Jerry Lee Knappenberger, 76, a longtime general manager of the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and former second trainer for the Terry Holton stable, died June 3, 2019, at the Inn at Chapel Grove in Heath, Ohio. He was born October 9, 1942, in Newark, a son of the late John H. and Mildred G. (Barnes) Knappenberger. He was a graduate of Newark High School and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from The Ohio State University. He remained a life-long Buckeye fan, as well as a Cleveland Indians and Browns fan. He had also been a member of the Newark Maennerchor.
Mr. Knappenberger began his 50-year harness racing career as a second trainer for his high school classmate, Terry Holton. After a 25-year career with the Holton stable, he was hired as the assistant general manager of the OHHA. Mr. Knappenberger took over the top spot with the OHHA upon John Stanley’s retirement in 1998. He served in that position until retiring in 2015. Mr. Knappenberger worked tirelessly for the introduction of Video Lottery Terminals in the state of Ohio. The VTLs allowed the Standardbred industry in Ohio to return to its place of prominence with increased purses at the four commercial tracks and the 65 county fairs. Mr. Knappenberger was elected in 2015 into the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame by a vote of the Ohio chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. He received the Award For Service for 17 years as General Manager of the Ohio Horseman’s Association; the Harness Horseman’s International Award of Appreciation in 2014; the Scioto Downs 2nd Annual Appreciation Award in 2014 and was honored by the 131st General Assembly of the State of Ohio for Outstanding Achievement on his induction into the Ohio Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2015.
Surviving are his sister Linda Ann (Russell) Ault; dear friends Bob and Nancy Richardson; nieces and nephews, Leigh Ann Ault, John (Lorie) Ault; Dr. Matthew (Heather) Ault, Jennifer Ault and several great nieces and nephews.
A funeral service will be held at 9am, on Saturday, June 8, 2019, at the Brucker-Kishler Funeral Home in Newark. Pastor John Ault, Mr. Knappenberger’s nephew, will officiate. Burial will follow in Cedar Hill Cemetery. Family and friends may call from 6pm-8pm, on Friday, at the funeral home, 985 N. 21st Street.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: The Harness Horse Youth Foundation and The Christian Harness Horse Association.
To sign an online guestbook, please visit ww.brucker-kishlerfuneralhome.com.