Prominent Augusta builder and contractor, L.A. "Tubby" Knebler died on Thursday, Jan. 2, leaving behind a rich life of accomplishments.
Knebler Construction was responsible for building many nice homes and other projects, such as The Plaza Shopping Center, and the Knebler Paving Company completed many miles of paving projects. Other projects included missile bases, watersheds, and work for the Santa Fe Railroad.
"Some of the finest homes in Augusta were Knebler-built. He built the best. If something wasn't right, he'd tear it out and do it again. He was a hard worker and a man of integrity," said Lewis Simmons, retired realtor and businessman.
For several decades Knebler was a major employer in Augusta and surrounded himself with experienced craftsmen - carpenters, cement workers, welders - workers who would stay with him for many years.
"He was a giant in this town for years and years," good friend, realtor and auctioneer Chuck Korte stated.
"Tubby's philosophy was 'get behind me or get the hell out the way.' He was in charge and he got the job done."
Korte shared a story told to him years ago by Korte's uncle, a close friend of Knebler.
"During Tubby's senior year at Andover High School, where he was quarterback of the football team, something happened to the coach and he wasn't able to coach the team. Tubby became the quarterback and the coach. And that's how he went through life."
Knebler loved flying and was a pilot of a small single-engine Beechcraft who landed in many major airports.
"That took guts and ability," laughed Korte, who is also a pilot.
Knebler's kindness was reported in the Augusta Daily Gazette in 1963 when a couple from Missouri were traveling through Augusta and their car entered a wrong lane, causing an accident with Knebler. The couple's car was so badly damaged that it was inoperable, but it was imperative for them to be home that evening. With no bus connection available, they were in a jam. Knebler drove the couple home, at 250 mile trip - one way.
"He had a big heart. Whenever there was a major project in town, Tubby was willing to send a crew and materials. He donated extensively to the baseball diamonds at Garvin Park," Simmons said.
While the St. James Catholic Church was being constructed it wasn't unusual to see Knebler on site every day making certain that the process was running smoothly. He was a leader in other projects at St. James, as well.
"Tubby helped a lot of guys. He made heavy equipment operators out of farmers," Korte added, "He was quite a guy."
A rosary will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 5 and funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 6, both at St. James Catholic Church. (Go to obituaries to see full obit).