Wilmer C. “Popeye” Knewitz, age 89, of Okawville, formerly of O’Fallon, born September 15, 1929 in Belleville, Ill., passed away Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at Memorial East Hospital, Shiloh, Illinois, after a brief illness.
Wilmer was an Air Force veteran of the Korean conflict. He worked at Scott AFB as a supply clerk from 1961-1991. In 1974, he began driving a bus part-time for O’Fallon Township High School and this quickly became his passion. He became a full-time driver after retiring from Scott AFB, and for 33 years, Wilmer faithfully drove teams, clubs, and classes across the state in his yellow school bus which endearingly became referred to as “Wilmer’s Taxi.” He often said he had too many grandchildren to count, as the students referred to him as “Grandpa.”
Wilmer was a charter member and past president of the O’Fallon Booster Club; member and past president of the O’Fallon Band Boosters, member and past president of the O’Fallon Jaycees, and the Lincoln Trail Riders Club. He was on the O’Fallon District 90 school board for 18 years, serving as president for six years.
Wilmer was a longtime follower and supporter of bluegrass music, specifically George Portz & the Friends of Bluegrass and the Howlin Brothers band. He “bled blue and gold,” as he loved his O’Fallon roots and supported OTHS athletics and band. He began every Monday morning at Wood Bakery, then spent the day at the local firehouse playing cards with his buddies.
He was preceded in death by his parents Wilmer J. and Edna, nee Campbell, Hildebrand Knewitz; his former wife Gloria Goehner Knewitz; brother-in-law Joe Goeser and many cousins.
He is survived by his wife Barbara, nee Swengross, Knewitz, whom he married November 23, 1991; his daughters Barbara (Michael) Cioffi of Castleton, Virg., Cynthia (Patrick) Hoffman of Bakersfield, Calif., and Deborah Brown of Johns Island, S.C.; step-daughter Michelle Mangrum of Cuba, Mo., grandchildren Kayla and Sean Brown, and Tyler (fiancé Evelyn) White; step-grandchildren Brandyn, Cameron, Clayton, Damen, and Hayden Mangrum; great-granddaughters Harper White and Layla Mangrum; his sister Colleen Goeser of Sugarland, Tex., cousin Joyce Lurtz of O’Fallon, and many dear friends.
In lieu of flowers or other gifts, memorial donations are suggested to either O’Fallon Band Boosters, or O’Fallon Fire Department. Online condolences may be posted at www.wfh-ofallon.com
Visitation: The family will receive friends 4 – 8 p.m., Sunday, January 6, 2019 at Wolfersberger Funeral Home, 102 W. Washington St., O’Fallon.
Funeral: 11 a.m., Monday, January 7, 2019 at O’Fallon First United Methodist Church, 504 E. Highway 50, O’Fallon. Burial to follow at O’Fallon City Cemetery, O’Fallon, Illinois.
Wolfersberger Funeral Home, O’Fallon