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Columbia Missourian

Chuck Knife was passionate about firefighting, friends

By Jessica Thomas
February 20, 2013 | 8:15 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Chuck Knife had many passions, but above all he loved to help people.

“He was always the first one to lend a hand to anyone and no one, and the kind of friend that you could always count on,” his sister Pam Strauss said.

Mr. Knife died Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 in Columbia. He was 67.

Mr. Knife was born on May 10, 1945 in Dickinson, N.D. He married his wife Karol Hulett in Columbia in 1988.

Mr. Knife was a career firefighter who worked for the Columbia Fire Department for two decades, retiring as a Lieutenant and Fire Marshal. He went on to work with the Missouri Division of Fire Safety and Travelers Insurance as a fire investigator.

Strauss said one of her favorite memories of her brother was when his picture was published in the paper holding a cat that had been rescued by the fire department. Even though he didn’t rescue the cat himself, Mr. Knife made sure he was returned to his owners.

Strauss said her brother had always claimed to hate cats, but from then on she knew better.

“He loved cats just like he loved every living thing,” she said.

Mr. Knife was a member of the Blue Lodge Twilight #114 and the Moolah Shrine Temple. He was also a 32nd-degree Scottish Rite Mason.

He loved talking to people, his stepdaughter Jill Hulett said, especially veterans. He drove them to and from the hospital for appointments.

“It wasn’t just around Columbia,” Hulett said. "He would drive two hours to pick up a veteran and drive them to the dialysis clinic.”

Mr. Knife also loved the outdoors. He played golf often and spent time at his condo at the Lake of the Ozarks with his wife. 

“We would go down there almost every weekend,” Hulett said. “The more friends we brought the better.”

He took his passion for the outdoors and transformed it into a home in Hallsville, which he designed with his wife and built from the ground up, Hulett said.

“That was a beautiful home out in the country,” Strauss said. “The place just drew you in, no matter what the season.”

Mr. Knife had a dry and sarcastic sense of humor, but was a master storyteller, Strauss said.

“He could just drag you in, even if you heard the story time and time again,” she said.

Strauss remembered a time her brother decided to play a joke and tell her she was adopted.

“It resulted in tears and wailing on my part and a whipping on his part,” Strauss said.

Hulett said he dished out jokes, but liked people who gave it right back.

“Anybody that would banter back and forth with him and tease him he really enjoyed,” Hulett said.

Mr. Knife is survived by his wife Karol; three step children, Alan Hulett and his wife, Karin, Jill Hulett and Joy Hulett, all of Columbia; his sister Pam Strauss and her husband,Dan , of Cape Girardeau; his sister-in-law Lois Knife of San Antonio; two nieces, Lesley Sadovsky and her husband,Brian , of San Antonio and Claire Blankenship of Cape Girardeau; and four grandchildren, Katie Cook, Ryan Hulett and Rylie Hulett of Columbia and Jesse Palmer of Harrisburg.

His parents, brother Richard, daughter Dana and nephew Jeff died earlier.

A celebration of life will be held at the Elks Lodge, 4747 E. Elk Park Drive at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2. Attendants are encouraged to bring a story or memory to share.

Memorial donations may be made to National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, P.O. Drawer 498, Emmitsburg, MD 21727, or to the 10-33 Benevolent Fund, 1105 Lakeview Ave., Columbia, MO 65201 and should include “In memory of Chuck Knife” in the memo.