David William Knowles, 95 years, of Nauvoo, Illinois passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Thursday, July 30, 2020. He was born on February 1, 1925, in Keokuk, Iowa to David O. and Martha (Daggs) Knowles. Dave was proud of his South 6th Street roots, where he developed lifelong friendships during his formative years. After graduation from Keokuk HS in 1943, he joined the US Navy serving as quartermaster and helmsman on Patrol Torpedo (PT) craft where he saw action in numerous World War II campaigns in the South Pacific. Dave earned the Purple Heart and Navy Commendation Ribbon for valor during a rescue mission recovering injured sailors from a burning ship. Having served for a time on PT Boat #110, he liked to joke that had he been on one boat down (#109) he could have been the President.
Following the war, he returned to Keokuk where he met and married the love of his life, Margaret Ann (Bruegger) Knowles of Nauvoo, with whom he celebrated over 56 years of marriage. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, Dave became the first member of his family to attend college, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Carthage College, and his Master of Arts in Education Administration from Western Illinois University, where he later completed a Specialist’s Certification for public school superintendent. During his educational career, Dave taught and coached in Wayland, Missouri and Dallas City, Illinois. He served as elementary principal in Dallas City and Hamilton, Illinois, then went on to serve as district superintendent in Bowen, Nauvoo, and Streator Woodland, Illinois before retiring with 35 years of service credit in public education. Following his years in education, Dave served as the Executive Director of the Hancock County Mental Health Center in Carthage. After 20 years at the Mental Health Center, he retired again in 1981 to pursue his love of family, golf, traveling, and his early morning coffee club. During his long careers and retirement he was active in the following organizations: SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, National Education Association/Illinois Education Association, Illinois Association of School Administrators where he held state office, American Legion, VFW, board member of Hancock County Housing Authority, PT Boats Veterans’ Association, Keokuk Lions, Deer Run Golf Club, City Councilman and Mayor of Nauvoo.
He is survived by his four children: David Knowles, of San Marcos, Texas, Richard (Nancy) Knowles, of Mackinaw, Illinois, Douglas (Pam) Knowles, of Nauvoo, Illinois, Jane Hamma, of Nauvoo, Illinois. He was the beloved grandfather of 11: Ann (James) Frugoni, Mary Claire (Becky) Knowles, Amanda (Jeff) Brock, Sarah (Rob Kennedy) Brackney, Luke Brackney, Leslie (Justin) Brown, Andy (Courtney) Knowles, Bill (Cicily) Knowles, John (Kendra) Knowles, Tim (Val) Hamma and Justin (Patty) Hamma; great grandfather of 21: Kyle and Taylor Frugoni; Jett and Sully Knowles; Emily, Casey and Lindsey Brock; Mattie Bryant and Lyda Kennedy; Grace Margaret Ann, Gardner, Bella, and Ivy Brown; Marley and Colton Knowles; Aadyn and Adelyn Knowles; Cooper and Millie Knowles; Abigail and Natalie Hamma. He was also survived by numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Margaret Ann, two sisters: Ruth Seyb and Helen Stephens, great grandson, Jackson Knowles Brown and son in law, Dennis Hamma.
Dave will be best remembered for his dedication to his family, faith, his patriotic spirit as exemplified by having served on the Honor Guard for countless veteran funerals, and his commitment to education for all students.
The family will greet friends from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Sunday, August 2, 2020 at the Barr Memorial Chapel, Fort Madison, Iowa. Social distancing requirements will be in place and attendees may be limited according to those requirements. Masks are required. A private family Mass of Christian Burial at SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church will be held followed by burial with full military rites at the SS Peter and Paul Cemetery, Nauvoo, Illinois. In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established for SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Nauvoo EMS and Keokuk American Legion. Contributions may be made at the Barr Memorial Chapel. Barr Memorial Chapel is honored to serve the Knowles family and an online guest book can be found at www.barrmemorialchapel.com.