A.L. “Buck” Knowles, 94, of Macomb, passed away at 4:46 a.m. Thursday April 12, 2018 at the Wesley Village Healthcare Center in Macomb.
He was born Dec. 10, 1923 in Macomb, to Alred and Winifred Lester Knowles; He married Rosemary Specketer. She survives.
Also surviving are sons, Steve (Eileen) of Macomb; John Knowles of Hillsboro, Oregon, a daughter, Nancy (Rich) Kucharz of Monmouth; a sister, Margaret Munson of Stillwater, Okla.; five grandchildren, Amy (Knowles)Churchill of Morton; Nick (Liz) Knowles of Macomb, IL; Michael Kucharz of Carbon Cliff, Ill.; Elizabeth Kucharz of Monmouth, IL; Ian Knowles of Portland, OR; great-grandchildren Grant Churchill, Luke Churchill, Reagan Knowles, Jack Knowles and Vivian Kucharz; two nieces and three nephews. Extended family includes stepdaughters, Julie Rodgers of Springfield, Ill.; Susan (Lee) Angst of Peoria; stepson, Kevin Specketer of Lincoln, Ill.; seven step-grandchildren, Bart (Sarah) Rodgers of Springfield; Heather Rodgers of Springfield; Heidi (Jon) Jacobus of Petersburg, Ill.; Lindsay (Robb) Craddock of Champaign;  Samantha (Rick) Auch of Peoria; Josh Specketer of Metamora; Tara (Duane) Morris of Lincoln; and 11 step great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, a sister, Dorthea and a brother, Robert. His father died at an early age so he and his siblings were raised on the Lester farm north of Macomb. He attended Prairie Hill grade school and graduated from Western Academy in 1940 where he participated in athletics, music and journalism. He enrolled in Western Illinois State Teachers College where he was a member of Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity and played baseball. He was also sports editor of the Sequel yearbook and a reporter for the Western Courier.
He was drafted into the Army in February 1943 and then transferred to the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet program. He received his pilot wings and commission in Sept. 1944 and was a B-24 Pilot, earning status as a 2nd Lieutenant. After the war he returned to Western Illinois University where he graduated in 1947.
He taught and coached at Keithsburg for two years and then returned to Macomb in 1949 with his wife Shirley. He first worked for Tiernan Engineering Co. and then Hemp and Co., which later became King-Seely Thermos. In 1966 he became Director of the Macomb Park District where he was responsible for acquiring much new land and building several baseball and softball fields along with tennis courts and the property for the current Lakeview Nature Center. After his retirement in 1988 he worked for the WIU Dept. of Public Safety for five years.
In 1980 he married Rosemary Specketer who he had met in Honolulu. They continued their love of travel and wintered on South Padre Island for many years.
He was inducted into the WIU Athletic Hall of Fame, the Illinois Softball Hall of Fame, and received the WIU Alumni Achievement award.
He officiated high school and college football, baseball and basketball for many years. His football career lasted 45 years and he officiated 2 IHSA football championship games.
In 2011, he was privileged to go to Washington D.C. on the first Honor Flight from Hannibal, Mo.
He loved to sing and he was proud of Macomb. He would sing its’ praises all over the nation to the tune of “My Hometown, Macomb, IL” many times with the late Red Miller.
He was a member of the American Legion, Elks, Macomb Country Club, Macomb Beautiful Assn. and WIU Athletic Club. He was a founding member of the West Central Officials Assn.
Funeral Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday April 19, 2018 at St. Paul’s Church in Macomb. Father Adam Stimpson will officiate. Visitation will be Wednesday April 18 at the Dodsworth-Piper-Wallen Funeral Home from 4-7 PM. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery with Military rites. Memorial Contributions may be made to Wesley Village in Macomb or the Great River Honor Flight, c/o WGEM TV in Quincy, IL or donors choice. Please sign guestbook or leave condolences at www.dodsworthfh.com