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DUANE VAN KNIEBES


Duane Van Kniebes, 94, of Boulder passed away Thursday, October 1, 2020, at his home in Boulder, Colorado, after a short battle with cancer. Duane was surrounded by the love of his family.

Born May 17, 1926, in Marquette, Michigan to Van C. Kniebes and Doris Leona Kniebes (Reynolds), Duane was the eldest of three siblings. Duane spent a great deal of his youth in Michigan where his father worked as the instrumental music instructor for local grade school and high school students and then, later in life, the owner of the Kniebes Music Mart in downtown St. Joseph.

Post high school, Duane enrolled at Michigan State University (Jan. 1944). During this time, Duane was also accepted in the Army Air Forces Cadet Program and was called for active duty in November 1944. For the next year, Duane served as an aerial photographer in the Photographic Section at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi. After leaving the service in November 1945, Duane returned to Michigan State University under the GI bill and graduated June 1948 with a B.S. in Chemistry.


In January 1949, Duane joined the staff of the Institute of Gas Technology (IGT) in Chicago, Illinois, as an Assistant Chemist. While working at IGT, Duane enrolled at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and attended night school, receiving his M.S. in Physics in 1954. It was during this time that Duane married Beverly L. Shockley on August 5, 1950.

Over the next 35 years, Duane’s career progressed to serve as an Assistant Vice President, managing IGT’s international technical assistance projects for gas industry technician training and engineering education in Algeria and Indonesia. During his career, Duane was a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). He served on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Fuel Gas Standards Management Board, was vice chairman of the ANSI Committee B109 on Gas Displacement Metering for 5 years, and was chairman of the ASTM Committee D3 on Gaseous Fuels for 20 years. He received the “Award of Merit” from ASTM and the “Gold Award of Merit” from the American Gas Association.

During his career, Duane received three patents while at IGT and authored or co-authored 34 publications. After his retirement from IGT in 1984, Duane’s work did not stop, as he was the single holder of two additional patents (1992 and 1998) and the sole author of eight publications dealing with the odorization of natural gas. He also served as a consultant on legal cases dealing with natural gas and propane odorization.

In 1985, Duane along with his wife Susan Kniebes (Briles), who were married January 1, 1977, moved to Boulder, Colorado.

After retirement, Duane’s life-long interest in genealogy led him to first becoming a member and then the president of the Colorado chapter of Palatines to America (COPALM), an organization for individuals researching the genealogy of German-speaking ancestors. Duane’s passion for genealogy culminated in the publishing of the books (2020) on the genealogy of his Kniebes and Reynolds ancestors: A Kniebes Story and A Reynolds Story. But the interest and dedication to genealogy did not stop there. Duane’s involvement with COPALAM led to his volunteering himself and his wife Susan for the Colorado Cemetery Project, a joint effort of the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies and the U.S. Geologic Survey to find, GPS-pinpoint, and document all of the graves and cemeteries in Colorado. In July 2015, Duane and Susan’s research resulted in their publishing a three-volume book titled Cemeteries and Remote Burials in Larimer County, Colorado.

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