11/19/46 - 7/28/2015

After a sudden and unexpected illness, Tom is in heaven with Jesus. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends.

Tom was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. At age 15 he discovered music and shortly thereafter his first 12 string guitar, which became his passion. While attending Mankato State University he started performing in the Iron Butterfly Coffee House (where he met his wife, Linda), playing mostly rhythm and blues. Great fun and great friends! Music continued to be an important part of his life through the years.

He began working for the California State Parks at Big Basin in Boulder Creek as a heavy equipment operator in 1979. After doing a short stint at the California Conservation Corps as C2 out of Weott, CA, he transferred back to Parks. He worked out of Humboldt Redwoods State Park as a heavy equipment operator, living in Fortuna for 34 years. He loved the outdoors. He worked in wild, beautiful, pristine wilderness along with bears, mountain lions, wild boar and other dangerous creatures including pot growers. He had a bullet hole in the crease of his jacket from one such encounter. As part of his job he climbed and falled hazardous old growth redwoods using climbing ropes and spurs. With a big grin on his face, he stated nothing compared to the wild ride he took swaying in the wind at the very top of a huge redwood tree. He had the ability to drop the trees with precision accuracy. There wasn’t a piece of equipment he couldn’t learn to operate or a job he couldn’t do. He retired after 25 years of service. He was truly a public servant.

His greatest joy was praising the Lord with his guitar and voice. Through the years he played on the worship teams at church. He had life experiences to share and stories to tell and was always willing to lend a hand. He hunted, fished, shot pistols and loved talking world events. He was an intelligent man of insight, integrity , talent and love of people. No one was ever a stranger. He loved his San Jose Sharks team and rarely missed watching a game. He also loved his dog Bentley and spent many hours getting acquainted with neighborhood families and dogs. Because he always had a pocketful of treats, all the dogs drooled when they saw him coming. He especially enjoyed visiting with his three precious little grandsons and on his last visit in mid June he played his 12 string guitar and sang for them. They laughed and danced! It was a blessed moment in time that touched hearts.

Tom leaves behind his loving wife Linda of 47 years, son Tyler (Audrey), daughter Stacey Reynolds (Jeff), three grandchildren — Chase, age 3, Bryson, age 2 and Ledger, age 10 months — sister Sally Beck (Dave) and father Hank age 93. His mother Eleanor lived to age 90.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, August 29th, at Wood Street Chapel, 1649 Wood Street, Fortuna. Potluck will follow.


The obituary above was submitted by Knauff’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email news@lostcoastoutpost.com.