Owen A. Knopping, 75


Owen A. Knopping had a good word to say about everyone, according to those who knew him.

Owen A. Knopping had a good word to say about everyone, according to those who knew him.
Knopping, from Bryn Mawr, passed away at the age of 75 from pancreatic cancer on Oct. 20.
Born on Jan. 1, 1940 in the Bronx, growing up across the street from Yankee Stadium, Knopping and his family moved to Mount Vernon, N.Y., where he graduated from Mount Vernon High School.
He studied accounting and law at the College of William & Mary, graduating in 1961 and later receiving his law degree in 1964.
After law school and taking the Virginia bar, he enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1964 as a captain and lawyer in the judge advocate general’s office in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and he was stationed there for three years. This was also where he met his wife of 50 years, Margaret. 
In 1967, he worked for the Internal Revenue Service in Newark, N.J. and then joined Fox Rothschild in Philadelphia. Mark Silow first met Knopping in 1980, after Silow got a job at Fox Rothschild. 
Knopping was one of the tax partners who hired him, he recalled.
“He was a really sweet guy,” said Silow, now managing partner of the firm. “He was a very knowledgeable tax lawyer. He was someone who never really lived on ceremony. He made people — both his clients and adversaries — feel like they were treated fairly and respectfully.”
He had a warm heart and a generous spirit, Silow added, which made him easy to be around.
“He was — I hate the term, it’s a total cliché — a people person,” he said. “He had a good word to say about everyone. He was a sort of classic good guy.”
Knopping’s charitable work was extensive, starting in the early 1970s as president of the Ardwood Civic Association and St. Mary’s Hospital, where he was influential in the opening of a new hospital in Port Richmond. He was also the president of Jewish Family and Children Agencies, Kaiserman JCC, Martins Run Retirement and Community, and Green Valley Country Club.
He was also on the board of HIAS Philadelphia, Philadelphia JCCs, Main Line Reform Temple, JEVS and the American Red Cross. From 1988 to 1991, Knopping served as chair of the board of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service. 
“He was remarkable,” said Pia Eisenberg, vice president of institutional advancement at JFCS. “He was very kindhearted, goodnatured, always wanting to help. He really cared about the agency.”
Eisenberg first met him when she worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, before she started at JFCS. She recalled how often he emailed and called her to talk about how they can get more donors to the agency.
“He stood out because he always went the extra mile,” Eisenberg said. “He was diligent and wanted to make it happen — he always wanted to make it happen. He was just really the most kindhearted, good natured, dedicated friend to the agency that I’m very fortunate to have known and to have worked with.”
After Knopping’s stint as board chair concluded, he stayed involved with the agency even though he didn’t have to, which stood out to JFCS President and CEO Paula Goldstein. 
“Owen was a chair of our board but he was one of those chairs who after he served as chair continued to remain very involved in the organization — always attending board meetings and always trying to connect us to people who might be interested to giving to the organization and not holding back if he had an opinion about the way the organization was going,” Goldstein said. “He was a very vital presence.”
She added that he stayed in his role as board chair longer than others had, which might have been because “they probably didn’t want to let him go, but that’s just my guess,” she quipped. “It’s such a loss for the JFCS community.”
He was a “rare bird,” she said, adding that he was a unique presence who will be sorely missed.
She met him before her days as CEO and has learned a lot from him since.
“He just had that kind of energy, and what I learned from him was that to always continue speaking about what you think is important and always continue to ask people to join you in your mission, to support your mission,” she said.
The memorial service at Main Line Reform Temple showed how everyone felt about him, said Eisenberg. 
“It was a really beautiful tribute,” she said. “You could see what a prominent loving figure he was. It was a beautiful, well-deserved tribute to an incredible, remarkable man.”
He is survived by his family, including his wife Margaret, his sons Jamie (Hillary), Eric (Kristin) and David (Denise) and his grandchildren Max, Ava, Remy, Hannah and Jay.
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0740


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