I spent only three hours with him. But when I saw the article today about his passing, I felt as though I had lost a friend. His name was William Knowles, a highly respected man of great achievement, including a Nobel Peace Prize. He was 95 as of two weeks ago, and lived much of his life in Kirkwood.
The three hours I spent with him were to do a video conversation with him, to provide a DVD of his life story to his family. That's a business and a passion I have, called The Life Preserver. And Bill has an extraordinary story to tell, from the coast of Massachusetts, through Kirkwood, to his final years with his wife at The Willows. He was a man of great dignity with a memory I found amazing for anyone, especially at 94.
I had had conversations prior to our meeting, with his daughter and son. They clued me in on certain areas they wanted him to talk about. It turned out, Bill needed very little prodding. His story about sailing across the Atlantic from Gloucester to Europe was as clear to him as the day they embarked on the journey. His discovery while at Monsanto impacted the future of medical treatment for all of us. He was completely surprised when, years later, he received word that he had just been awarded the Nobel Prize.
The footage from that conversation is still on my computer. I occasionally click on "William Knowles" and listen to him talk, see him smile, the glint in his eyes, as he recounts a life well lived. And isn't that the best any of us can hope for? That when we reach the last day of our days, we can say "It was a life well lived." It was for Bill Knowles.
See an article in the St. Louis Post-Disptach about the passing of William S. Knowles.