Gerald R. Knecht
December 6, 1931 – March 11, 2017
Jerry Knecht was a happy man who led a beautiful life. He was passionate about everything he did, from law to farming, yet guided by a calm and formidable intelligence that usually brought him success as well as the love and respect of family, friends and colleagues. A deeply loving family man, Jerry leaves behind his devoted wife Suzanne, his children, Nancy Mansfield, Alex Knecht and Lisa Zavieh, their spouses and children, as well as a brother, Glen Knecht, and sister, Nancy Cimbal, and their families. He was predeceased by his parents, Wilma and Robert Knecht, and his eldest brother, Robert Knecht.
Jerry was raised in Syracuse, New York and came to the Bay Area to study. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1954 and Boalt Hall in 1957. After teaching a year at Stanford Law, he settled in San Francisco and established the firm Knecht, Dingus, Fink & Boring. His specialty was surety and construction litigation, which he practiced first with his firm, then solo for 10 years, then again as senior partner to the firm, by then Knecht, Haley, Lawrence & Smith. Health issues forced his retirement in 1991, after a career in which he loved every minute - especially those in the court room!
In retirement he and Suzy, aboard their 42’ sloop Night Watch, sailed to Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii, and to fulfill their long cherished dream, around the world, for which Jerry was given a circumnavigation pennant from the Cruising Club of America and was voted Yachtsman of the Year by San Francisco Yacht Club, where he had been a member for almost 30 years.
In San Anselmo, Jerry and Suzy’s home for 27 years, Jerry joined the Board of Ross Valley Ecumenical Housing Association and soon became its president, pouring his heart, time and energy into the building of a second house to provide room, board and community to 11 more low income seniors. He was as proud as a new father of Tam House II, when it opened debt-free.
In 2010, Jerry and Suzy moved to Sebastopol to be closer to their newly adopted pre-teen grandchildren. Jerry’s last years were filled with extensive involvement with all his family, its Oregon based business, his new community, his old buddies, the CCA and evenings with his Suzy, in the house they built, watching the sun color the sky over the vineyard. He was grateful for his many blessings, and for being able to share with those less fortunate and those dedicated to making a better world.
Jerry, our father, grandfather, and beloved husband passed away peacefully at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa, surrounded by his immediate family. Jerry was always very grateful, as is all his family, to the many Kaiser doctors and nurses, from San Francisco to Santa Rosa, whose care over 60 years enabled him to live long and well.
We all miss his contagious smile and twinkling blue eyes, his gentle nature and kindness, his dedication to doing what was right and his loving support for family and friends. And no gathering of those who love him will ever be the same without his recitation – more emotional with the passing of time - of T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Our sweet, inimitable Jerry will be forever loved, fondly remembered and sorely missed.