We recently received word that Richard Knobel died on July 15th, and although many of you may not have known him, he did come to LCH frequently. When I knew him, he worked for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, and invited us several times to his beach house in Haleiwa. For several years, he and Carl Crosier went out to lunch together, mostly at Thai restaurants. What I didn’t know was that he majored in music in college. He was a former organ student of mine and took his lessons very seriously. He even bought a three-manual organ for his home, which was borrowed once by the Honolulu Symphony when I was contracted to play the Saint-Saëns “Organ Symphony” with them.
Once when he came for his lesson, the first piece he played for me was “Old Hundredth.” (You know, the Doxology: Praise God from whom all blessings flow.) “Kathy, do you know why I played that piece for you?” “Why, no.” “It’s my 100th lesson with you!” Yes, he had kept track!
He attended many of our special services and concerts, and after the St. Matthew Passion performance, he wrote us a beautiful letter of thanks. “For me, as for so many others with whom I have spoken, your performance was outstanding and distinguished by your high standards and careful attention to so many details. . . Shortly after the opening chorus, time stood still while wave after wave of sublime music, beautifully performed washed over us. . . Time’s abeyance was particularly noticeable.”
After he retired from Kaiser, he entered seminary at the Pacific School of Religion. I later played for his ordination service at Central Union Church. A few years later, when we attended the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians conference in Houston, we had dinner with him and he seemed overjoyed to see us.
A couple of years ago, LCH parishioner Marlise Tellander found his organ music at the Friends of the Library sale. I contacted him about it, and apparently it had been taken there by mistake, so we rescued the music and sent it back to him.
Requiescat in pace, Richard!