A local youth sports volunteer legend is getting a send-off befitting his passion for sports.
Don Knapp, a longtime supporter of youth athletics who tallied more than three decades volunteering with Sequim sports organizations, passed away on Nov. 24.
Family and friends are taking some time to celebrate his efforts with a special day at Sequim Little League’s James Standard Park. At 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 11, the community is invited to enjoy a number of special presentations and music as they recognize Knapp’s contributions.
“He just loved sports in general (and) he loved working with kids,” brother Bud Knapp said this week.
“(It was about) passing it forward. You’d see all these young kids they were little, then they’d grow up and have their own kids out there, generation after generation. Don would still be there.”
Knapp’s son Tony said there are a number of groups from the American Legion to the Patriot Guard riders and others to be on hand on Sunday, along with “Taps,” the National Anthem, bagpipes and more. A motorized cart will be available to help people get from the parking lot to the presentation area.
All donations and funds raised from the event will go back to Sequim Little League for everything from registration to gloves and cleats or team pictures, league officials said.
Donald was born to Georgie Irma (Meyer) Knapp and Allison Anthony Knapp in December 1940. He played both football and baseball, his brother recalled, and graduated from Sequim High School in 1960.
Knapp went on to serve in the U.S. Navy until 1964 when he was honorably discharged.
Bud Knapp said it was around 1972, when he got out of the service that Don moved back to the area and started getting involved with youth sports. It was the start of a 30-year-plus coaching career, when he wasn’t working on the family farm or at his paving job, Bud recalled.
Don coached football for a few years but his passion was for baseball. He and several others wound up being a driving force behind the building of the fields now known as James Standard Park off West Silberhorn Road.
“I’d say he behind the scenes he was one of the main pushers on that (project), getting things set up and laid out” Bud Knapp said.
And when the field were built, he kept coaching and helped maintain the now 10.5-acre park and fields — one of which bears his name — year after year, from the early 1970s to the early 2000s.
“Our folks taught us you give back to the community; that was his way,” Bud Knapp said.
Don was presented with Sequim Dungeness Chamber of Commerce’s 2001 Citizen of the Year for his volunteerism.
As years passed, Knapp kept coming back to help with the fields. This is when he wasn’t working on the family property.
“When we wanted to him, that’s where you would usually find Don; it just became his baby,” Bud Knapp said. “A lot of memory lot of sweat on that 40 acres.”
Shawna Rigg, a former Sequim Little League vice president, said she relied on Knapp as a key source of information and elbow grease.
“Anything I ever needed when we were involved there or he would step up immediately,” Rigg said.
“I was like, ‘Don, you’re done!’ He was my go-to (person). whether it was something with concessions a toilet needed fixing a light bulb. A sweet and gentle man.”
Part of what drew him back, Rigg said, was getting to see the generations of Sequim families together doing something he himself enjoyed.
“It was near and dear to his heart,” she said.
Bud Knapp, who is 10 years Don’s junior (and himself Sequim’s Citizen of the Year in 1992), said he appreciated being able to spend time with his brother, chatting about sports or family or anything that came to mind as they drove to a baseball game.
“It didn’t matter what we were talking about,” Bud said.
Knapp eventually retired from volunteering, Bud recalled.
“He finally come to realization he wanted to do some things, do some traveling; it was time for somebody to else to step up and start taking care of it,” Bud Knapp said.
“He was just an all around guy who cared about his hometown.”
Don Knapp was preceded in death his parents and brother Robert Knapp. He is survived by son, Anthony (Jenna) Knapp and daughters, Brenda (Pat) Bistline and Tonya (Larry) Merchant; brother, Delbert “Bud” (Shelly) Knapp; sisters, Janet Emerson, Joann Knapp and Eileen Martin; grandchildren, Chrystal, Trish, Amanda, Christopher, Candace, Angela and Casey; and great-grandchildren, Myikah, Tyler, Arieya, Ayla, Chloe, Brooke, William, Oakley, Orion, Oliver and Ethan; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.