Thomas C. Knarr, 80, of Big Canoe, Georgia, died January 19, 2019, with his wife Kay Dell and sister Romaine by his side after declining health complicated by diabetes. Preceded in death by his mother, Laura Muriel Latourrette, his father, Harold Clayton Knarr, and his brother Richard J. Knarr. He is survived by his wife Kay Dell Franklin Knarr, his step-children, Joseph Johnson (Debbie), Kristin Harrison (Andy), and grandchildren, Davis, Story Elizabeth, and Jack Johnson, and Drew and Trent Harrison, his sister Romaine Dowty, nieces and nephews, Sharon Anderson (Doug), Karen Stevens (Mike), Kenlyn Dowty, Michelle Menke, Richard, and Matthew Knarr, and a favorite cousin Julia Ann Knarr as well as great nieces, nephews. A private family memorial service was held at the Knarr home at Tom’s request and conducted by Reverend Lamar Helms of Big Canoe Chapel.
Born February 1938, in Royal Center, Indiana, Tom and his family soon moved to Winamac, Indiana, where he grew up and lived until he graduated from Winamac High School in 1957. After high school he joined the Army and completed basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was sent on to Schweinfurt, Germany where among other duties he was a member of the Army skydiving team and participated in war games during the winters in the Bavarian Alps. Tom was proud of his military service. Following the Army and during the Cold War he worked at a Nike Missile Site near Chicago, Illinois and began classes at Joliet Junior College. He completed his Bachelor of Science Degree at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, his Master’s Degree at Indiana University in Bloomington, and back to Indiana State for his Ph.D. Later in his career he was an adjunct instructor at both Indiana State and Purdue Universities and served on a nationwide university speaker’s forum. After teaching both economics and history at the high school level, he transitioned to school administration in Indiana. He served as business manager of the Hobart Township Schools, as Superintendent of Baugo and Warrick County Schools, and completed his career as Assistant Superintendent in the Hammond School System.
With a strong belief in giving back to his community, Tom developed several initiatives in support of family and youth education. He served as President of Northwest Family Services, as well as Hammond Kiwanis, was a member of both the Board of Directors of the Northern Indiana Arts Association (South Shore Arts), and Hoosier Boys’ Town. He also served on the Mayor’s Commission for Students with Disabilities, and the Mayor’s Bicentennial Commission. Tom organized several of the annual Hammond 4th of July Parades. He helped to create the Hammond Triad, a strong partnership between the civil city, the Hammond Chamber of Commerce, and the School City of Hammond in support of the, “It takes a village” concept, developed in collaboration with the national Partners in Education initiative.
In addition to his focus on community, Tom enjoyed his 1928 Model A Ford Roadster and drive-outs and tours with the Highland Indiana Region, Model A Club. As a child Tom looked forward to searching for Indian relics with his father and later became President of The Northwest Indiana Archaeological Society and a member of the Central States Archaeological Society. As a serious student of archaeology, Tom often lectured and shared his extensive collection of Indian relics and Indiana artifacts.
After retiring in 2000, Tom and KayDell moved to Big Canoe, Georgia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2002. Retirement gave him time to pursue his many interests. He especially enjoyed driving the scenic backroads in his antique trucks, gardening at his mountain home, and spending time with his grandchildren. As a true Hoosier at heart, Tom loved watching sports especially college basketball. Larry Bird was his all-time favorite! He was a life-long learner, loved all facets of history especially military, and was a voracious reader. Tom will be missed.
Expressions of sympathy may be sent to one of the following or a charity of your choice: Big Canoe Chapel, 226 Wolfscratch Circle, Jasper, GA 30143; North Georgia Veterans, 10923 Big Canoe, Jasper, GA 30143, Attention Treasurer; Hospice of the Calumet Area, 600 Superior Drive, Munster, IN 46321.
Ingram Funeral Home & Crematory, 210 Ingram Ave, Cumming, GA 30040 is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be made at www.ingramfuneralhome.com.
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