Obituary: Stewart Kniff

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DCA past president Stewart Kniff, 84, was called to his heavenly home on July 20, 2015. He grew up on a peach farm where he first learned the art of business by selling rides on his pony. Educated in a one-room schoolhouse, he graduated from Union High School in 1948. Kniff began his career when he joined the Navy in 1948. He spent a year on an aircraft carrier and also served during the Korean War. Upon his return, he was stationed in Atlantic City. When he returned to Grand Rapids, he attended Davenport College and successfully completed the Dale Carnegie Course. He was the owner and operator of Sub-Surface Construction Co. in Grand Rapids, MI, where he served clients throughout the U.S. having over 900 employees at one time. He sold the company in 1997. He also owned and operated Utility Contracting Co. in Sparta, MI, that continues to provide services throughout the state of Michigan. Before owning his own businesses, he worked as a laborer, a welder’s helper, a mainline operator and a foreman. He built gas distribution systems in over 40 communities throughout the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. Kniff was president of the Distribution Contractors Association in 1974, and of the Michigan Distribution Contractors Association (MDCA) 1997 & 1998. Being an active member of MDCA offered him the privilege to serve multiple times on the negotiation committee where he successfully participated in completing many agreements with the trade unions that he partnered with, in order to secure talented employees. Kniff will be deeply missed by many and his wife of 64 years, Lenore. He was preceded in death by his sons Kevin Lee Kniff (1995) and Brian Douglas Kniff (2012). Surviving are his wife Lenore Kniff, whom he married in 1950; daughter Lynn Kniff Littin (Tom Littin); daughter-in-law Barbara McCulla (Greg McCulla); grandchildren: Jason Olree, Christopher Olree (Erica Olree), Stephanie Kniff Pringle (Luke Pringle), Katie Kniff Walsh (Dusten Walsh), Kari Cushman (Ryan Cushman), Amy Potgetter (Jake Potgetter), Mitchell Kniff and Jennifer Kniff; 10 great grandchildren: Kaiya Pringle, Saige Pringle, Lyvia Pringle, Haven Olree, McKinlee Olree, Moxin Potgetter, Ben Potgetter, Gwen Walsh, Maxwell Walsh and Londyn Cushman; brother Russ Kniff (Angie Kniff); sister-in-law Norma Peterson; brother-in-law James Van Ess (Marilyn Van Ess), and brother- in-law Edward Kape.