By Frank Lewis
One of the area’s best known public servants has died. Former Scioto County Sheriff and Commissioner John Paul Knauff, 79, of Lucasville, died Friday at his residence.
“Nine years as a State Patrolman. Sixteen as a sheriff and 16 as commissioner. That’s dedication to public service,” Scioto County Commissioner Skip Riffe said. “He’s probably one of the best local public servants that we’ve had, at least in my lifetime.”
Knauff began his career with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, 1957-68, was the Scioto County Sheriff 1969-84; and was a Scioto County Commissioner from 1985-2001. He was the youngest sheriff ever elected in Scioto County and the first Republican Sheriff in 39 years.
One young deputy will always be grateful for the chance he says Knauff gave him.
“He took a risk and hired somebody that was 21 years old, unmarried and was just a kid,” Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said, referring to himself. “It was unique working for him. He was from the old school. You’re not going to find anybody like him. He’s the last of the old era. You always knew where he stood. All he wanted you to do was to show up for work and do your job and treat people decent, which was his golden rule. He always treated people right and he tried to instill that in the employees that he hired who were working under him. He was strict. He was firm and he was fair.”
Riffe said Knauff took him under his wing when he, Riffe, first took office.
“John and I were very close,” Riffe said. “When I first went in in (19)91, (former Commissioners Clerk) Jeanne Schmidt, who died this past week, and John taught me a lot. They taught me the basic things. John and I got pretty close. John was very easy to work with. John was very helpful to me. John was a significant person in my early years. I liked John a lot.”
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 at the McKinley Funeral Home in Lucasville with Ed Cox officiating. Burial will follow in McKendree Cemetery. Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, and from 10 to 11 Wednesday prior to the funeral.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.