Walter Knapp passed away at his home in Santa Barbara surrounded by family on January 3, 2023, after a long illness. He was born in 1931, along with his identical twin brother, Roland, in Waiblingen, Germany, to Karl and Marie Knapp. Life during World War II was a hardship for his family, made worse by a propensity to speak out about injustices. His cousins, Hans and Sophie Scholl, were part of the student-led “White Rose” resistance against Hitler and the Nazi regime, but were caught and executed. These experiences shaped his life-long commitment to civil rights and anti-war causes.
When the war ended, he along with four of his eight siblings immigrated to the United States. In 1953, playing in a civic band in Milwaukee, he met and fell in love with a fellow German immigrant, Ingeborg Schroeder. Shortly thereafter he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served his adopted country as a medic, stationed at Fort Bliss and then Germany. While in the Army he became a US citizen and in 1956, took leave to marry Ingeborg in Beinstein, Germany, the town of his youth. Following his service he attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering, receiving a BS in Electrical Engineering. The couple then moved to Santa Monica, California, where Walter worked for North American Aviation and Westinghouse Electric. Their son, Eric, was born in 1962. In 1964 they moved to Santa Barbara where their son Roland (1964) and daughter Sonya (1967) were born. In the Santa Barbara area Walter worked for Applied Magnetics, Burroughs, and Joslyn Electronics, retiring in 1996.
Walter reveled in the outdoor opportunities the Santa Barbara area offered, including long walks on the beach and hiking local trails on the Los Padres National Forest. His adventurous spirit also led to many family vacations to national parks throughout the west. He enjoyed music and was a founding member of the Edelweiss Choir of Santa Barbara, singing with them from 1971-2020 and serving as the music director. In addition to local performances, the Choir traveled to Germany, Chile, and Brazil.
He is survived by his great love and wife of 66 years, Ingeborg, siblings Elke, Siegfried, and Sieglinde, children Eric (Stacey), Roland (Sally), and Sonya, and grandchildren Kalmia, Malcolm, and Stefan. A memorial celebration will be held at Lions Park (6197 Casitas Pass Rd, Carpinteria) from 11am – 1pm on April 11th – his birthday. Details and RSVP are available at https://knapproland.wixsite.com/walter-knapp. The family would like to express a special thanks to the hospice staff and Walter’s wonderful caregivers for their dedication during his final years.