Walter “Junior” Knepper

Walter “Junior” Knepper
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Walter E. “Junior” Knepper, 80, of Fairview Heights, IL, born March 22, 1934, in Belleville, IL, died Tuesday, January 20, 2015, at Memorial Hospital, Belleville, IL.

Mr. Knepper owned and operated K & K Garage since 1960.  He started auto racing at the age of 13.  Junior owned his own race cars since the 1950’s, winning championships in midget racing, sprint cars, and dirt championship cars.  He was a member of Zion Lutheran Church, Belleville, IL.  Walter was a U.S. Army veteran.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Frieda M., nee Fauss, Knepper; a brother in infancy; and two brothers-in-law, Alan Obst and Paul Wallenfels.

Surviving are his wife of 58 years, Mary A., nee Schmitz, Knepper, whom he married on September 16, 1956;
two children, Sandra L. (John) Cummins of Belleville, IL,
and Steven L. (Bonnie) Knepper of Swansea, IL;
four grandchildren, Christa Garner, Jason (Jamie) Cummins,
Nick Knepper, and Mackenzie Knepper;
five great-grandchildren, Emma and Alyssa Garner,
and Audrey, Chase, and Reed Cummins;
and his sister, Lucille Wallenfels of Miami, FL.

Memorials may be made to Hospice of Southern Illinois.  Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Visitation:  Friends may call from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, January 22, 2015, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL.

Funeral:  Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, January 23, 2015, at the funeral home with Chaplain Joe Chetta officiating.  Entombment will follow at Valhalla Mausoleum, Belleville, IL.

Condolences Left For Walter “Junior” Knepper

Mary, Steve, Nick and family,

Jr. and I had a great connection and I enjoyed our conversations over the past years. Please except my sincere sympathy.

Greg Stanfill
Retired, Spike Chassis

Greg Stanfill, Fillmore, Indiana, 46128



Nancy Reinecker, Fairview Heights, IL, 62208

Junior was a man of great integrity. I met him in 1983 and last saw him late 2014 when I went to his garage and we took a ride in my pickup. I’m glad I got to know him and I know his passing will leave a huge void in the community.

Richard & Marita Davis, Belleville, Illinois, 62221

My father took his vehicles to Mr. Knepper years and years ago, when I was but a teenager and I’m now 70 years old! Mr. Knepper was a very honest man, always looked after my father with great respect, treated him well, and my dad so enjoyed his company, enjoyed chit-chatting with him. I’ve heard many great reports from other people in the last several years about the quality work that Mr. Knepper did on their vehicles. And yes, a man of his integrity will surely be missed. My condolences and prayers go forward for his wife and family.

Sandy Snyder, Belleville, IL, 62226

Our deepest sympathy to Steve and the Knepper Family. Junior was a kind, honest man, always with a pleasant word to say, and a trusted mechanic.

Butch & Pam Werle, Jennifer Jacknewitz, Michael & Brittanie Jacknewitz, Belleville, IL,

So sad to hear about Jr.’s passing. I remember your dad being pretty quiet, but his mechanical abilities spoke loudly. Give Bonnie, Nick and Mackenzie a hug for me.

Brad Gass, Phoenix, AZ, 85018

The staff and management of Gateway Motorsports Park have the Knepper family in our thoughts and prayers. Junior’s contributions to the sport of auto racing paved the way for future generations and we are grateful for him and his entire family.

Chris Blair – Gateway Motorsports Park , Madison, Illinois , 62060

My condolences to you Steve and the Knepper Family.
Junior was a racers racer to the core, with understated high standards and a delightful human being.
The mold of his caliber of a man is gone forever. I am forever grateful I was fortunate to have crossed paths with him and he spared his valuable time to share his wisdom and knowledge with me. His contribution was fundamental to my fifty year motor racing career.
GodSpeed Junior.
James Marsh King and in Audrey’s honor

James Marsh King, Telluride, CO + Belleville, IL, CO + IL, 81435 + 62223

Our deepest sympathy goes out to your entire family. I will always treasure the great times we all had together. Please contact me, Mary Ann, if there is anything I can do. You will be in my prayers.

Karen Tuttle, Tarpon Springs, Florida, 34688

Our sympathies to Steve, Nick and the entire Knepper family, Junior was one of good guys, he will be missed.

John Callahan, Bristol, WI, 53104

Mary Ann, so very sorry to hear about Jr. Please accept my heartfelt condolences and give the kids a big hug for me. I will say a rosary for him. Love to you. Monica

Monica Carter, The Villages, FL, 32162

Our condolences to Mary and the entire Knepper family. We have only lived next door for the last few years but will miss Junior.

Matt and Kristin Kueper, Fairview Heights, IL, 62208

Our prayers are with the Knepper family. I shall always cherish the memories I spent @ the race shop.

Bruce and Lori Rensing, Decaturville, TN, 38329

I am so sorry to hear this. A great loss to the racing community. His cars with Bob Wente behind the wheel were always a headliner where ever they competed.

Don Moore, LaGrange, Ohio, 44050

Steve, thinking of you and your family, Junior was a great man, I am so very sorry for your loss.

Roy Caruthers, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46241

Our condolences to the entire Knepper family on the loss of Junior. From our initial meeting in 1962, Junior provided superb workmanship on our cars and always took time and effort to explain our problems and proposed fixes. Over the years,he seemed more like a friend than simply our mechanic of choice.
Junior was a man of irrefutable integrity, and had a kindness of heart and a relationship with his customers which was exemplary. It was always a pleasure to enter the garage, take part in conversation with him, and view the latest sprint car he was building, or as he put it,his latest “toy.”
He will be greatly missed,but he leaves behind the legacy of a good man.
Again our deepest sympathies.

Greg and Mary Anne Warnecke, Belleville, Illinois, 62226

Steve & Family

So sorry to hear of Walt’s passing. He was a very quiet individual but when it came to midgets, he was one of the best.

Rose Calabrase

Rose Calabrase, Lansing, Michigan, 48912

Our deepest sympathy goes out to the entire Knepper family. Our Thoughts and Prayers are with you all.

Seitz / Vosse, Belleville , Illinois, 62221

Our prayers are with the entire Knepper family. May God be with all of you and bring you comfort and peace at this time of sorrow. Junior helped me often when I had automotive questions when I had an auto repair business in Belleville.

Joe & Kathleen Davis, Linwood, Kansas, 66052

I’m so sorry for your loss. My Dad, Ralph Taylor,loved Junior and his whole family. Their love of racing was deep in their hearts. I’m sure Junior made his entrance through the Pearly Gates with a “slide job” and Dad and Arnie were right there cheering him on! May you all find comfort in knowing that you had one of the greatest mentors and be proud to celebrate all of his wonderful life accompishments!

My sincere sympathy to you all,

Barbie Taylor

Barbie Taylor, Trenton, IL, 62293

My Mother, Captola Range, has used K&K since 1970. I have been with them since 1980 and Jon Meyer since 1993. Junior was honest, friendly and down to earth, he will be missed greatly. My daughter has taken her vehicles there also, so 3 generations of wonderful service. Steve, we will continue using your company. We have sincere sympathy for your loss.

Donna Range, Belleville, IL, 62221

Sorry to hear about jr. He was an icon in midwestern open wheel racing. I always enjoyed visiting with him. He will be missed by many. Our thoughts are with the entire family and friends. Thanks for the many great memories.
Critter, Heidi, Drake, and Cali Malone

critter malone, Pittsboro, Indiana, 46167

We wish to extend condolences to Mary, Steve, Sandy and their families. Time spent with Junior & Mary in their home and at the garage and race shop will always be a fond memory. From our friendship with Junior blossomed into many more friendships around the St. Louis area. It just won’t be the same not seeing Junior wrenching on a midget at the track. Steve, Nick, Kenny and Austin had a wonderful tutor.

Wayne & Jan Dake

Wayne Dake, Deshler, Nebraska, 68340

Our condolences to the entire Knepper family on the loss of Junior. We had many fun times racing with all of the Knepper Family. He will be missed.

The Bigelow’s, Winchester, IN, 47394

My family’s deepest sympathy to Junior’s family. You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Every time I went to the shop he was nice to joke around with.

Tom Case, Belleville, IL, 62220

Our deepest condolences on Junior’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at the difficult time.

Bob & Evelyn Edwards

Bob & Evelyn Edwards, Belleville, Il, 62221

Our condolences to Steve and the Knepper family .
Your dad was one of the best. His knowledge and mechanical skills were admired by all. His friendly personality and honesty will be what we remember most. Our deepest sympathies.

MIke and Bobby Seymour, Marlboro, Massachusetts , 01752

Sorry for Junior’s untimely death. I knew him because he was my mechanic. He was the best mechanic in Belleville.

Stewart Lannert, Belleville, IL, 62226


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