LANCASTER—William Joseph “Bill” McKniff was born in Lancaster, Pa., on March 23, 1928, and died peacefully at home on Myer Creek, Lancaster, on May 15, surrounded by his loving wife, Marlene, and four of their six surviving children.
The second son of Sara Graul and Frank Joseph McKniff, Bill and his siblings, Frank and Mary Jane spent their youth in Elmira, N.Y., and Media, Pa. After the untimely death of their father, the family moved to Philadelphia where Bill, at the age of 10, attended Girard College for grammar through high school. Graduating in 1945, Bill entered Georgetown University on a working scholarship.
Bill worked in the Prefect of Disciplines’ office during the day, attending the School of Foreign Service at night. Bill graduated in January 1949 and was hired as a sales trainee with the Fire Association of Philadelphia.
Upon the outbreak of the Korean War, Bill applied for Naval Aviation Cadet training and was accepted in 1951. He received his wings and a commission of ensign in March 1952. Bill was then sent to Night/All Weather Fighter training school in Key West, Fla., and later was assigned to VC-4 squadron in Atlantic City, N.J.
During this time, Bill took two cruises aboard the carriers USS Leyte and USS Valley Forge, flying the all weather version of the Corsair aircraft. Bill was also qualified in straight wing and swept wing jets.
In 1955, Bill met and married Ruth Tilley and became a father to her three boys, Mark, Ray and James Carman. In 1957, Bill and Ruth were proud to add Dorcie (McKniff) Jasperse to the family clan.
Following his service with the U.S. Navy, Bill continued to faithfully serve his country for the next 28 years with the CIA. The family settled in McLean where Bill and Ruth raised their children, volunteering for Little League, raising funds for equipment and manning carnival booths.
In 1980, an empty nest and the idea of waterfront living lured Bill into retirement and a move for Bill and Ruth to Lively, where they enjoyed their river views for 17 years, until Ruth passed away in 1997.
Two years later, a mutual love of caring for others connected Bill to local resident, Marlene Lasley and a new loving union was born. Marlene and Bill married in 1999 blending their families with Marlene’s three children Bonnie, Bill and Heather. The next 18 years found Bill and Marlene traveling extensively to Marlene’s homeland of Scotland and frequently visiting their children and grandchildren in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida and Texas.
Bill was predeceased by his brother, Frank McKniff; sister, Mary Jane (McKniff) McDermott; and step-daughter Bonnie Dravis.
Bill is survived by and will be terribly missed by his wife, Marlene; their six children, Mark Carman, Ray Carman, Jim Carman, Dorcie (McKniff) Jasperse, Bill Dravis and Heather (Dravis) Menzies; nine grandchildren, Chris Carman, Rebecca Carman, Jon Carman, Brent Carman, Shane Jasperse, Hannah Wambach, Billy Dravis, Alora Dravis, Danielle and Michael Menzies; and seven great grandchildren, Allie, Emma and Tessa Carman, Kendra and Kaylie Carman, and Aiden and Ashur Carman.
An honorable man with a great sense of humor and a love that ran deep, Bill will be Forever Loved and Always Missed.
A memorial service will be held in Bill’s honor at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 28, at the home of Bill and Marlene McKniff in Myer Creek. In lieu of flowers, the family would be grateful for donations to Hospice of Virginia, 1328 Tappahannock Boulevard, Tappahannock, VA 22560.
“Such is of the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings