Richard F. Knox, who worked as a professor of electrical engineering in Pullman from Sept. 1948 to Dec. 1984, died July 13, 2017 in Milwaukie, Ore.
Knox, 97, was born Feb. 4, 1920, on a sheep ranch in Rosebud County, Mont. He was the fourth of five sons born to Edgar Allen and Nellie Elizabeth (DeGood) Knox. Growing up in rural Montana during the Great Depression instilled a sense of frugality and appreciation for hard work that served him throughout his life.
He graduated from Rosebud High School in 1937 and immediately went to work with the Civilian Conservation Corps, an experience which opened his eyes to the beauty of the mountain wilderness where he would find solace and recreation for the rest of his life. In 1938, Frank moved to Ellensburg, Wash., where he began his college career at Central Washington College of Education.
With the onset of World War II, he heeded the advice of a trusted professor and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army and volunteered for Communications Cadet School. He was accepted and earned an officer’s commission in the Army Air Corps on July 15, 1942. Knox spent his war years as a communications officer assigned to the 95th Bomb Group which was stationed primarily at Horham Air Base in England. He served with distinction, earning a Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He served four years, four months and four days of active duty, separating at war’s end with the rank of major. He continued his military career in the Air Force Reserve. He retired in 1968 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Awaiting reassignment in Santa Ana, Calif., after VE Day, Knox attended a USO dance where he met the love of his life, Helen Edith Price. They were married July 13, 1946. After war’s end, he went back to college, attending Cal-Poly for math and physics review, then on to UCLA. His brother Lloyd, however, had other ideas and invited Frank to join him at Washington State College in Pullman. Frank and Helen moved there in August 1947, and so began their life on the Palouse.
Frank earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from WSC (now WSU), in the spring of 1948. He had a job lined up with the Clark County Public Utility District in Vancouver, Wash., but providence intervened in the form of the Vanport Flood on the lower Columbia River. The flood wiped out the new post-war housing in the Portland area and with no housing available, the job offer was withdrawn. Instead, he accepted an offer of an instructor’s position in the electrical engineering department at WSC, and thus began his 37 year career at Washington State University.
Frank and Helen would spend most of four decades living in and contributing to the Pullman community. While there, they raised five sons: Robert Allen, David Glen, Gregory Paul, Wesley Michael and Richard Eugene. They were active members of the Pullman Presbyterian Church.
Knox spent 25 years as the scoutmaster of Pullman Troop 444 of the Boy Scouts of America. He loved sharing his love of the wilderness with the boys and provided opportunities of adventure in the form of weekend campouts, 50 mile backpacking trips, whitewater canoeing and summer camps. His leadership and guidance helped develop hundreds of boys into young men with a reverence to God, a love of country and a sense of service to their community. All traits Frank instilled merely by example. Many will remember Frank from the annual Boy Scout Christmas Tree Sale at Dissmore’s grocery store.
Knox retired from WSU in 1985. He and Helen then moved to a lake house on Newman Lake, near Spokane. There, Frank fished while Helen swam and gardened. During this time, they took numerous trips pulling their Airstream trailer, including one notable trek up the Al-Can Highway to Alaska. They volunteered with the Newman Lake Volunteer Fire Department. Still active in the Presbyterian Church, Frank and Helen were instrumental in the establishment of the East Valley Presbyterian Church in Otis Orchards. In 1996, when the remoteness of their lake house became an issue, Frank and Helen moved to a 13 acre alfalfa farm in Otis Orchards which they shared with middle son Gregory, his wife Tara (Lubach) and grandchildren Katherine Louise and Christopher Paul.
The turn of the new century saw Frank and Helen moving to West Linn, Ore., to be closer to their eldest sons, Robert and David. Here they moved into the old nanny quarters in the home of David and daughter-in-law Janice Vaughn and reveled in the joys of sharing the coming of age of grandchildren Zachary Aaron, Rachel Melissa and Jessica Brittany.
In 2008, Frank and Helen moved to Somerset Lodge, an independent retirement facility in Gladstone, Ore. Frank’s outgoing personality and Helen’s stoic resolve and devotion to God made them a popular couple. The two remained at Somerset Lodge until Helen’s stroke put her into an adult care facility with hospice care. Helen passed away in January and Frank entered the same adult care facility, where he, as had Helen, received excellent care and attention. Frank remained there until he joined his loving wife, Helen, in the encompassing arms of Jesus. Frank passed away on what would have been their 71st wedding anniversary.
Frank was preceded in death by his wife, Helen; his brothers, Robert Leonidas, Melburn Coe, Joy Allen and Lloyd Edgar; niece, Linda Gayle (Knox) Cole; and nephew, Greg Hildreth. He is survived by his five sons, five grandchildren, and two great-grandsons, Zayden Amir and Zaccai Aaron, children of Zach and LaWanda (Smith) Knox; nieces, Joann Eleanor (Knox) Schulenberg, Sarah Alice (Knox) Miyazaki and Margaret Nell (Knox) Kountz; and nephews, Melburn Coe Knox Jr., Jeff Hildreth, Theodore Thomas Knox and Kevin Lloyd Knox. Other survivors include son Richard’s adopted daughter, Terressa Katherine King, and her children, Julian Teague James, Chloe Irene Bliven and Haven May Nelson.
Frank requested that memorial donations be directed to the long term building fund of the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, the Emmanuel Youth Program or to the Boy Scouts of America at their regional office in Spokane.