It is with solemn hearts that we announce the passing of the founder of Wiring Harness News, Fred Knaack. Along with starting Wiring Harness News in 1994, he was also one of the founders of the Wire Harness Manufactures Association (WHMA). Because WHN and WHMA began around the same time, many have assumed, even to this day, that they were tied together. But Fred kept his publication endeavor operating as a separate entity, and sold the publication to his private partners some 20 years ago.
Marilyn Magowan of Wiring Harness News worked with Fred in the beginning, and remembers the upbeat and friendly atmosphere he cultivated. “Fred was a fun guy and we all enjoyed his company.” She added, “He was very kind to his employees and everybody he dealt with both professionally and personally.” Marilyn also noted how seriously he took the business, saying, “Fred was very innovative and knew how to get things done.”
In the early days, Fred worked closely with Norm Sagon, another WHMA pioneer. “I knew Fred for more than 28 years with WHMA and WHN,” Norm noted, “and also his father Gus, after whom we developed the WHMA ‘Bud and Gus Award.’” Fred, along with Dennis Melugin, created the special recognition award in memory of their fathers Gus Knaack of Able Cable, and Bud Melugin of Lamcor, Inc. Recipients were nominated based on exemplary work and special achievements within the wire harness industry. The winner was voted on at the annual WHMA BOD meetings.
Always the idea guy, Fred was also instrumental when the original format of the EWPT Expo in Milwaukee was crafted. “Fred was the main reason we did things right when we started the Expo,” said Jay Partington of EPI Shows, the original and long-time managers of the show. “He knew so much about the wire harness industry. Fred told us who to talk to (and who not to) then wrote, and rewrote, the prospectus for the show,” Jay remembered.
Vernon Judy of Qualastat Electronics shared, “Fred enjoyed life and the people around him enjoyed Fred.” Many similar responses were shared as we spoke with folks about their experiences with Fred.
Those who know Fred will not be surprised that he wrote his own obituary. Even if you never had the pleasure of meeting Fred Knaack, we strongly encourage you to read his funny and uplifting words below.
Frederick William Knaack
1939 – 2020
Frederick William Knaack, age 81, Superior, WI.
I hope you enjoy reading my obituary as I am writing it myself. I have had a good life, but I hope everybody is very sad that I am gone and will miss me forever. I was born in Chicago, IL to Gustav and Edna Knaack, and spent many wonderful summers enjoying the Lake Geneva area. The best thing I ever did in my life was marry a beautiful woman, Lenore Rockne, and she gave me 4 amazing boys. The best thing Lenore ever did for herself was to divorce my sorry excuse for a husband. I am writing this so maybe one of you will read it and try to best the husband and father you can be because I screwed it all up. I have been lucky enough to spend many good years with my adult children.
I was in the Navy for two years as a photographer and loved every second it. I have been a magician (even live on the Art Linkletter show), a bartender, a pizza joint owner, general comedian, and a newspaper publisher. Are you a fan of wiring harnesses? My father, Gustav, owned Able Cable and I learned to love everything about wiring harnesses. This prompted me to start the Wiring Harness Association and The Wiring Harness News. I sold my portion of The Wiring Harness News 20 years ago and since that time, my dream has been to publish a funny newspaper for all of us that are getting old. We all just need to keep laughing and be able to make fun of our wrinkles and drooping body parts. In the spring of 2020, my dream came true as I found a business partner and we created The Golden Giggle (in stores and online now)! You should buy it but grab some tissues because you will laugh so hard you will cry! If you want to preview the paper, just cut out this obituary and mail it to: KnaackPack Media, 1507 Tower Avenue, #101, Superior WI 54880, and my secretary will send you a free copy in the mail. I wanted to leave a legacy for my grandchildren and hopefully, they will continue with my work. Obviously, if you are reading this, I am dead-so maybe don’t try and reach all your goals like I did as I must have done everything I wanted to do and then kicked the bucket-I sure hope I didn’t die from Covid-19. I wish I would have spent more time on Lake Geneva, and way more time in the Playboy Club. Why do all great things come to an end?
I leave behind some amazing people that I love more than they will ever know: My sons, Deryl, of Austin, TX, Kevin (Stacy) of Lake Nebagamon, WI, and Curtis (Pamela) of Lake Geneva, WI. My grandchildren, Michael Knaack, Curtis Knaack, Steven Knaack, Christopher Knaack, and Ryan Knaack. I also hit the lottery with step-grandchildren, Trevor (Sierra) Guenard, Olivia (Jacob) Zoltak, Wesley (Megan) Caple, Keenan Willow, and a bonus, Brian “B” Tapani. I have one step-great-grandchild, Adeline Guenard, nieces, Julie Knaack of Rockford, IL, Marcia Knaack of New Orleans, LA, Jenni (Tony) Benson of Rochester, MN, and two great nephews Caden and Brady Benson. In addition, I have two brothers, Richard (Sherri), of MN/FL and Robert (Cindy) of Woodstock, IL. To my brothers: Well, I guess you won the bet and I was the first to go. But good luck trying to get me to pay up! I am also survived my former wife, Lenore (Stephen) Pfaff of Port Hueneme, CA and my cat, Tom-Tom, of Superior, WI.
Don’t worry about me because I am now with my son, Galen “Rocky”, my parents, Edna (Finer) and Gustav Knaack, many aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and my beloved “Spike”. I have requested a private service in Lake Geneva, WI, to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations to Lakeland Animal Shelter, 3615 WI-67, Delavan, WI 53115, would be greatly appreciated to honor all the wonderful dogs and cats I have had. My remains were well taken care of by Downs Funeral Home, 1617 N 19th St., Superior, WI. To Gwen and Sue from The Dove Home Health Care: Thank you for taking care of me and putting up with all of my crap. Love you both!
Until we all meet again-I’ll keep a rabbit in my hat for you.