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Frank A. Knittel Passes Away


The Chattanoogan announced today the passing of Frank A. Knittel, an Adventist university administrator, business owner, pastor, and professor, who also served in the United States Army. Knittel, 87, was a resident of Ooltewah, Tennessee near Southern Adventist University, and was a member of the Collegedale Community Church of Seventh-day Adventists. He is survived by his wife, Helen Dean Knittel, his son, Jeff Knittel, his daughter, Sherry Knittel Drew, five grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, at the Collegedale University Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In the 1982 Vol. 13, No. 2 edition of Spectrum Magazine, Joan Marie Cook and Marie Jennings wrote about one of the defining episodes in Knittel’s time as president of Southern College. Their article was reprinted on the Spectrum website in June of 2009.

At the time of Knittel’s passing, La Sierra University President Emeritus Larry Geraty shared the following remembrance:

I first met Frank Knittel during the ‘60s when I was a Seminary student and he was Vice President for Student Affairs (Dean of Students) at Andrews University.  He was thought of as a student advocate, innovative, creative, energetic, and able.

By the time I arrived back on campus to teach in the ‘70s, he was president of what became Southern Adventist University. Several of us were unhappy with some of the decisions being made by the denomination at the time so decided to get together to make common cause.  Frank offered to host us in Atlanta so I was part of a group who flew in from Berrien Springs in a small private plane—quite an experience to land on the huge new runway at Hartsfield International Airport with large jets in front of us and behind us! Frank was encouraging and helpful as we came up with the infamous “Atlanta Declaration.”

We went on to have helpful interactions when we were fellow college presidents. By the time I came to La Sierra University, he was a Professor of English and also recruited for the graduate program in English.  Having been a seasoned administrator, he was always encouraging and supportive and a never-ending source of wisdom. Upon his retirement, he became Professor Emeritus, and moved to Keene, Texas, where he did a stint as mayor!  Having received a medallion of excellence from the Charles Weniger Society back in 1981, when I became president of the Society for a few years, I invited him to come to LLU Church in 2010 to give the Emmerson Address at the annual meeting of the Society. It was a “no-holds-barred” lecture that would have made his teacher, Charles Weniger, proud.

It is, therefore, with a profound sense of loss that I heard about Frank’s passing. He was a role model for any academic administrator. Absolutely loyal to the church, he was an original thinker, with a gift for encouragement.  His legacy will live on in the lives of the countless students and friends whose lives are the richer for having been influenced by him.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Worthy Student Fund at Southern Adventist University. Those who wish to share thoughts and remembrances of Frank Knittel may do so online at

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