Dr. James A. Knoll, 73, of Morehead, passed away Friday, March 13, 2020, at St. Joseph Main in Lexington.
Born December 12, 1946, in Erie, Pennsylvania, he was the son of the late Aaron A. and Julia (McCloskey) Knoll. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by one sister, Alicia P. Knoll.
James is survived by his wife of 49 years, Lois E. (Goldfuss) Knoll; one daughter, Diana J. Knoll of Morehead; one brother, John C. Knoll of Buffalo, New York; one sister, Julia J. Wagner of Phoenix, Arizona; nieces and nephews.
Dr. Knoll began his academic career at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, then continued as a student of special education at Hunter College and earned his Ph.D. at Syracuse University.
From Syracuse, he went to work for the Human Services Research Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a role that had him speaking before the U.S. Congress and traveling the world promoting the services available for those with special needs.
He taught special education at Wayne State University before joining the faculty at Morehead State. He rose through the academic ranks there with an extraordinary record of scholarly research and service.
The respect he earned as a faculty member also brought to him opportunities for administrative service, and he served for a number of years as Chair of the Department of Elementary, Reading, and Special Education. In that role he developed a new program, the Master of Arts in Teaching in special education, a program that allowed people with bachelor's degrees to earn both special education certification and a master’s degree at the same time.
Dr. Knoll spent his long career as an advocate for those with special needs of all sorts and as an educator training teachers to provide the best possible services for those who need them most. In special education "inclusion" was a favorite term that anyone who worked with him heard frequently.
Beyond his professional life, James Knoll was an artist who painted and photographed his world with passion. A recent one-man show at the Rowan County Arts Center featured his compelling black and white photographs that explored the contrasts, textures, and the organic and geometric shapes we all see but rarely notice in the everyday world.
His gifts - personal, professional, and artistic - influenced thousands in his lifetime and will continue through them.
Visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at Northcutt & Son Home for Funerals immediately followed by a memorial service at 5 p.m. with participants Dr. Wayne Willis, Dr. Melissa Willis, and Dr. Daniel Grace.
In lieu of flowers, contributions are suggested to the Morehead State University Foundation, Inc., Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, 150 University Blvd., Box 1887, Morehead, KY 40351.
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