Dr. Clifford E. Knapp, 78, of Oregon, Illinois, husband of Nancy Churchill, passed away unexpectedly Sunday, September 17, 2017. He was born in New Jersey, son of the late Edward and Louise Knapp of Ridgefield, NJ, where he grew up.
He is survived by his sister, Mary Louise Spivak of Vermont, his brother, Steven Knapp, who lives with his wife Jackie in New Jersey; three daughters: Dawn Martel of Lombard, IL, Eve Knapp of Ferndale, MD, and Jenny Franz who lives in Lombard with her husband, Scott; seven grandchildren: Cindy Ward and husband Adam Ward, Shawn Culhane, Eric Vooys, Shannon Vooys, Cory Martel, Ryan Franz and Lucy Franz; and two great-grandsons, Aiden Ward and Bobby Clogston. His sister Madeleine Knapp and son Ryan Knapp preceded him in death.
Cliff was a pioneer in the field of outdoor education. He received his Ph.D. at Southern Illinois University before becoming director at Northern Illinois University’s Lorado Taft Field Campus, Oregon, IL, in 1980. After serving in that role for 3 years, he continued as a professor in the Outdoor Teacher Education program until he retired in 2001.
He was teacher, mentor and friend to many grad students from all over the world pursuing degrees in Outdoor Teacher Education at Lorado Taft. His deep devotion to Indian Country at Waswagoning on the Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin Reservation prompted many of his students to follow similar paths through the Taft Native Colloquiums. Cliff never lost his sense of wonder or energy in studying nature and human interaction with nature, giving workshops throughout retirement across the country and abroad, authoring and co-authoring numerous books and articles right up to the end. He was looking forward to healing so he could edit his forthcoming book one last time: “Blazing Trails: Early Naturalists Connecting with Nature.”
Cliff was a beacon in his field, and will be dearly missed.
A celebration of Cliff’s life is planned for Saturday, November 4, 1 to 4 p.m., at the Taft Dining Hall, Lorado Taft Campus, 1414 N. River Rd, Oregon, IL. The venue will be open all day, and rooms will be available for out-of-town guests Friday through Sunday. Contact the family to reserve rooms, not Taft.