Cover photo for Richard E. Knoll's Obituary
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Richard E. Knoll

January 10, 1953 — September 26, 2023

Richard E. Knoll

With heavy hearts our family is heartbroken…
Rich passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Rich was born January 10, 1953, in Dearborn, Michigan. He was an only child and is preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Margaret (Osebold) Knoll.

His wife, Nicki, of 47 years, their daughter Jennifer of Riverside, OH, and their son, David, and grand-dog, Diesel, of Bellbrook, OH.
Numerous cousins & Mother-in-Law, Del Grimm, of Kettering , OH
Sisters-in Law: Sande (Kirk) Orrick of Florida, Vickie Grimm of Idaho, and Teri Stilley of Missouri, as well as several nieces & nephews.

There will be a funeral mass with military honors on
Friday, November 3, 2023, at 1:00 pm
St. Francis of Assisi Church
6245 Wilmington Pike
Dayton, OH 45459
Please join us for light refreshments afterwards.
Visit Scroll down to STREAM SPOT for live streaming.
Visit to view a more in-depth obituary.
A CELEBRATION OF LIFE gathering is being planned for April 2024
to celebrate our 48th Anniversary.
Rich served 4 years in the Air Force where he was stationed for one year on top of a remote radar site in Alaska, 150 miles away from the nearest civilization… which was another remote radar site.

Rich & his Bride, Nicki, met on a blind double date in 1974 when Rich was 21 and Nicki was 16. In 1975 they were engaged and married April 24, 1976. We knew… almost immediately, that we were destined to be together… and were happily married for 47 short years.

Rich was a loyal man, a man of honor and integrity, he was a very smart man,
a very compassionate man. Rich was a man of God. He was an active member
of St. Francis of Assisi church, a member of the men’s choir, he delivered the
contents of the food barrels to the shelters downtown. Rich volunteered his time
and was involved with St. Vincent de Paul, making meals and feeding the homeless.
He also helped with laundering bedding for the homeless shelter residents.

Rich’s compassion to help others was a very big part of his life. He was a regular blood donor, donating every 6–8 weeks for many, many years. He also mentored countless people… from co-workers to grocery checkers at Kroger’s. I’m amazed how many people have recently come up to me and said that Rich had mentored them, some as long as 20–30 years ago! Rich was a very positive, uplifting person and was always there with a smile on his face and ready to help others in need at a moment’s notice.

I am just becoming aware of the hundreds of lives Rich has touched along his journey…
I now understand how he had over 4,800 contacts on his phone…I am so proud of him and I am so honored that he chose ‘ME’ to share his heart and life with. I couldn’t have asked for a better man for a husband and to be the father of our children. What an outstanding role model he has been.

Our song was STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN… and we believe that he will reach his
destination and be at peace with God. He will certainly be missed by all who
knew and loved him.

Rich loved his family deeply and showed us in so many ways daily. We were truly blessed to have him in our lives…There wasn’t a day gone by that he didn’t tell us how much he loved us.

Rich enjoyed working in the yard (shirt-less), looked forward to Friday hot dog nights at the pool and was also known as “POOL GRANDPA” to many. He loved to hear the laughter of the little kids and “KID CHUCKING”, as he called it. Playing with the kids and throwing them in the air in the pool repeatedly. He knew he had a great day when his arms were so sore the next day he could barely move, but the smile left on his face was priceless.

We are also known in our neighborhood as THE KNOLL’S ARK.

Neighbors would knock on the door handing over injured animals for us to nurture back to health. Some of the menagerie included: 6 baby raccoons, bunnies, birds, a ferret, baby squirrels, an opossum and many more. Rich loved animals and helped bottle-feed and bathe these little critters. He enjoyed cuddling and caring for them until they were healthy enough to make it on their own once again. Our daughter worked at all God’s Creatures, a pet store in Centerville, so you can imagine what Knoll’s Ark was like around here. Many years ago our ‘ARK’ consisted of: a dog, 2 cats, a ferret, 2 bearded dragons, 3 whites tree frogs, a rabbit, 2 sulcata tortoises, and a cockatiel.

Rich enjoyed going to La Comedia Dinner Theater for date nights, shooting at the range, playing guitar, riding his Harley Davidson Springer Softail, doing crossword puzzles and playing Sudoku. Rich loved PIZZA and JIMBOY’S TACOS and growing his own hot peppers. His favorite drink was a RUSTY NAIL, neat. Rich also had a great sense of humor, he had to, especially living with all the shenanigans we put him through! He was a good sport about it. Rich did most of the cooking and started that in the early years of our marriage. He’d start to cook dinner before I got home from work to give him a break from studying. He enjoyed cooking and said at least that way he could always have what he wanted for dinner! I still expect him to walk through the door and say…”Hi Wifey, I’m home… What do you want for dinner?”… and my usual response would be… I don’t know… Then he would say…”We had that for dinner last night”! It’s the little silly things that you miss… Oh, how I wish that door would open one more time… Hi Wifey… I’m home…

These are just a few snippets of Rich’s life… all these moments of a lifetime that when put together molded him into the awesome man he became. He will forever be respected, loved and terribly missed by many…

Rich had an extensive, impressive military/civilian career that lasted 32 years. It is amazing to see all the programs that he oversaw or was involved in.

Rich Knoll
Mr. Richard E. Knoll, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is Director, 516th Aeronautical Systems Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He leads more than 570 military, civilian and contractor personnel in six groups and direct reporting squadrons.

The wing executes approximately $44.5 billion in active Air Force programs and is responsible for the modernization, development, test, production, deployment, and sustainment of new and existing aircraft systems. These systems include the C-5, C-17, C-32, C-37, C-40, &
C-30J/AMP, large aircraft infrared countermeasures, and the KC-45 recapitalization program to meet Air Mobility Command, Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard global mobility and special airlift mission requirements. Additionally, the wing executes $9 billion in
foreign military sales programs.

Mr. Knoll entered federal service in 1981 as a design engineer assigned to Sacramento Air Logistics Center, McClellan AFB, Calif. He has held positions in acquisition management as Chief Engineer for the A-10 and A-7 weapon systems, System Support Manager for the Air Force Weather System, Deputy System Program Director for the B-1 Lancer and Reconnaissance System Program Offices, and System Program Director for the F-117 Nighthawk program. Mr. Knoll has also held staff positions at Aeronautical Systems Center and at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Knoll was the Deputy System Program Director for
ASC's F-22 Raptor System Program Office. He was responsible for cradle-to-grave acquisition management, development, test, modernization, and sustainment of the world's most technologically advanced fighter, representing a $10-billion investment.

1981 Bachelor's degree in electrical and electronics engineering, California State University, Sacramento
1989 Air Command and Staff College, by seminar
1993 Master's degree in management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
1994 Program Management Course, Defense Systems Management College,
Fort Belvoir, Va.
1997 Executive Program Manager's Course, Defense Systems Management College, Fort Belvoir, Va.
1998 Leadership for a Democratic Society, Federal Executive Institute, Charlottesville, Va.
1999 Air War College, by correspondence
2004 Defense Leadership and Management Program, National Defense University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
1999 Exemplary Civilian Service Award
2003 Meritorious Civilian Service Award
1986 Appointed to the Logistics Civilian Career Enhancement Program, Executive Cadre
1992 Sloan Fellowship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1993 Appointed to Air Force Materiel Command Top Rung Cadre
1997 Appointed to Defense Leadership and Management Program

After his retirement in 2009, Rich worked another 14 years…

After his Air Force career, and before joining the Dayton Development Coalition, Rich worked in both the small business (Vice President of Sumaria Systems, Inc.) and large, international business arenas (Manager of Dayton Operations,
BAE Systems, Inc.) including proposal management/business capture and operational management of programs in support of the USAF customer.
He was the President of Defense Planning and Analysis Society (DPAAS) from 2010-2022. He was a life member of both the Air Force Association and the Senior Executives Association, and is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The last position he held was as an independent contractor when he joined the Dayton Development Coalition – (DDC) in 2014 where he worked up to the day he passed away, September 26, 2023.

Rich Knoll
Principal, Aerospace and Defense Analyst
Rich Knoll joined the Dayton Development Coalition in 2014 and provides technical and defense analytical and consultation services in support of the retention, development and growth of the aerospace and cyber business activity within the Miami Valley and State of Ohio. His other focus areas include autonomous systems/UAS, microelectronics, regional aerospace supply chain expansion and supporting the interests of local military and defense business partners.

Rich is a retired member of the USAF Senior Executive Service. During his 32-year Air Force Career, he has served as the Chief Engineer for the Force’s fleets of A-10 and A-7D/K aircraft and was the Deputy System Program Director of the B-1 Bomber, Reconnaissance Systems, and the F-22 Raptor. He was also the System Program Director for the F-117 Stealth Fighter and the Director of the Mobility Systems Wing.



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Past Services

Mass of Christian Burial

Friday, November 3, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

St. Francis of Assisi Church

6245 Wilmington Pike, Dayton, OH 45459

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