Her time with us here on earth now ended, Mathilda “Tillie” Elizabeth (Hrupsa) Knapp, of Felton, DE passed away Monday, November 18, 2013 at her home. She was 82.
Mathilda was born in Felton on August 10, 1931 as the first child to Rudolph and Elizabeth Hrupsa. She grew up on a farm in a large family, knowing much hard work, but also creating many unique and special memories. After attending school in Felton and graduating in 1949, she entered Milford Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. She began her career as a registered nurse in New York City upon graduation from nursing school.
It was during her time at Milford that she met Ronald Knapp of Lewes, DE, then a cadet at the United States Military Academy. Ron and Tillie were married at West Point on June 8, 1954 immediately following his graduation. Tillie continued her nursing career while also becoming an Air Force wife and mother. From Georgia to Texas, New Mexico to California and then Northern Michigan, she moved family and household to each new assignment, setting up a home, then soon repeating the process. While her nursing career became more part-time with each move, she was often the person others would consult for medical advice, providing relief to many. With Ron’s military retirement in 1978, they returned home to Delaware to finish raising their children.
Tillie enjoyed an active lifestyle, including skiing, racquetball, tennis and golf. She could be surprising to family and friends as demonstrated when she took up amateur snowmobile racing in Northern Michigan…and won. She loved to sing and dance and engaged in unique public performances with her sisters. Her appreciation for music led her to learn to play the organ. She shared her love of cake decorating at every family celebration.
A prolific green thumb, she could cause blossoms to spring forth from poor soil or in harsh environments from desert to cold north woods. From her father, she adopted a love of beekeeping and became actively involved in the Delaware Beekeepers Association. Tillie’s Honey was a staple around the house. Her love of nature was evident in her gentle way with all God’s creatures, especially the family’s many beloved pets and the birds that found food at her kitchen window, with the cardinal always her favorite.
While Tillie was slowed by a car accident in 1995, she remained strong-willed. She became active in the Red Hatters, a special group of ladies whom she held close to heart and from which she gained much joy. Fittingly, she became Queen Bee of her chapter. Her penchant for photography only increased as she could always be found, camera in hand, capturing every possible family moment. She continued to devote much time, love, and attention to her grandchildren.
A prolonged illness later in life increasingly limited her ability to enjoy many of her leisure pursuits. Though her speech became strained, there was no change to the laughter in her eyes or the joy, pride and contentment she showed on her face when with her family. She was blessed to be in the gentle care of Joy Bishop and the Late-Betty Starkey to who Tillie’s family is forever grateful. Her family would also like to thank Stephen Campanicki, Dr. Cindy Zarraga, Amanda Gehring (SLP) and the many nurses and staff from Bayada Home Services for their loving care of Tillie.
Page 2 of 2 - Above all, Tillie was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, daughter and sister. She was a woman of great strength who put family and others before self. Her love was boundless in times of joy or sadness, triumph or setback.
She was preceded in death by her husband, her daughter Rebecca, her parents and her sister Frances. She is survived by her children, Ronald Knapp, Jr. (Cindy-Lee) of Olympia, WA; Elizabeth Engle (Jeff) of Elverson, PA, Mary Knapp of Felton, DE, and Ruth Lavelle (Greg) of Wilmington, DE; grandchildren Kathryn and Jessica Knapp, Erin Blankenship, Kylie and Matthew Lavelle; siblings Floyd Hrupsa (Ruth), Phyllis Pearson (Donald), Mary Thresa Allen (Bob), Claire Lea Melvin (Al), Bartos Hrupsa (Thelma) and Thomas Hrupsa (Barbara).
A viewing will be held Sunday, November 24 from 6-8 pm at Pippin Funeral Home, 119 West Camden-Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, DE. Funeral services will be Monday, November 25, at 11 am at Pippin with interment to follow at Hopkins Cemetery, Felton, DE.
Contributions may be made in Tillie’s memory to the Mary Campbell Center, Children and Youth Program, Attn: Karleen O’Brien, 4641 Weldin Road, Wilmington, DE 19803. Their services to children with disabilities have had a profound impact on many, including her grandson, Matthew.
Arrangements by Pippin Funeral Home, 119 West Camden-Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, DE, 19934, 302-697-7002, www.pippinfuneralhome.com.