William Joseph “Bill” Knox of Joseph, age 56, died unexpectedly in La Grande on Wednesday, April 25. Bill was born in Springfield, IL, one of five children of Rita and Robert Knox. He grew up in Keokuk, IA, attending local schools and graduated in 1974. He attended Southeastern Community College before transferring to Iowa State University and in 1978 completed a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Resources and a Masters of Science Degree in Fisheries from the University of Idaho in 1982. Bill married his High School sweetheart Diane Johnson on November 28, 1980. She was the true love of his life.
Bill lived a busy life: fishing, hunting, cutting firewood or working. He held many jobs beginning as a Des Moines Register newspaper boy in Keokuk; quality assurance lab technician at a local wet-corn milling plant and working summer conservation jobs with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Bill found his vocation during graduate school as a research assistant studying fish populations on the Little Goose Reservoir on the Snake River in southeast Washington. In 1982, he joined Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife working in the Umatilla and John Day basins. Preferring Oregon’s drier side, Bill became the Assistant District Fish Biologist in Enterprise in January 1986. An active member of the American Fisheries Society, he received an Award of Merit from the American Fisheries Society in 1999 for his work in northeastern Oregon on threatened spring Chinook salmon. Recently, Bill successfully secured grant funding to purchase hydroacoustic sampling equipment for use in developing the first accurate estimates of Kokanee populations in Wallowa Lake. After retiring from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife this February, Bill began a second career as a biological consultant with Anderson-Perry & Associates in La Grande. As a true scientist who often challenged conventional wisdom, Bill was respected for his critical thinking and forthright opinions.
An avid outdoorsman blessed to work at what he loved, Bill knew all the best fishing spots. When not fishing, he was either hunting, watching the St. Louis Cardinals, or hanging out at local music venues. An accomplished musician, guitar player and baritone, Bill was a founding member of the local band “Yellah Dog”.
Bill is survived by Diane, his wife of over 30 years; his mother Rita Knox of Keokuk, Iowa; siblings Robert Knox, Brenda Knox, Laura Knox and Mary Knox; parents-in-law Lorraine and Richard Johnson of Keokuk, Iowa; sisters-in-law Debra (David) Zimmerman, Denise (Kirk) Haack, brother-in-law David Johnson and many nieces and nephews. Bill is mourned by a wide circle of friends stretching across the country. He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Knox and his two faithful Labrador retrievers Bella and Hank.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Memorial donations may be sent to Sterling Bank c/o Diane Knox account #1009, 205 West Main Street, Enterprise, Oregon 97828.
“Here he lies where he longed to be, Home is the sailor, home from seas, And the hunter home from the hill.”
From the 1879 poem, “Requiem” by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Let’s go fishing!