Randy reading this poem at Karl’s Celebration of LIfe on December 2, 2018.

Randy reading this poem at Karl’s Celebration of LIfe on December 2, 2018.


This tribute is in memory of an especially good friend
Whose life's dedication to energy, environment, friends, football and family we're here to commend
And to toast, to remember, to laugh and to celebrate
And whose presence, and now absence, we gather here to contemplate

Now this was a man who was a self-avowed nerd
(Although if there was a party somewhere, his work could always be deferred)
But he always had this incredible vision
That our communal needs for this earth would overcome our divisions

And to that purpose he devoted much of his career
Along with driving electric cars and brewing his own beer
Always leading by example and doing what he said
While pursuing his passions of sports, diving, fishing, whiskey and the Grateful Dead

So in reflecting on how to appropriately honor this man
We need to come up with a reasonable plan
To convey the breadth of his interests, his impact, his influence and his insights
And to recollect some of his amazing life's many highlights

Now Karl was known by a wide variety of names
Some of which he was proud, and some of which he may have been ashamed
But the moniker deemed most likely to imbue
Is the purest and  the most elegant:  simply "K2"

Yes, this basic combination of a letter and numeral
Opens insights into him that are nearly exponential
So let's consider a few of the personal revelations
That can be discerned from the letter, the number and some combinations

And I may take here some poetic license to play
With words I will claim start with the letter K
Which can be perfectly silent at times, you see
Or can become harsh and sound like the letter C 

The first K would be for Knowledge, because that was his lifelong pursuit
He loved math, science, politics, art, bluegrass and the Dead to boot
And the number 2 here also agrees
With the number of his post-graduate degrees

And then there is Knerd, which is a name that he earned
Back in his college days when the midnight oil burned
And Karl would crank out problem sets under the influence
While living in a fraternity sometimes known for its imprudence

But not everything about Karl is education-related
He's been called
Krazy and somewhat opinionated
But it's roots are his passions for things interesting and fun
Like weird cars, Kentucky Whiskey, and unusually bad puns

And everyone who knew Karl would say he was Kreative
Why, his best ideas could emerge while he was completely sedated
But we appreciate the genius underlying his thoughts
Especially when expressed over cold ones at Zots

And of course he was Kommitted to alternative energy solutions
To reduce our environmental impact and human-caused pollutions
He truly walked the talk of an alternative energy czar
Recycling everything and driving only electric or hybrid cars

At times, the peculiar Kwirks of Karl's personality could be seen
Like when he dressed his youngest child as a laundry basket for Halloween
Or when you noticed that the Knapp's largest home furnishing to be seen
Was a fully restored vintage pinball machine

For sure a large credit goes to his home state of Kentucky
For creating a person who was simultaneously both humorous and plucky
In both health and illness he showed a quiet determination
Mixed with a wry wit and grace that was a true inspiration

And we can't forget that Katalina was one of his favorite destinations
Where he could combine hiking, reading, diving, and unlimited libations
Taking a summer break from his expanding obligations to teach
To just chill with family and friends, and maybe burn a fat one on the beach

It's no secret that this was a place where many a brain cell was killed
But the warmth, the sea, the family and friends would always leave his spirit fulfilled
So when things finally got too difficult to travel there on his own
In true Knapp style he sent his proxy, a
Kardboard Karl Klone

But it was the ease with which Karl could make an intimate Konnection
With folks from all walks, who would then join his collection
Of amazing friends and colleagues, many who've gathered here today
Just look around you - a human testimony to a life well lived, I must say

So now let's move on from K to the importance of the number 2
It's greater than 1, but less than a few
Which turns out to be just the perfect size
When describing key parts of Karl's life that applies

Aside from having 2 post-grad degrees to unfurl
He was blessed with 2 of the most beautiful girls
Who allowed him the pleasure of experiencing everything double
Whether it was sugar and spice, or just twice the drama and trouble

And not only did he have 2 initials the same
But his wife Holly did too (at least before she changed her name)
And he shared not only duplicate initials with his wife
But a deep love for one another, and a mutual zest for life

And the double-initial thing resonated particularly true
When Stanford christened their new Energy/Environment building "Y2E2"
And within whose confines resides the (Karl Knapp) K2 Conference Room
A retreat where future
Knerds' curiosities may incubate and bloom

But finally, K2 has an amazing and important precedent
As the name of a Himalayan peak most magnificent
Which inspires passion, creativity, challenge, humility and awe
An ideal combination from which both friends and students can draw

And while it's ranked #2 in height, it's known as the world's toughest climb
Which truly represents the perfect paradigm
For those who follow Karl with their own aspirations to achieve
Success depends not on how high you reach, but how deeply you believe

So you can see how this list of K's and 2's can go on
So I'll stop now so we can move this celebration along
Because Karl would have by now asked me politely to shut up
And to refill his beer in a big red Stanford cup

Because Karl was a most reliable Stanford Fooball tailgate leader
And he'd pump up the crowd each game by screaming at the opponents:
But these are just a few of the special K2 memories that are burned
Into my being, and between us there are so many others to be learned

So today is a time to honor, to connect, to hug, and to recall
The many good times, the laughs, and the love he brought to us all
So let’s share with each other all the funny and inspiring parts
Of our lives with Karl, who will forever stay in our minds and our hearts

And let's all raise a toast to "K2" - he lifted the spirits of so many in his life
And to his lasting legacy:  his girls, friends, family, students, colleagues, conference room - and especially his most incredible wife
And to the many future
Knapps and Knerds whose lives will be impacted
By the man who single-handedly made
Knerdiness attractive 

We love you man! 

In celebration of an amazing life
Karl Knapp
1959 - 2018