BUCKHANNON — James Wilson Knorr III, 79, of Buckhannon, W.Va., went home to be with the Lord Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, at St. Joseph’s Hospital Nursing Care Facility in Buckhannon from complications related to chronic post-concussion syndrome.
He was born Aug. 3, 1939, in Great Falls, Mont., and enjoyed returning to visit Montana and Glacier National Park throughout his life. A loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and brother, he was a son of the late Rev. Dr. James Wilson Knorr, Jr. and Ida Mae Bryant Knorr.
On Aug. 3, 1963, he married Judith Ann Munchmeyer who survives.
He is also survived by son, Christopher James Knorr and wife Veronica Ann of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; daughter, Cheryl (Cherri) Knorr Foster and husband Keith of Florence, S.C.; two grandsons, James Joseph Knorr of Reynoldsburg and Nicholas Matthew Foster of Florence; two granddaughters, Meredith McKenzie Foster and Katherine Keely Foster of Florence; one brother, Donald Wesley Knorr of Simpsonville, S.C.; and one sister Barbara Ann Lore and husband Milton of San Antonio, Texas.
Jim graduated from Wareham High School, in Wareham, Mass., and earned his bachelor of arts degree in Music Education from West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, W.Va., in 1963.
The son of a Methodist minister, himself a creative entertainer, Jim learned from an early age the essential qualities of character and faith that would guide his life. Jim was introduced to the art of ventriloquism in San Francisco, Calif., while in junior high, and received Iggy for Christmas that year. This figure constantly opened doors for Jim throughout his life, and seeming to have a mind of his own, Iggy brought much joy to people young and old. In recent years, Jim and Iggy joined together to participate in the Upshur County Read Aloud Program.
Jim lived his faith as a member of First United Methodist Church, Buckhannon, for over 52 years, and provided inspiring and timeless musical worship as the choir director for 30 years. He also served the church in a variety of other capacities, including leading various musical performances.
His distinguished 37-year career in music education with the Upshur County Board of Education began at the Junior High School, becoming a full-time music educator and choir director at Buckhannon-Upshur High School (B-UHS) in 1969. Under his innovative musical leadership, the B-UHS Choir was selected as the State Honor Choir for multiple years. His choral groups performed in many venues, including the West Virginia State Fair and the State Capitol, and competed in regional Choral Festivals. Jim even took the West Virginia Youth Chorale on tour in Europe, providing a rich and broadening cultural experience for students. One of Jim’s main goals was to provide students with opportunities to learn skills they could use the rest of their lives.
Seeking a greater prominence for musical education programs, Jim launched the West Virginia State High School Show Choir Festival, and instituted the B-UHS Alumni Choir, which continues to perform at Christmas. Jim also formed the Heritage Singers, which performed at various civic functions and holidays throughout the year. One of Jim’s greatest talents was encouraging students to realize their full potential, filling them with confidence and pride.
His greatest community impact, however, may have been the many musical theatre “Broadway” productions he directed at B-UHS and in the community. Jim founded the Buckhannon Community Theatre in 1971. He also had major responsibilities in, “Honey in the Rock” and “Hatfields and McCoys,” produced by Theatre West Virginia in Beckley. Recognizing his lifetime of dedication to the performing arts, the Buckhannon Community Theatre presented him with the Hall of Fame Award in 2001. Previously, he had been named Outstanding Man of the Year in 1972 by the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce and received the Outstanding Secondary Educator of America Award in 1974. Earlier this year, the Buckhannon Community Theatre created the Jim Knorr Award, to be given annually to an outstanding leader in Community Theatre.
Jim also felt a call to service in city government. While still teaching, he was elected to Buckhannon City Council, serving for six years. Following retirement, he then was elected and served as mayor of Buckhannon from 2002-2008. He loved Buckhannon and was a proud ambassador of the City.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Choral Music Program at B-UHS; the Stockert Youth & Community Center (SYCC); or to the Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at Johns Hopkins. Donations to Choral Music Program should be made payable to B-UHS Choir and mailed to B-UHS, 270 BU Drive, Buckhannon WV 26201. Donations to Stockert should be made payable to SYCC and mailed to 79 E. Main Street, Buckhannon WV 26201. Donations to the Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center Fund should be made payable to “Johns Hopkins Medicine” and mailed to Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center Fund—Dr. Vassilis Koliatsos, c/o Robert Kahl, Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 600 N. Wolfe Street, Carnegie 424, Baltimore, MD 21287-6417.
Friends will be received Friday, Oct. 26, 2018 from 4-8 p.m. at the Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home in Buckhannon. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at First United Methodist Church, Buckhannon, with the Rev. Steve Meadows officiating. Burial will follow in the Heavner Cemetery, Buckhannon.
Online condolences may be made to the family at www.polingstclair.com. Those unable to attend the service may watch online following the previous link. Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.