Karl E Knapp
April 27, 1959 – October 23, 2018
Karl Knapp died peacefully in his home in Palo Alto, CA after a courageous battle with ALS; his wife, Holly, and his two daughters, Haley and Tyler, were by his side.
Karl was born in Ann Arbor, MI, the son of Marjorie Knapp Floro and the late Dr. Donald Knapp. He grew up in Lexington, KY, where he developed his zest for life, enjoyed creating fun memories with his siblings, and made lasting friendships. He cultivated his love of learning at Sayre School and then moved west to attend Stanford University where he earned three degrees: BS ’81/ MS ’82 in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD ’99 in Engineering Economic Systems and Operations Research.
Karl’s entire professional career focused on making the world a better place through developing renewable energy resources. Working with other nerdy, brilliant and fun people, he honed his craft, earning patents for machinery used to produce solar cells (Arco Solar), providing insight and operating at the nexus of energy, environment and economics (E3), and developing contracts for large-scale wind power resources and local solar energy as well as designing the voluntary PaloAltoGreen program (City of Palo Alto Utilities). While working as the VP of Sustainable Energy Education at MAP, he also shared the gifts of his knowledge with the next generation of “renewable energy warriors” by serving as an adjunct professor at Stanford co-teaching a class titled “Understanding Energy” (formerly “Energy Resources) and taking students on life changing field trips both locally and in China.
Karl had many talents. He could paint dice on the tiny fingernails of Haley and Tyler while contemplating a complex variable math problem set, but his greatest accomplishments were manifest in his deep and abiding love of family and friends. Karl created annual Halloween costumes with Tyler, sewed last minute snaps on Haley’s prom dress, and fixed everything Holly broke. He brewed beer with his daughters, was a spirited sports fan, reveled in humorous puns with his siblings, and hosted the most marvelous tailgates and parties. He loved bluegrass and the Grateful Dead, camping in Big Sur, scuba diving in Fiji, and reading technical journals at the beach in Catalina. He wrote heartfelt notes to those he loved, never judged others, and made decisions using data. Our world today could use more “Karls.”
Karl was a remarkable man who combined wicked intelligence with fun beyond compare. He will be sorely missed.
A celebration of Karl’s life will take place on Sunday, December 2nd, 1-4 pm at the Stanford Arrillaga Alumni Center, McCaw Hall. In keeping with Karl’s life view, it will be tailgate-esque; casual and informal. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the Karl Knapp GoEV program or the Stanford University Karl Knapp Energy Fellow in City Government by clicking on “Donate”.