Stewart Kniff

August 26, 1930 - July 20, 2015
Grand Rapids, MI



Thursday, July 23, 2015
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van't Hof Chapel
851 Leonard St., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-6137
Driving Directions


Friday, July 24, 2015
1:00 PM EDT
Seventh Reformed Church
950 Leonard Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Seventh Reformed Church Education Fund
950 Leonard Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-4451

Mission India
P.O. Box 141312
Grand Rapids, MI 49514-1312
(616) 453-8855

Community Congregation Church
153300 Tamiami Trail N.
Naples, FL 34110
(239) 597-1000

Maranatha Bible and Missionary Conference
4759 Lake Harbor Road
Muskegon, MI 49441


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Born to George and Mary Kniff in Standale, MI, Stewart 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. Stewart 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. Stewart 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.

Stewart 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. Stewart was written about in the book Men of Achievement in the Pipeline Industry. selected as "Man of the year in Michigan" in 1980.

In addition to the pipeline business, Stewart gave generously to countless charitable, arts and civic organizations. He also was a mentor to many who continue to benefit from his endless experience, talent and wisdom.

Stewart was a member of 7th Reformed Church since 1950 and founding member of the Naples Florida Community Congregational Church, where he served as an Elder in 1984. He also served a term as President of Maranatha Bible & Missionary Conference. He was instrumental in erecting many of the buildings that adorn the property today. He contributed countless hours and support to Mission India and Holland Home, where they are building a new facility to treat Alzheimer's patients.

Stewart was a pilot, traveler, fisherman, upland bird hunter, golfer, and tennis player, who enjoyed taking others on his expeditions. His patience looking for the golf ball in the rough, he always completed the game with more balls than when he started. He spent many of his winters in Bonita Springs, FL, and his summers in Muskegon, MI, at Maranatha Bible & Missionary Conference. Those whose lives he touched will never forget him.

Stewart "Nip" Kniff, age 84 (August 26, 1930), was called to his heavenly home on July 20, 2015. A man who recited the 23rd Psalm daily, he 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.

His funeral service will be held on Friday, July 24, 2015 at 1 PM at Seventh Reformed Church, 950 Leonard Street NW. Friends are invited to visit with his family on Thursday from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van't Hof Chapel, 851 Leonard NW. Interment in Greenwood Cemetery.

His family is grateful for the exceptional care provided by the staff at Holland Home Raybrook Center over the last year. Special thanks to grandson Jason Olree for his time and loving patience; Janet Wilson of Hospice; Reverend John DeVries; Pastor Tim Trumper; Charles Smoes for his faithful visits; and dear friends of Stewart and Lenore, Gerald Horton, Madelyne Lawry, Andy Edwards, Andrew Ross and Barbara Sturrus. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the 7th Reformed Church Education Fund, Mission India, Community Congregational Church of Naples Florida, or Maranatha Bible & Missionary Conference. To read more about Stewart's life, to share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com