Jay Coleman Knepper, Ph.D., 79

Jay Coleman Knepper, Ph.D., died February 27, 2022, in Andersonville, Tennessee, at the age of seventy-nine.

Jay is survived by his wife, Mary, and two children: Bradley Knepper, his wife, Alisa, and their two children, Eva and Toren, Denver, Colorado; and Claire Knepper Phillips and her son Eliano, Lyons, Colorado. His brother David preceded him in death; his brother Mark and wife Bobbi live in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Jay was born on January 11, 1943, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to Jay and Margaret Knepper. He earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University. He was awarded several patents for his work at Sun Oil and Amoco/BP. His research at Amoco/BP contributed to refining optimization, including an in-situ retorting process to recover oil from oil shale in an economical, efficient, and environmentally improved way. Later in his career, he worked in Marketing, using AI and neural networks to locate gas station sites. After leaving Amoco/BP, he supported Mary’s consulting business, working as both CFO and consultant.

After he retired, he and Mary moved from Naperville, Illinois, to their home in Andersonville, where Jay pursued his passion for photography, woodworking, brewing, baking sourdough bread, and perfect roasting of coffee beans. His approach to projects was intense study of the details and respect for and comparison of experts’ advice. He would acquire that extra tool or device to ensure a quality project or to achieve process efficiency.

Many were happy recipients of his craftsmanship—from large and small pieces of furniture and loaves of bread to beers he created and named specifically for friends’ special occasions. He was generous with his time and possessions, willing to loan and donate equipment to all comers. He committed to tutoring students in calculus to help them achieve university scholarships in an intense extracurricular program. He was committed to social justice, the environment, socially responsible corporations, animal welfare, and care for disadvantaged persons in whatever circumstance.

He was a loving and supportive father to his children. He found joy in sharing time with family and friends, expressing his love with warm laughter, playful humor, and enthusiastic embraces. He reveled in deep discussions with compassion, kindness, and gentleness. The sequestering that COVID imposed was a great loss to him, yet he found meaning and deepening appreciation in the loss.

He enjoyed travel, including trips to Hong Kong, Great Britain, Poland, Greece, India, Russia, France, and Italy. He was a great biker, biking daily to work in Denver. Later, he and Mary biked Rails to Trails in the States and through Provence, France, and from Banff to Jasper in the Canadian Rockies.

Celebrations of life will be held in Grove City, Pennsylvania, at his parents’ gravesite for immediate family and in the Norris area with a life celebration at a future date. 

Memorial gifts can be sent to local charities, including the Norris Area Food Pantry (PO Box 327, Norris, TN 37716), Bridge Refugee Servies, Volunteer Ministries, Second Harvest of ET, Africa ELI, WUOT, or to Best Friends, Doctors Without Borders, Audubon Society, Physicians Committee, and Corporate Accountability. In short, if an organization does good for the world, your gift will honor what Jay tried to do with his life. www.holleygamble.com

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