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Remembering Gwen Knapp

Businesswoman and philanthropist  

Gwen_Knapp image

Gwen R. Knapp, known for her financial acumen and generous support of numerous causes, died on June 6. She was 86.

Renowned for her mastery of both the stock market and the bridge table- she was a Bronze Life Master of the game-Knapp was president of both the family office and the Jules and Gwen Knapp Charitable Foundation, through which she supported medical research, education, the arts, and Jewish organizations.

"Gwen Knapp was a very smart and capable woman," recalled Dr. Steven B. Nasatir, JUF's executive vice chairman. "[The Knapps] were a greatly admired couple who achieved much success in business and in life, and together made their community stronger and better."

Synagogues across the U.S., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, ORT America, JCFS Chicago and JUF were among the beneficiaries of her generosity.

Through JUF's Centennial Campaign, the Knapps established The Joy Faith Knapp Children's Center of JCFS Chicago, named after their late daughter. The Center is part of its Esther Knapp Campus, named for Jules' mother.

"Gwen Knapp was a remarkable philanthropist and matriarch who has left a lasting impact on our community, and JCFS specifically," said JCFS Chicago' president and CEO Stacey Shor. "Perhaps the greatest testament to her values is that her daughters Sue and Elyse are equally committed to doing all they can to repair the world."

As Joy had succumbed to lupus, her mother founded and served as president of The Lupus Foundation of Illinois. She also founded the Gwen Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research at The University of Chicago, where they made a landmark gift for its Jules and Gwen Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery.

Education was another priority. Knapp served on the Board of The Martin County Education Foundation and in the 1990s established a scholarship at her alma mater, Northwestern University. In 2006, the Knapps established a scholarship for Enactus, helping more than 50 college students achieve their business aspirations.

Gwen met and married the late Jules Knapp, in 1956; he predeceased her in 2020. Together they had four daughters- the late Chari (z"l), Elyse Sollender (the late Jeffrey z"l, Mark Lohkemper), Joy (z"l), and Susan Schulman (Bradley). She had four grandchildren, Shane, DJ, Griffin (Kylie Ford) and Jonah. Memorials may be made to The Gwen Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research at the University of Chicago, or to JUF. Internet was at Shalom Memorial Park. Arrangements were made by Shalom Memorial Funeral Home.


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