Roland Jefferson Knobel. Jr.

roland knobel. jr.

February 23, 1923 ~ August 16, 2010

Born in: New York, New York
Resided in: Atlanta, GA

Roland J. Knobel Jr., age 87, died at his home Monday, August 16, 2010 of natural causes. Dr. Knobel was a retired Commander in the United States Navy, Professor Emeritus at both Georgia State University and Emory University and President of the Memorial Society of Georgia. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Jo Kishler Knobel and is survived by a daughter, Cathy Knobel McCann, son Brad Knobel, son-in-law Tim McCann and grandson Michael McCann. Roland J. Knobel was born on February 23, 1923 to Dr. Roland J. Knobel and Nora Seeman Knobel in Richmond borough, Staten Island, New York. He attended public schools and graduated from Curtis High School in 1941. He then joined the United States Navy as a seaman and served aboard the battleship USS Washington in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres. In 1944, he qualified for officer training in the V-12 program and studied at DePauw University, Miami University of Ohio and Harvard Graduate Business School. After Officer Candidate School, he obtained his commission as an Ensign. In 1946, he married Mary Jo Kishler of St. Mary's, Ohio whom he had met at DePauw. Dr Knobel served in the Supply Corps of the Navy, including stations aboard the USS Kearsarge and USS Megara as well as in Washington, Guam, Naples, Philadelphia, Lakehurst and Rota, Spain. He received his Masters in Economics from George Washington University and his PhD in Medical Care Organization from the University of Michigan. "Knob" retired from the Navy in 1966 and came to Atlanta in 1970 as professor in the Health Administration Department at Georgia State University under Dr. Noah Langdale. He helped develop graduate programs in health administration, health ethics and economics and international health management. Later, in conjunction with CDC, he helped establish the School of Public Health at Emory University. After his retirement from Georgia State, he continued to teach part-time at Emory. Knob and Mary Jo loved traveling and did so all over the world Knob even went to Antarctica. He played tennis and croquet and enjoyed bridge and poker. He was active in civic associations and was deeply involved in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta UUCA and its long-lived 40s-50s group. He loved music and was a patron of the Atlanta Symphony. Cremation was by Wages and Sons. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to any one of the charities below, or to a charity of one's choice; Memorial Society of GA, Compassions and Choices, Georgia Public Television, The High Museum, Planned Parenthood, The Memorial Garden at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta or any of the universities mentioned above. Dr. Knobel also gave to dozens of organizations representing 1 health and well-being of people and animals, 2 education and culture, and 3 human rights. Memorial services will be held Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 2:30 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, 1911 Cliff Valley Way, NE Atlanta, GA 30329.

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Memories Timeline


  1. He will be missed so much by so many. A real gentleman; kind, friendly, loyal and persistent in friendship. Always smiling and upbeat. A dependable contributor who wanted the best for everyone including knowing about the Memorial Society of Georgia and who could always be counted on to bring his best. ccc

  2. Our deepest sympathy to family and friends of Knob. He was a dear friend and neighbor; we miss him greatly.

  3. Kathy,Brad,Tim and Michael,
    We are deeply saddened to learn of Knob’s passing and offer our heartfelt condolences.His presence in the Flair Forest neighborhood will be missed by all of us who called the Knobles our friends through these many years. His was, indeed, “a life well lived”. You are in our thoughts and prayers…Judy and JACK Rigby

  4. As the leader of the Memorial Society Board and collaborator in education on end-of-life planning, Knob was an inspiration. His dedication and faithfulness provided a model for us all.

  5. Colleage, neighbor, friend and, especially, tennis partner, I will miss Knobby greatly. I share the loss that Kathy and Brad are feeling and my heart goes out to them both at this time.

  6. Thinking of my good buddy and all the years we spent working with the Memorial Society and all those talks we gave to Sr. Groups.
    My sympathy to Cathy, Brad, Tim and Michael.

  7. I lived next door to Mr. Knobel. He was always pleasant and always had a smile. He was a good neighbor, he will be missed. I remember when I was in college, he came by and wanted to cook steaks for my family, and boy were they delicious. RIP Mr.Knobel.

  8. I have only known Knob in his later years as we worked together on behalf of the Memorial Society, but when others slowed down, Knob kept going..a gentle, steady and guiding force for the organization he so dearly loved and to which he was dedicated. Knob will be remembered and truly missed by individuals from many walks of life..he served as a humble ambassador of good will, patriotic pride, and educational acumen while devoting his life to family, friends, his church and the community as a whole. My husband and I will truly miss him. May Cathy and Brad and all individuals he cared for and loved, take comfort, and know peace as Knob would want.

  9. Knob was a sweet and kind man. I had the priviledge to work with him at UUCA for over 8 years. Please accept my sincere condolences. Losing Knob is a great loss for UUCA.

  10. I’m going to miss Knob’s upbeat get-it-done attitude, his willingness to help, his smiling face and happy voice as he slowed his car to speak to us as we walked our dog in Flair Forest. My sympathies to his family.

  11. I was very fond of Knob– we spoke often and he remained involved in the life of our congregation until the day he died in so many ways.
    He will be much missed.
    My condolences to his children and grandchildren, and hopes for fond memories.

  12. Knob’s zest for life will be missed by so many. Knob was always pleasant and always “getting things done”, what energy! He will be missed terribly. My sympathies.

  13. Knob recruited me to Emory and I am very grateful that he did so. We played tennis on Sat mornings for many years followed by coffee in Little Five Points. Wonderful memories of good times, good friends and much laughter. Rest in peace, Knob.

  14. I want to express my sincere sympathy for the loss of your loved one and I hope the following suggestions help the family members and those who loved Roland Knobel. Jr. to lessen their grief.
    • Talk about your feelings to “a true companion” who will listen patiently and sympathetically.
    • If you have feelings of guilt thinking that some neglect on your part contributed to your loved one’s death, realize, though, that no matter how much we love another person, we cannot prevent “time and unforeseen occurrence from befalling those we love. Ecclesiastes 9:11
    More than anything else, a relationship with God can help you to cope with the death of someone you love. Isaiah 33:24 promises the time when an end to sickness will become a reality. God will put an end to pain, suffering and even DEATH. God promises at Isaiah 25:8 that death will be swallowed up forever.

  15. Over a year ago, Roland and I met for lunch to discuss developing a partnership between Memorial Society and Children’s Burial Assistance, Inc.. I looked forward to working with this outstanding leader, but I waited too long. I will miss you my friend. Paul B. Lee, President and Founder

  16. I met Knob when I first arrived at the School of Public Health, Emory, in 1993 as a staff member of the Dean’s office. Knob introduced himself to me. The years following, every time he stopped by the School of Public Health, Knob would not missed a chance to say hello and give me an endearing hug. I will miss his words and hugs but will keep them in my heart where he will live forever.

  17. I have known Knob for 35 years, since I was a student in the Public Health program in which I now teach. I appreciated every moment of knowing Knob and am very grateful to have had him in my life. My thoughts are with all of his loved ones as you go through this loss.

  18. “My favorite curmudgeon” Knob was. His dry wit and charming growl made my days. I went as his “date” to a “Forever 40s and 50s” meeting once, and felt like a very special lady because of the way he gallantly helped me into and out of the car and held the door for me. A “southern gentleman” with yankee sensibilities, and one of a kind, he will be missed by so many of us!

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