Dennis Knaack, 63

Dennis Knaack of West Bend, WI, known as “Knobby” to many of his friends, died at his home of an apparent heart attack the evening of Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at the age of 63 years.

Dennis Wilbert Knaack was born on Nov 4, 1948, in Berlin, Wis., to Wilbert and Sadie Knaack. He lived in Princeton, Wis., until the age of 9 when he and his family moved to Manawa. Dennis was a three sport athlete at Manawa high school, starring at quarterback in football, point guard in basketball and shortstop in baseball. In the years before divisional format, the small town 1966 Manawa basketball team reached sectionals in the state tournament where they lost to Green Bay West.

Dennis attended the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater from 1966 to 1971, earning a degree in English and teaching. Upon graduation, Dennis worked as a claims adjustor for Wausau Insurance where he would spend his entire career through ownership changes and mergers, rising through the ranks to become a top Sales Account Executive before his retirement in 2003. He and his family first moved to West Bend in 1978, where he would live for the rest of his life.

Dennis participated in local basketball and softball leagues in West Bend for many years. In addition, he was an avid fisherman and hunter. He frequently walleye fished on Lake Winnebago, the Wolf River and other places in the state. He spent much of his time in the fall hunting in the Black River State Forest for turkey, grouse and deer where he eventually bought a cabin to spend more time at. He was a top-notch camp master leading decades of successful gun deer seasons with 10-15 hunters in camp where every family went home with a deer and a good time was had by all for many years.

In 2004, Dennis began dating the love of his life, Carolyn, who he eventually married in 2009. Dennis and Carolyn enjoyed evenings on the back deck of their home on the northwest side of West Bend sipping wine and manhattans and enjoying the beautiful view of West Bend below them. In the winters they frequently visited island destinations including Jamaica, New Zealand and Costa Rica. As their family grew in recent years, Dennis and Carolyn loved spending time with their grandchildren in Madison and Milwaukee.

Dennis is survived by his wife Carolyn; mother Sadie Knaack; sisters Lola Zaug (Dale) and Anita Kutella (Ron); daughter Rita Napieralski (Adam); son Ryan Knaack (Trisha); step-son Joe Sacco (Kaori); step-son Andy Sacco (Savanna); step-daughter Sara Kazmierski (Mike); granddaughters Alana Knaack and Elly Napieralski; grandson Ronin Kazmierski, aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and countless friends. Dennis is preceded in death by his father Wilbert.

Visitation will be held at Phillip Funeral Home, 1420 W. Paradise Drive in West Bend from 4-7:15 p.m. on Friday, May 4, with a memorial service to follow at Phillip Funeral Home. Another visitation will be held at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 742 Depot St. in Manawa at noon on Saturday May 5, with services to follow at 1 p.m. The Rev. Wally Waite of Manawa will be officiating. Dennis was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in West Bend. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the American Heart Association.

The Phillip Funeral Home of West Bend is assisting the family.
(262) 338-2050