Garland James Kneten, age 77, passed away at his home in Bartlett, Texas on September 12, 2016. A gathering for remembrance will be held on Friday, September 16, 2016, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at St. John Lutheran Church TRC in Bartlett. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, September 17, at 10 a.m., at St. John Lutheran Church, with burial to follow at the church cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Goodnight Funeral Home.
Son of William and Elsa Kneten, Garland was born in Corpus Christi on February 5, 1939. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Kneten, daughter Kristin Cline and husband Matt and granddaughters Merrill and Rachael, daughter Karen Cross and husband David, as well as beloved Aunt Leona Riedesel, cousins, brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews. It's more than challenging to offer a snapshot of someone's life who had such diversity of interests and passions. Yet, it's easy to say what always came first for Garland-faith and family.
Foremost God's faithful servant, husband, father, grandfather, cousin, brother-in-law, nephew, and uncle, the litany of Garland's devotions and pursuits reveals a life lived to the fullest. It seems that every day in his life presented an opportunity to learn more and give more.
Growing up in Corpus Christi, Garland followed in the footsteps of several relatives by attending Texas Lutheran College. During his weekly attendance of a student music recital that he claimed to usually sleep through, he was pleasantly awakened by the incomparable piano performance of Dorothy Smith, and he immediately knew he needed to spend time with her. While he had to work to get her attention, they eventually did go out, and in 1962 they were married. That was the beginning of nearly 55 years of marriage. Theirs was a model for many to follow-one of shared faith, love, respect, and support in all things.
After graduating from Texas Lutheran College and then Luther Seminary, he served from 1965 to 1973 as a pastor (at times concurrently as organist) for Trinity Lutheran Church in Fort Worth. Wanting to raise their daughters in a smaller community, Garland accepted a call to Bartlett's St. John Lutheran Church, and he, Dotty, Kristin, and Karen moved there in 1973. He served as St. John's pastor until 1977, and even though he left that calling, he continued in his ministry, sharing Christ's love in every interaction. After serving a few years as organist at Bartlett's United Methodist Church, he returned to St. John Lutheran to be their organist and choir director. He continued in that capacity until this summer. In addition to playing organ, he enjoyed writing and arranging music for choirs and instrumentalists. For many years, he continued in ministry by leading adult and high school Sunday school. While summering in Ohio, he also served as substitute organist at First Lutheran Church and Covenant Presbyterian in Springfield.
With years of interest and study in photography, and having ministered to and developed friendships with several area farmers, Garland reinvented himself in 1977 as a part-time farmer and photographer. As in all endeavors, he recruited Dotty, Kristin, and Karen to work as his assistants on the farm and in the Kneten Photography studio in Taylor.
His next reinvention came in the late '80s, prompted by a recession that diminished the viability of professional part-time farming and photography. This time, Garland began by working as a substitute teacher. This ultimately led to teacher certification, and in 1990, a job as the Bartlett HS Band Director. It didn't matter that he had never marched in a band or written a drill-he was a musician, he loved kids, and as always, he was ready to learn. He caught on quickly, excelled, and was well loved by all those fortunate to call him "Mr. K."
After 16 years in Bartlett, he moved five miles up the road to Holland ISD for an opportunity to teach part-time. He was proud to begin Holland's first school choir. For 10 more years, he continued to help students develop a love of music-making, greater self-respect, and learn a few life lessons along the way. During this part-time work, he and Dotty were able to spend more time in Ohio with Kristin and Matt's family, reveling in their time with granddaughters Merrill and Rachael.
Growing up as an apprentice to his father and uncle, partners in carpentry, Garland carried on their legacy throughout his life. He loved sketching architectural plans, completing simple house repairs and adding on to his home. He especially enjoyed the deeply meaningful opportunities to help friends and family build or remodel their homes. In recent years, he treasured working on carpentry projects for and with his granddaughters.
With unyielding respect for those who came before, Garland also spent countless hours researching family history, discovering the pathways to ancestors from as early as the 1500s. He did the same for his church and others. His deep interest in how we're connected to each other was revealed in this tenacious genealogical pursuit as well as in every conversation he had, whether with a lifelong friend or someone he'd just met.
Garland has taught us what it means to live the faith, to be open-minded, selfless, and compassionate, and to work hard for what we believe in.
He loved spending time with family, making music, traveling, landscaping, gardening, building, and learning at every opportunity. In lieu of flowers, we ask you to spend time with your family, appreciate some good music, go somewhere you haven't been before, tend the earth, and learn something you didn't know yesterday.
If inclined, we also welcome your memorial contributions to the Kneten Music Scholarship for Holland HS students, St. John Lutheran Church organ fund, Lutheran World Relief, the Walter John Kneten endowed scholarship at Texas Lutheran University, the Bartlett Volunteer Fire Department, or an organization special to you.