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Owner of supermarkets had knack for music

| Thursday, April 29, 2004

Walter G. Knopp rose during a long career in the grocery business from stock boy to owner of three Shop 'n Save supermarkets.

And he did it without stepping on toes, said his brother, David Knopp.

Mr. Knopp, of Upper St. Clair, died Tuesday, April 27, 2004. He was 59.

"Someone made the comment to me today that he felt that no one that my brother was acquainted with would ever be able to say anything negative about him -- including people that competed with him in the business," David Knopp said. "He was very well-liked and very well-respected -- someone that a lot of people went to for advice."

Mr. Knopp grew up in West Mifflin with brothers David, Tim and Greg. David Knopp said theirs was a typical upbringing for that time. Their father, Walter, worked in a steel mill, while their mother, Sarah, tended to the home and children.

Mr. Knopp began working as a stock boy at the Thorofare supermarkets in Glassport and West Mifflin in the 1960s.

At the time of his death, he owned the Heidelberg, Century Square and South Fayette Shop 'n Save stores.

But there was more to Mr. Knopp than his work in supermarkets. He loved to sing opera and received a dual degree in music and music education from Carnegie Mellon University in 1967, David Knopp said.

"He was always very musically talented -- played the piano and the organ. He could play almost any instrument at least a little bit."

After graduation, Mr. Knopp worked three jobs -- as a music teacher at Mt. Lebanon High School, a paid tenor at Shadyside Presbyterian Church and manager of a grocery store in Bellevue.

In the early 1970s, he opened one of the area's first Shop 'n Save stores, in Carnegie.

Mr. Knopp also loved boating, his brother said. "One of the last fun things that we did together was we brought a boat from Jacksonville, Fla., to the Chesapeake Bay. We spent about seven days on the boat together," David Knopp said.

He and his brother both loved boating for the thrill of being on the water and for the adventure of discovering new people and places along their journey.

"On the boat sometimes you could see the coastline ... other times you run inside and you get to enjoy Americana. It was almost like exploring. It was the thrill of exploring and doing something new," David Knopp said.

In addition to his brothers, Mr. Knopp is survived by his mother, Sarah; wife, Kathy; and three children, Melissa Hruby and Dan and Stephanie Knopp.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today at L. Beinhauer and Son, 2828 Washington Road, Peters. Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2040 Washington Road, Upper St. Clair.

The family suggests memorial donations be made to ALS Therapy Development Foundation, 215 First St., Cambridge MA 02142.

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