, died before him as did his older brother, John Knauss, and a grandson, Ben Beary.

A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. on March 3 at St. Boniface Episcopal Church at 5148 Western Turnpike (Route 20) in Guilderland. Family will stay after the service to meet with visitors.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Boniface Church, Post Office Box 397, Guilderland, NY 12084; or to St. Peter’s ALS Regional Center, 19 Warehouse Row, Albany, NY 12205.


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