Herbert Knust Passes Away

26 Aug

Herbert Knust, Blue Lake summer resident and friend to many around the lake, has passed away.

As printed in The News-Gazette:

Herbert Knust

URBANA – Herbert Knust, 77, of Urbana and Bavaria, Germany, passed away at 11:11 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 22, 2012) in the Renewal Therapy Center of Clark-Lindsey Village. Family was by his side.

Mr. Knust was born May 9, 1935, in Cologne, Germany, the son of Wilhelm and Paula Knust. In 1939, the family relocated to a small village in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps.

In 1963, he married Christa Hildegard Erika Groebke of Berlin, Germany; she survives, along with their three children and their families: Stefan Knust of New York, N.Y., Sabine Morgan of Bozeman, Mont., and Sylvia Knust of La Mesa, Calif.

Also surviving are his siblings and their families: Dieter Knust of Brisbane, Australia, Erich Knust of Brisbane, Australia, and Dagmar Schneidberger of Bavaria, Germany.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Inge Lewis.

He studied English, German and history at the University of Munich and the Free University of Berlin. In 1956, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to attend Tulane University in New Orleans, where he received his M.A. in English and American history in 1958.

He then attended Pennsylvania State University, where he earned his Ph.D. in comparative literature in 1961 and became an assistant professor of German and of comparative literature in 1963.

In 1965, Mr. Knust moved with his family to Urbana-Champaign, where he began an illustrious and dynamic career at the University of Illinois, first as assistant professor and then professor of German and of comparative literature, as well as director of the Program in Comparative Literature, and head of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature.

He helped develop and direct the Illinois-Austria Exchange Program in Baden/Vienna, Austria. He initiated the Visiting Professor Exchange Program with Georg-August Universitat in Gottingen, Germany. He retired from the UI in 1997.

Mr. Knust published numerous chapters, books and articles, and presented many lectures and seminars on a wide range of German and comparative literature topics. He received a number of fellowships, including two from the Newberry Library in Chicago, and one from the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, R.I.; he was awarded Distinguished Visitor of the Year at Pennsylvania State University and the Arnold O. Beckmann Award at the UI.

He served on several advisory boards, including Comparative Literature Studies, Germano-Slavica, the German-American Art Foundation and the National Advisory Council, Junior Year in Germany.

He traveled extensively with his wife, both in Europe and in the U.S., but he treasured much of what Urbana offered, in particular the Krannert Center, Japan House, Meadowbrook, Allerton Park and the wonderful neighborhood where he lived.

The times he spent at his summer cottage along the shores of Blue Lake in northern Wisconsin were among his favorite. He was an avid builder who also enjoyed sailing, sudoku and reading mysteries; he loved to cook soups and festive fruit and beat everyone in Machiavelli. He was very loved. He will be very missed.

There will be a private service held later in the year. In lieu of gifts, please consider making a donation to the Anita Purves Nature Center through the Urbana Park District. (Please make the check out to Urbana Park District and note whom the donation is in memory of; send to the attention of Ellen Kirsanoff, 303 W. University Ave., Urbana IL 61801.)

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I had the privilege of knowing Herbert because he was a long-time friend of my dad’s family.  They met at Pennsylvania State University where Herbert was accomplishing the feats of earning a Ph.D. and being a German tutor to my dad and his siblings.  Herbert and his family were the first people that enabled me to see how friends could become family.  I have many fond memories of visiting the Knust family at their cottage just down the shores on Blue Lake when Herbert would host amazing pancake breakfasts.  He had a huge cast iron frying pan about the size of Texas that he would fill up with plum pancake batter.  He always kept a smile on his face when he stacked our plates with pancakes, even though our table manners probably skewed to the rambunctious side.  On windy days, we would often look out on Blue Lake and see Herbert sailing by on his sailboat.  A true friend, he frequently visited my grandparents on their porch, which always made their day.  Herbert is truly missed.


4 Responses to “Herbert Knust Passes Away”

  1. Dick Johnson August 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm #


  2. Bob Bergland August 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    Herbert was my next door neighbor for 32 years. You couldn’t have imagined a better neighbor or friend than Herbert. He loved Blue Lake and our “Islanders” and will be missed. Let his spirit live on in all of us. Bob Bergland

  3. Sylvia Knust September 23, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Thank you for your kind words. I miss him dearly, but am grateful that we can celebrate another summer at the lake in his memory. I plan to bring my mom up to the cabin late June to open the cabin and let his Schwangau flag fly once more!

    • michael lakin December 1, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      Only today, because my daughter is applying to Boston U. and I saw that there is a ‘Knust’ on the faculty, did I find out that Herbert had died. I am truly sorry. Herbert was my German professor for several courses at Penn State, and my mentor in many ways. We kept in touch only occasionally after he went to Illinois. Herbert was one of the finest persons I have ever met, an intelligent, reliable, decent man who was warm and had a fine sense of humor. I have thought of him fondly many times over the years. Even this long after his death, my condolences to his family.

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