Joanne and Jon flank Kim Anderson at yet another banquet. I'm sure Greg called them out by name and thanked them.
Most of you never knew Jon Knapp, and that's unfortunate. The whole world would be a better place if everyone knew Jon Knapp.
I don't remember ever being in this sport when I didn't know Jon, and my life and world have been better because of that. It is now an emptier place, after we lost Jon this week. Cancer got the better of his mortal life, but it never got the better of him.
I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to write a few words about this man, this friend, and this inspiration.
Jon cared about everyone. He cared about everything, every detail, and every part of his friends' lives. He lived his life by a set of rules the rest of us can only aspire to copy. He simply cared. And he cared deeply.
His loving and devoted wife Joanne was never far from his side, as they expertly handled public relations, media relations, and management for a number of the top teams in the sport, most recently Greg Anderson and Jason Line, along with their proud sponsor Summit Racing Equipment.
Jon and Joanne were really JonAndJoanne. One entity, linked together by a sense of love, devotion, and amazing respect for each other and everyone around them. Their love and loyalty was impossible to miss. And they were best friends, too.
All of us in the PR community are sad to have lost Jon in our lives, but we are truly heartbroken for Joanne. She lost half her soul, but knowing her she most likely is focused on the benefit she had to have been married to her soulmate for so long. Our thoughts are with her, and our memories are filled with thoughts of this wonderful man.
I wrote in another story, yesterday, that Jon was the kindest man in the room, no matter what room he was in. His concern for others was never lip service or a facade, either. It was real, from deep within him. It was uncanny how, on every Sunday morning as the group of us would mill about behind the stage while our drivers were being introduced, Jon would find me, shake my hand earnestly, and say "Good luck today." We all flippantly toss that phrase around as if it came free with a cup of coffee. Jon truly meant it, because he wanted all of his friends and colleagues to know that feeling of success and accomplishment.
He, of course, got to feel that a lot, working for the teams he and Joanne have represented. I never saw the man change his attitude or demeanor in any way, whether his driver had just suffered an upset defeat or had won yet another race. He was so dedicated, and so darn good at his job, that all his focus went into giving his team the best possible representation.
I've sat in many banquet rooms, big and small, where Greg Anderson or Jason Line gave a speech to accept another award. Not once, NOT ONCE, did I hear either one of them make that speech without specifically thanking Jon and Joanne for their great work.
Jon was a cat person, and he and Joanne would get doubly excited any time they had new photos to show me. Our cats are our children, and we were always proud parents showing each other funny new pictures of our little loved ones.
Jon was a very sick man at the beginning of this season, making his way to the Charlotte race only because they could drive there from their North Carolina home. He had no hair, had to keep a surgical mask on, and walked slowly. But all that mattered to him was that he was there, amongst his family, feeling our support.
As he began to show signs of beating this demon, his hair grew back in and he let it grow as if to show that disease that it might have had him down, but he wasn't out. I took to walking in each Media Center when Jon was with us and loudly stating "Get a haircut, ya hippie..."
He loved that.
You go through life meeting all sorts of folks. Some are kindred spirits, some are people who make you laugh, and sadly some are folks who infuriate you with their attitudes.
The world just lost one REALLY good man. The rest of us should step it up a bit, just to collectively try to replace the goodness and kindness that just left our world.
Rest in peace, Jon