Memories of Bill Knoble

I will remember Bill's off-kilter sense of humor. I loved the way he clarified the spelling of his name--"That's 'noble' plus 'K.' The K at the beginning is silent; the K at the end is invisible." 
~Dale Hobson

Bill and his wife Ellen once brought a baby goat to my house, just to show us the adorable little animal. They happened to be passing through my home town and knew where my family lived so they spontaneously stopped in. It was a lovely surprise. 
~Prudence Dechene '17

Our good friend Bill Knoble #4051W crossed over and is climbing the celestial hills.  For those of you who did not know him, he owned “Red Truck Pottery” in Chestertown. His home and shop were always open to us. We will miss the sign at the end of his road that read, “Fresh Pots.”  We jokingly called him the “Harry Potter” but he preferred “Obewonkanoble.”  I met him at the base of the Seymour Mountain slide.  He had broken trail in a fresh 12 inch snowfall by himself all the way from the Cory’s road bridge.  He had already summited and was on his way back. I said, “Wow, out here breaking trail on your own! ….  You must be one tough “muda hucka.”  He said, “Everyone out here today is tough.”  From that day on I learned how tough he really was as we climbed many of the 46 high peaks in winter together.

Bill had a fantastic sense of humor. He could make you laugh until your sides hurt. I wrote a short story about one of those side aching moments (see Bill's epiphany below).  Bill was interviewed by Brian Mann in 2004.  He was not just a potter, he was truly an artist. Click on the link below to hear the interview and you will begin to understand how Bill approached his trade as well as his life.  (Click on "Listen to this story")

Bill’s Epiphany / A True Story

It was a solo winter hike.  46ers are familiar with how "pleasurable" climbing in the Seward Range can be, but winter climbers are treated to six extra miles of that "pleasure" because the road to the trailhead is not plowed.  Those added miles provide the winter climber with additional hours of slogging and zoned out thinking.  Bill had just returned to the trailhead at Cory’s road bridge.  It had not been just a day hike …but a day and night hike.  Bill was relieved that the town plow truck had not buried his van.  He dropped his pack, stowed his Tubbs in the back and slumped into the driver seat for a moment of contented reflection.  With the dome light on, he poured hot tea from a thermos he always stashed. Thoughts of the hot tea acted as a beacon during those cold extra long miles.  Bill blew away the rising steam and sipped from the cup.  He drew a deep breath and took pleasure in the fact that he hadn’t seen anyone all day. It had truly been a solo hike. 

He dropped the truck into drive and allowed the idling engine to slowly propel the vehicle away. The tires squeaked as they crushed the fresh white snow. He sipped from the cup again, savoring the brew.  The moon glow blazed through the trees contrasting crisp dark shadows and sparkling snow crystals.  

Bill was enjoying the feeling of tired legs and those last moments of solitude as the truck idled slowly down the road. He reached up with his tired arm and turned off the dome light. Ahhhh …  heading home.  Suddenly, he felt his solitude snap. He leaned forward and glanced into the rear view mirror. He winced at the near blinding light reflecting from it. To himself he said, “ Now where on earth did this guy come from? ”

Bill thought for a moment. His had been the only car at the bridge. He didn’t recall passing any driveways, but then again he was pretty tired and couldn’t be sure. He took another glancing look into the rear view mirror and again his eyes squinted from the glare. He thought to himself, “Why is this guy on my bumper?  Why has he got his high beams trained on me?  Could it be a cop?”  He began to mutter nasty things. This interloper had smashed his last moments of solitude.  Finally, he pulled over expecting this tailgater to roar by…but no! …. he was still back there!!!!  Bill, at this point had one of those rare moments. His head began to fill up with real useful knowledge. Because you see, it was his own headlamp, blazing away, on full halogen in the rear view mirror.  So many friends, too little time.  I miss you already, Bill.  Dearest Ellen, you made Bill whole and truly a full and happy man.  
~Douglas R. Arnold #4693W

I met Bill when I moved to Chestertown some 20 years ago. He became a fast friend.  After any encounter with "Beel," I left with a lighter step and a smile on my face, appreciating how friends become your family along the way.  His wearing of sandals with socks in the snow, those turtlenecks and tweed coats, never out of style for this man!  His love of the earth, the Adirondacks and Hubbard squash!!  And his bicycle ring at the end of a pottery sale.  I feel very privileged and honored to have had Bill in my life.  If you have ever met him, just once, you will never forget him.  And I know that I never will...
~Linda Sugent

Bill's soft demeanor and good humour were hallmarks of his personality. I got to know him during years of winter climbing and overnights near Johns Brook Lodge in Keene Valley. I remember him diligently studying a geology textbook under the light of a coleman lantern just last year. His pottery was unparalleled; I drink coffee from his anorthosite-glazed mugs daily. He'll be missed greatly...  
~Kevin MacKenzie