Editor’s Note: I’ve known Dr. Knotts my entire life but I never had a conversation with him until I began reporting on the school board meetings. Over the last couple of years, Dr. Knotts and I had many conversations while waiting for the school board meetings to begin. My apologies to the other school board members who had no choice but to listen to our discussions on World War II, atom bombs, spy technology during the Cold War, undercover agents, his work in the military, and many other world history topics. On numerous occasions, Dr. Knotts and I stayed after the school board meetings to continue our conversations. I will greatly miss our conversations.
Dr. Knotts’s children provided the following information:
The model of a self-made man, we were privileged to have him in our lives. Kenneth L. Knotts, Sr., PhD, passed away peacefully on October 24, 2022. Known by many as Larry, he was born May 12, 1937, near Ashland, in the Punkin Center Community. Son of Welborn Clifton “Cliff” and Irene Knotts, Larry graduated Valedictorian of his Ashland High School Class of 1955. On May 12, 1955, Larry celebrated his 18 th birthday, graduated from high school, and volunteered for the U.S. Air Force. He entered Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, distinguished himself as Flight Guide, and was selected to attend Air Force Intelligence School, from which he graduated at the top of his class. Early in his career, at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, Larry helped to plan some of the earliest Air Force bombing missions over Vietnam. In October, 1962, while at Barksdale AFB, he and other critical staff helped to direct operations during the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis. Afterwards, at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, he received his Bachelors’, Masters’, and ultimately a Doctorate in Political Science. Considered by many as one of the school’s top instructors, he taught for 20 years, and retired in 1988. In his “retirement,” Larry went on to do more for his community and region than many men do in a lifetime. He led Bienville Parish Ward Seven’s campaign to form a Volunteer Fire Department, then served as District Fire Chief for many years. Considering a good education a high priority, he served 32 years as a School Board member, setting a statewide record for the number of terms in office. He also became a self-taught gunsmith and continued that work until his death.
Of all the things in his life, Larry was proudest of his family. He is survived by son Kenneth Larry Knotts Jr., wife, Elizabeth Thompson, of Plattsmouth, Nebraska; son, Kerry Louis Knotts of Alexandria, Louisiana; daughter Kelley Louise Ranches, husband, Brandon, of Meadville, Mississippi; and son, Karl Logan Knotts, wife, Devon, of Benton, Louisiana; grandchildren Kathryn Lynn Knotts Simms, of Pickerington, Ohio; Krista Lynn and Brandon Lee Ranches, Jr of Meadville; Levi Michael and Jackson Logan Knotts of Benton; and Chester Kenneth Thompson-Knotts of Plattsmouth; and great-granddaughters, Kenna Lynn and Madilyn Ada Simms of Pickerington.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Betty Jean Cheatwood Knotts; by their darling daughter, Kirsten Lynn; his parents, Cliff and Irene; and sisters Azelle Knotts, Onetha Woodard, and Ila Lovell. He is survived by sisters Mary Oleta Bown of Ashland, and Iva Jarriett of Ashland.
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