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Monday, November 16, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Reuben Knoblauch, 77, Served In State Legislature For 30 Years

Retired state Sen. Reuben Knoblauch was a freshman at Sumner High School in 1928 when he decided that one day he would serve in the state House of Representatives.

By the time he retired from politics in 1976, Mr. Knoblauch, a Democrat, held the record for the longest continuous service in the Legislature - 30 years. Six of the years were in the House, the rest in the Senate.

Described by friends and colleagues as honest, sincere and caring, Mr. Knoblauch, who died Friday at 77, devoted his life to programs for war veterans, young people and senior citizens.

Lewis Noel, longtime friend and former mayor of Sumner, Pierce County, said Mr. Knoblauch loved politics and especially enjoyed being addressed as a senator.

"Reuben felt an adrenaline rush when people called him senator," Noel said. "He liked this even after he retired because, to him, it meant that people appreciated all his years of service."

Born and raised in Sumner, Mr. Knoblauch grew up on a farm where his parents, early pioneers from Sweden, raised fruits and vegetables.

After graduating from high school in 1933, Mr. Knoblauch worked for the Pierce County treasurer's office and the Internal Revenue Service in Tacoma until he received his draft notice to the Army in 1942.

In a 1989 letter to friends and family, Mr. Knoblauch wrote about his nearly four years of service during World War II as the "proudest part of my life."

He was elected to the House in 1946 before being elected in 1952 to the Senate, where he chaired the Parks and Recreation Committee and served on the Rules Committee and as the majority leader.

While in office, Mr. Knoblauch also worked for the Pierce County Engineers Department and was active in St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Sumner.

Sen. Marc Gaspard, D-Puyallup, who filled Mr. Knoblauch's seat after he retired, recalled how Mr. Knoblauch encouraged him to run for the Senate. Gaspard, who had first been elected to the House at 24, thought of Mr. Knoblauch as a mentor.

"I admired him. He . . . probably knew every one in his district," said Gaspard. "His type of politics was never what as viewed today as high-tech campaigning. It was going out into the berry fields and shaking hands with the community."

After his retirement, Mr. Knoblauch spent most of his time helping children. He set up a $1,000 scholarship fund at Sumner High School for two students and often gave anonymous donations to help fund Little League fields, Noel said.

He was honored by the Washington State Veterans Administration in 1974 for helping fund the Rainier State School for disabled children in Buckley.

"This man never slowed down," recalled Noel. "I wish there were more citizens like Reuben. He did anything he could think of to help youth."

Mr. Knoblauch, who never married, is survived by his brother, Allan Knoblauch of Sumner; his sister, Viola Hirst of Bremerton. and several nieces and nephews.

Services will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Puyallup Chapel of Powers Funeral Home, 120 W. Pioneer Ave. Funeral mass will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at All Saints Catholic Church, 509 Third St. S.W., Puyallup.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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