By Greg Peters
School of Health Professions
Hildegard Knopp, the first graduate of the KU Dietetic Internship certificate program at the University of Kansas Medical Center and the 2008 recipient of the School of Health Professions' Life Long Learner award, died on May 8.
"She was a character," said Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., professor and chair of the KU Department of Dietetics and Nutrition. "If I live to my 90s, I can only hope to be like her. She truly was a lifelong learner. Even in her 90s, she would come to seminars on campus. She would sit in the front row, take notes and ask great questions."
Friends said Knopp was always loyal to Kansas State University where she earned her undergraduate degree, but she was particularly fond of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at KU Medical Center where she spent most of her professional career.
She was interested in learning new things and was never afraid to ask questions. She enjoyed singing in the Zion Lutheran Church choir.
"She maintained friendships with people from every walk of life and every generation, but I think she especially welcomed visitors from foreign countries," said Dawn McInnis, a friend of Knopp's and the rare books librarian at the Clendening History of Medicine Library at KU Medical Center. "She enjoyed having people visit her, and for many consecutive years hosted a group of Amish (or Mennonite) folks with a backyard barbeque when they were passing through town on vacation."
Born on Oct. 13, 1915, in Berlin, Germany, Knopp was the daughter of Otto W. and Hedwig (Bohme) Knopp. She is survived by her sister Arlene Schuman, nephew, Horst Schuman and her great nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brother, Otto Knopp.
In her application to be included in the American Dietetic Association (since renamed Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) Foundation's Oral History Project in 2006, Adrienne Moore Baxter, a clinical instructor of the department wrote:
"'Aren't you the schoolmarm who ate with us?' The school lunch program participants in Nicodemus, Kansas, an all-black community, said this to Hildegard as she walked with them down the town's dirt road. Raw milk was served in the Norton, Kansas schools, and as a food safety concern Hildegard set up the first community project to boil milk."
The funeral for Knopp was on May 12 at Faith Lutheran Church in Prairie Village, Kan., with internment at Forest Hill Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be given to Faith Lutheran Church.
The University of Kansas School of Health Professions is located on the KU Medical Center campus in Kansas City, Kan., and offers more than 25 academic programs in health care fields. The School is recognized for its highly ranked educational programs as well as the significant research and clinical service it provides in support of the local community and the State of Kansas.