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Rolf and Hildegard Knierim

Lifelong companions died together

Professor Rolf Paul Knierim and Hildegard Emma Knierim (nee Salm) were in a fatal car accident on September 29, 2018 while driving west on Interstate 40 near Winslow, Arizona. They were 90 and 89 years old, respectively.            

They were both born in Germany, professor Knierim on July 8, 1928 in Pirmasens, and Mrs. Knierim on March 26, 1929 in Edenkoben. They met at the age of 5 and were married on June 2, 1955.

In 1966, professor and Mrs. Knierim and their five children moved to California at the invitation of the School of Theology in Claremont, where he took a full professorship position in Old Testament theology and Christian antiquity studies. The family stayed in Claremont for the next 52 years.

Professor Knierim developed the Old Testament PhD program at the Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University), was an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and an internationally known scholar of Old Testament theology.

Rolf and Hildegard were lifelong companions bonded by shared life experiences. “The intricacies of their stories are beyond the scope of this announcement,” their family shared. “They touched many lives around the world in positive and sometimes profound ways, which can only be recounted by the innumerable individuals that hold these experiences and their accompanying stories. Justice, truth, honesty and discovery were their motivation. Remembered by friends as ‘Tell me something new!’ and ‘Doctor-mother,’ they lived not for themselves, but for family and those who are in need.”

They were preceded in death by brothers Werner and Helmut Knierim and Albert and Erick Salm; daughter Barbara Kruells; niece Nina Keller-Henman; and granddaughter Kaylee Leiper.

They are survived by their children, Johannes, Eva, Eberhard and Gabriele; and four grandchildren, Diana Westfall, her husband Pierce and their children Faye and Ember, Thomas Kruells, Ashley Burrows and Keeghan Knierim.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 10 at United Methodist Church, 211 W. Foothill Blvd., Claremont.