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Life Story / Obituary
Quick with a smile and with a heart of gold, Wes Knapp added much to the lives around him. He had a great sense of humor, and with his outgoing nature, Wes could strike up a conversation with anyone and make an instant friend. Although he had many interests through the years, foremost in Wes’ life was his love for those he held most dear. With numerous memories of times shared, Wes will be forever remembered.
The decade of the 1960s ushered in an entirely new way of thinking within the culture of America. The Vietnam War was at the forefront, and young people were learning how to make their voices heard. Many found reprieve in the form of drive-in theaters, music of the day, and beloved television shows. It was during these changing times when Ralph & Mary (Hockett) Knapp welcomed the birth of their son, Wesley, born on November 10, 1962 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The younger of two children in the Knapp household, Wes joined his older sister, Susan. His father worked as a truck driver while his mother provided one-on-one care to people in their homes. Within their close-knit community, growing up in rural Cooper Township gave a young boy like Wes a sense of adventure. He loved animals and always had an array of pets growing up. As a kid he loved BMX biking and having raced the dirt bikes, he came to collect quite a few trophies to his credit. During his youth he painted cars with his father in the garage and everything he knew about cars he learned from his dad.
Wes attended Plainwell Public Schools where he enjoyed several close friendships. At the age of 16 he left everything behind and moved to Virginia where he worked hard running cable lines. Being out on his own taught Wes much and he learned a great deal during this time in his life. Wes returned home to Michigan after a year and began running trucks at Gilson’s Mud Run. His best friend, Jeff Gipson raced with him and they named their truck “School boy” which they put a lot of hard work into. These times in Wes’ life were often recalled by him as some of his most fun times.
Kelli Trine was introduced to Wes through a mutual friend at his home. From the moment he met Kelli, Wes knew he was going to marry her. For a while, however, it wasn’t quite that easy. Wes was relentless in asking Kelli out and she must have turned him down ten times if not more before she finally told him “yes” to a date. The two began a dating relationship and on June 21, 1986 the couple was happily married. The newlyweds began their life together in Cooper before moving to nearby Galesburg. Before long they welcomed the birth of their little girl, Heather into their hearts and home. Wes loved being a dad and treated “his girls” to the best love he could give. Through the years Heather and Wes' bond deepened. They were best friends and Heather was just like her dad. He didn't call her Heather, he called her "boog". He enjoyed visiting the Gilmore Car Museum often and with many family members. As a family, they spent memorable times making numerous memories during the holidays and other special occasions. Wes especially loved going to the zoo and made sure they went every summer. With the sidecar on his Harley, they were able to take several family trips.
Even though Wes was never one for traveling and preferred being a homebody, he did love going on the Sturgis toy run every year on his Harley with his entire sidecar filled to the brim with toys to donate. Wes liked motorcycles and antiques. He did some furniture refinishing, and he was good at it, too. Buying and selling at flea markets was one of Wes’ favorite pastimes. With his social nature, he loved the flea markets where he enjoyed talking to everyone. An outgoing man, Wes counted many he had met along life’s way as a friend.
In his free time, Wes loved to hunt. He enjoyed building models, and he liked watching NASCAR racing. He spent a lot of time in his garage where he build motorcycles, minibikes and anything with a small engine. He preferred the sounds of classic rock and country, but when it came to food, Wes was a chocolate kind of guy. From chocolate milk to chocolate chip cookies, a good cheeseburger came in a close second! Wes’ domestic side taught his daughter how to cook and sew, and he loved to garden. He even built a greenhouse and took great care when it came to everything he grew. Although Wes most recently worked at Boylan's Golf Cart, special times were shared with his daughter when she was able to go to work with him everyday when he owned and operated Wes’ Hauling.
Wes Knapp would have given the shirt off his back for a friend in need. Giving and ever helpful, he was always willing to lend a helping hand. For Wes, everyday joy was found in the lives of those he called family and friend. Home was truly at the heart of Wes. For these things and so much more, he will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.
Wes Knapp, age 55, of Cooper, passed away at his home surrounded by family and friends on July 8, 2018. Wes’ family includes his wife of 32 years, Kelli; his daughter Heather and her husband whom Wes considered a son, DJ Stine; his siblings: Susan Knapp and Natasha Deyoung and his faithful dog Fred along with three “granddogs”. He was preceded in death by his dad Merle Hitchcock; his grandparents and his uncle Kenneth Knapp Sr. Please visit Wes’ memory page at www.mccowensecord.com where you can archive a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. Visit with his family and friends and view his life story film on Thursday, July 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Marshall & Gren Chapel of the McCowen & Secord Funeral Home; 120 S. Woodhams St. in Plainwell. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 at the same location. Memorial donations can be made to the American Lung Association.