Charles K. Knisely
July 2, 1926 – January 1, 2021
Charles Kenneth Knisely (Chick) passed away on January 1, 2021, in Vero Beach, Florida. He was 94 years old. Chick was born on July 2, 1926, in Bellefonte, PA, to Albert E. Knisely and Charlotte (Lotti) Grimm Knisely. Chick’s maternal grandparents emigrated from Germany in the mid-1800s and settled in State College, PA, where his grandfather was one of the town’s original incorporators. Chick delighted in sharing that his paternal grandfather descended from one of the five Knisely brothers who left a monastery in Switzerland to settle in Lancaster, PA, in the 1700s, and are the forefathers of all American Kniselys. As a boy growing up in Bellefonte in a household with nine siblings, Chick loved to fish, hunt, and play baseball. He learned to drive when he was only twelve years old and had a job working in his brother-in-law’s auto garage. He was an earnest and successful student who graduated from Bellefonte High School with perfect attendance. When he was seventeen, and the United States entered World War II, Chick convinced his father to sign the consent papers allowing him to enlist in the United States Army. Chick spent a year at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA, before deploying to Europe with the Fifth Infantry Division of General George Patton’s Third Army where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Chick rarely spoke of his time in the War, but with his son and grandson he was proud to attend the dedication of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, in May 2004. Chick was honorably discharged from the Army in 1946, and returned to Pennsylvania to study Chemical Engineering at Penn State University under the GI Bill; Chick was an ardent and life-long fan of the Nittany Lions. While at Penn State, he was invited on a blind double-date, where he met and was smitten by the vivacious and charming Lillian Holland from Mountoursille, PA. After a courtship that included dancing, picnics, and lots of laughter, the couple married in Williamsport, PA, in the fall of 1949. Chick graduated from Penn State in the spring of 1950. After Chick’s graduation, the couple moved to a house one block from Lake Erie in Ashtabula, OH, and Chick began his career in chemical engineering with Blanchard Bro & Lane leather company. By 1957, the couple had moved to the company’s main plant in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, and their son Ken was born. Two years later, Chick took a job with the Specialty Chemical Division of Thompson & Company in Oakmont, PA, and it was there in 1959 that their son Kerry was born. By 1962, Chick had taken a job as President and General Manager of the Permuthane Division of the Beatrice Foods Corporation in Peabody, MA, and had settled his family in Boxford, MA. During their early years in Boxford, Chick and Lil were actively involved in establishing Our Savior Lutheran Church in neighboring Topsfield, MA. Chick was president of the church when it and the parsonage were built, and Lil later served as the church organist. Over the years, Chick’s job took him on business trips around the world. He and Lil remained in Boxford until Chick’s retirement in 1991, when the couple began to spend the New England winters in their condominium in Bradenton, FL. Sadly, Chick lost Lil to cancer shortly after he retired. In 1993, Chick married Patrica Trethaway, the widowed friend of his and Lil’s from their time in Ashtabula, when Pat’s husband and Chick had been colleagues and the two couples had become good friends. Pat shared Chick’s passion for golf and baseball and the Pennsylvania mountains. Together, the two undertook the restoration of what became the jewel of Chick’s retired life: the cabin that he built in the Pennsylvania mountains in the late 1950s with his father-in-law Roy Holland. Built on a foundation of Pennsylvania stone, the cabin was christened the Knisely Holland Hut. It became Chick’s labor of love and the center of Knisely family gatherings. Every summer, Chick gathered his family at the cabin, and with his sons, their families, and their dogs, he fished the pond, built fish dams in the creek, and collected firewood for the nightly gatherings around the stone fire pit. He celebrated his 80th birthday at the Knisely Holland Hut with Pat, his sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, his son and his grandchildren. His family plans to gather there this summer to celebrate the remarkable life of a man who loved his family fiercely, embraced life with optimism and generosity, and whose heart was always in the Pennsylvania mountains. Chick was predeceased by his wife Lillian and his son Ken. He is survived by his widow Patricia Trethaway Knisely of Vero Beach, FL; his son Kerry Knisely (Donna) of Boxford, MA; his daughters-in-law Cindy Knisely of Reading, MA, and Leslie Lagomarcino of Arlington, VA; four grandchildren, Jamie Knisely Yedlin (Dylan) of Reading, MA, Jack Knisely (Jenna) of Boxford, MA, and Erik Knisely and Kirsten Knisely of Arlington, VA; and two great grandchildren, Sidney Yedlin and Cooper Knisely.