John Baptist Knoepfler

Knoepfler, head of German Department, dies at his home Friday evening; served in college for 26 years

John Baptist Knoepfler was born in Newkirch, Wurtemberg, Germany, February 13, 1852. He came to America with his father in 1854 and grew to manhood in Oakland, Michigan, where his father settled on a farm. Acquiring sufficient education by the time he was nineteen to teach school, he used his earnings to pursue studies in institutons of higher learning.

He removed to Iowa in 1876 where he became principal of public schools in Fayette County. In 1882 he was chosen superintendent of public schools in West Union, serving seven years before he removed to Lansing, where he became superintendent of schools in that city. In 1900 he was elected professor of German in the Iowa State Normal School in Cedar Falls. He did a large amount of institute work in the counties of northern Iowa. In 1891 he was nominated by the Democratic State Convention for Superintendent of Public Instruction, and elected, being the first Democrat to hold that office since 1863. He was defeated with his party in 1893 and returned to his former position in Lansing.

His death occurred at Cedar Falls at 7:15 PM, October 1, 1926, due to an attack of angina pectoris. He had been in the basement of his home after supper, and, when he reached the top of the stairs, he was prostrated on the floor and died instantly. He had been having some decline in health during the past year and was well advised by his physicians as to his condition. He was in school and in charge of his work that last day and even attended the assembly at 10 o'clock and occupied his usual place on the platform. His work during the twenty-six years was that of head of the Department of German. He organized the first class in French and also conducted that work with two assistants for some years. He was for a long period Chairman of the Musical Festival Committee of the faculty and was a marked success as an administrator of that very important service, so conducting the same as to have surplus funds almost every year. The surplus has been exceptional for such large musical undertakings.

He was a member and also an officer for years in the Congregational Church in Cedar Falls and was a consistent and reliable Christian and man in the community. His family are his wife, Mrs. Emma Gundry Knoepfler; his daughter, Mrs. Katherine Knoepfler Lerche, a jewelry merchant in Ft. Madison, Iowa; his son, Karl J. Knoepfler, attorney at law in Sioux City, Iowa, and family, consisting of his wife, Corinne Bonfoy Record Knoepfler, and their two sons.

The funeral was held at the home of the deceased at two o'clock on Monday afternoon. All collegiate activity was suspended. A large number of students and faculty members were present at the services. The sermon was preached by the Reverend Barsalou of the First Congregational Church of Cedar Falls. The body was buried in the Fairview Cemetery, Cedar Falls.

Adapted from an article in the College Eye, October 6, 1926, page 1.


Rod Library Special Collections and University Archives
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613-3675
Telephone: (319)-273-6307
Fax: (319)-273-2913
Email: Gerald.Peterson@uni.edu