Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Lenore Kniff

November 25, 1929 - April 28, 2023
Grand Rapids, MI



Thursday, May 4, 2023
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Seventh Reformed Church
950 Leonard Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Web Site


Thursday, May 4, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
Seventh Reformed Church
950 Leonard Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Web Site


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Maranatha Bible Conference
4759 Lake Harbor Rd
Muskegon, MI 49441
Web Site

Mission India (formerly Bibles for India)
P.O. Box 141312
Grand Rapids, MI 49514
(616) 453-8855
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Lenore Kniff was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to many. A faithful person, there wasn’t anything that Lenore wouldn’t do for someone in need. She lived her life fully and treasured her close relationships with her family. Nurturing and Christ-centered, Lenore leaves behind many wonderful memories for her loved ones to cherish forever.

Reflecting on the 1920s, was a period of time with a distinctive cultural edge aptly giving the decade the name of the Roaring Twenties. By 1929, the industry was booming until the market crashed that fateful October. Christian and Marie Van Ess, welcomed home their newborn daughter, Lenore Marie on November 25th, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born the oldest of three children, Lenore’s life began during a tumultuous time in our nation’s history.

Growing up on Sibley Street NW, Lenore lived a typical childhood during the Great Depression. Her father worked for Van Orden Van Ess Construction, an underground pipe installation for water and gas. Her mother was a homemaker. They leaned on extended family during hard times and never turned on their faith by attending the Seventh Reformed Church. Lenore met her future husband, Stewart “Nip” Kniff during high school. He was one year behind her in school and her dad wasn’t too fond of the two of them dating. He told Lenore that Nip’s car was too loud, but that didn’t keep them apart. The two of them continued dating even while Nip was serving in the Navy. They were elated to join in marriage on November 10, 1950, and started their early years in a renovated chicken coop behind his mother’s home. At the time, Lenore was working at a telephone company as a switchboard operator. Later, they moved to Northrup Street NW where they began their family of three children; Lynn, Kevin, and Brian.

As a family, they made many special memories together. A highlight was family nights at the YMCA on Leonard Street on Friday nights for dinner and games. They also enjoyed trips to Florida for Spring Break to visit grandparents in Bradenton. They treasured their summers along Lake Michigan at Maranatha Bible Conference in Muskegon where the family had a trailer and eventually a cottage. Most holidays were spent with the Van Ess side of the family and included many extended relatives. Lenore loved her role as a mother and ensured that her children never went without. She wanted nothing but the best for them and instilled in them the value of family and giving to others in need.

Lenore and Nip lived a beautiful life together. They loved to travel and made their way across the globe. Some of the places they traveled were China, Russia, England, and parts of Europe, Mexico, and the Bahamas! She was very outgoing, and they normally had no trouble finding new friends on one of their many trips! Many of these trips inspired a project to help fund that they learned about while traveling. Generous with their resources, they would often give back to the communities they visited in some special way.

They were overjoyed when they became grandparents. For many years, they included their grandchildren on many trips. Lenore always loved to pull pranks on the kids. For over twenty years, she would hide kitchen utensils in the bedsheets at the cottage making her grandkids climb in to find them! Throughout their growing years, Lenore always hosted large family dinners on Sundays. She would prepare a beautiful meal and everyone pitched in to help with dishes! Nothing warmed her heart more than enjoying listening to their stories and participating in their celebrations. A real treat was going out to dinner and shopping with her as she loved to spoil them! When they were grown and visited as adults, she still made special time for them and even was known to join them on the floor for neck messages! A caring grandma, she was always there for her grandkids.

Lenore started with her daughter-in-law, Barb, some 40 years ago, wanting one of the kids to name their daughter Lenore. This traveled down to every single pregnant woman in the family "I want you to name this girl Lenore". She persisted but it never came to fruition. She even asked her pastor if he'd name his daughter Lenore. He humored her and she believed him. Just last week she told her granddaughter (who has 4 girls) " well see Kari, my pastor is using the name Lenore - with a look of smugness about her. She had won.

Lenore was active well into her later years. She loved to spend time on the tennis courts and enjoyed golfing. Lenore loved decorating and interior design. She was very creative and innovative and enjoyed making a comfortable home for family and guests. Described as generous, outgoing, and a real people person, may her loved ones never doubt the unconditional love she held for each and every one of them, and may the special memories they shared warm their hearts for generations to come.

Lenore Marie Kniff, age 93, went to be with Jesus on April 28, 2023. We are so grateful that her heart held out until her much-loved grandchildren and daughter could say goodbye and she heard us! Lenore was born in Grand Rapids, MI, to Chris and Marie Van Ess. She attended Union High School with the Class of 1948 where she met her future husband, Stewart. After they were married, she and Nip moved to New Jersey while Nip served in the Navy. They returned to Grand Rapids where they settled down and had three children. Lenore was an avid tennis and golf player. She and Nip traveled extensively abroad throughout the years. Lenore and her family spent summers at Maranatha Bible Conference Grounds where she was a board member. They spent their winters in Bonita Springs, Florida.

Lenore was a member of the 7th Reformed Church for over 50 years. She was also a founding member of the Naples Florida Community Congregational Church. A special thank you to our friend Andy Edwards and his wife, Lisa, for their selfless devotion, visits, chauffeuring to doctor appointments, and being with her as she lost her struggle. We are truly grateful! Lenore was preceded in death by her son, Kevin (Chip), in 1995, her son, Brian, in 2012, and her husband, Stewart, in 2015. She is survived by her daughter, Lynn (Tom) Littin, grandchildren; Stephanie (Luke) Pringle Jason Olree, Katie (Dustin) Walsh, Kari (Ryan) Cushman, Amy (Jameson) Barbosa, Mitchell Kniff, Jennifer Kniff, and Chris (Trish) Olree. Also her great-grandchildren; Kaiya, Saige, Lyvia Pringle, Londyn, Vienna, Cambreigh and Kenna Cushman, Moxin, Bennett and Vada Barbosa, Haven and McKinlie Olree, and Gwyneth, Maxwell and Parker Walsh. Also surviving are her sister, Norma Peterson; brother, James (Mare) VanEss; daughters-in-law, Barb (Greg) McCulla and Michelle Kniff; and special friends, Ray Bizon, Barb Sturrus, Atts DeVries, and ShirleeOlree. A funeral for Lenore will be held Thursday, May 4, at 11 AM at the 7th Reformed Chapel at 950 Leonard Street. Visitation will be from 10-11 AM with a luncheon at noon. The interment will be in Greenwood Cemetery. Contributions can be made to Maranatha Bible Conference Grounds or Mission India. To leave a memory or condolence please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.