In Memoriam: Keith Knecht (1940-2011)
Keith Knecht, a well-known signmaker and pinstriper who began his career in 1956, passed away on the morning of August 30 at the age of 71. In a tribute posted on the American Sign Museum's blog, Museum president Tod Swormstedt noted the opening line of the a Robert W. Service poem that was Knecht's favorite: "There's a race of men that don't fit in, a race that can't stay still ... "
He travelled the world painting signs, showcards, panels and other items until he began to lose his vision approximately five years ago. At a Letterhead meet at Detroit's Cobo Arena two years ago, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the trade.
Feeling the quality of his life had eroded and knowing his condition wouldn't improve, he stopped dialysis treatments and arranged a "farewell" party for his many friends at Michael's, a favorite restaurant in his hometown of Toledo, OH, on the Friday before his passing.
Tributes were also offered on www.handletteringforum.com. Mark Oatis, himself a signmaking legend, said "Keith has been ambassador number one for our craft for over 50 years. He's worked, learned, given and shared with sign artists across the country. His boundless passion, enthusiasm and humor have inspired everyone." Kent Smith, owner of Smith Sign Studio (Greeley, CO), said "Keith is a man of honor and dignity who has brought joy to all who have spent time in his aura." Jay Allen, owner of Shawcraft Sign Studio (Machesney Park, IL), said "He walked the talk and was an amazing early force [in the Letterhead movement]."
If anyone wishes to memorialize Keith, he asked that contributions be made to the American Sign Museum or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.