He was born on November 25, 1924 in Emmett, Idaho, the first born child of Leo Osborne and Isabelle (Pitman) Knowles. In 1935 he moved to Dietrich, where he attended schools. In 1943 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy “until the war was over”. He received his naval training at Farragut, Idaho Naval Training Center. He was eventually sent to Evansville, Indiana where he was assigned as a Motor Machinist’s Mate, a member of the “Black Gang”, for the landing Ship Tank (LST) 817. Dad always joked that LST stood for “Large Slow Target”, since the top speed of the LST was about 11 knots depending on which way the wind was blowing. LST’s transported tanks and other heavy equipment for the war’s effort and they were always an easy target for enemy submarines.
During the spring, summer and early fall of 1945 the LST 817 made four trips from the Philippines to Okinawa during the Battle of Okinawa. Okinawa was the largest amphibious invasion of the Pacific Campaign and the last major naval campaign of World War II.
He left the navy in 1946 with an honorable discharge and returned to Dietrich. He married Gloria Holt of Shoshone in Elko, Nevada 1947. They were later divorced. Leo lived in Shoshone for the last 65 years of his life. He worked for the Idaho Department of Transportation, where he was the parts and supply foreman until his retirement in 1986.
Leo was an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoyed gardening up to the time of his death. When asked where he caught his latest big fish he would say, “In the mouth”. He was always a “backyard” auto mechanic and enjoyed tinkering with his vehicles. He enjoyed going to the 60th LST 817 Naval reunion and visiting with his shipmates and sharing stories. He was very proud of his military service and those he served with in the heat of battle.
He is survived by his three children: Dennis Knowles of Cary, Ken (Ruth) Knowles of Burley and Debbie Keller of Twin Falls; five grandchildren and their families, Jessie Knowles (Dave) Pelham of Royal City, Washington, Justin (Sandy) Knowles of Palmdale, California, Heather (Ben) Felix of Grand Junction, Colordao, Trevor (Erin) Knowles of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and Hillary (Scott) Johnson of Dallas, Texas; fifteen great grandchildren, Ashlyn, Johnathan, Cody, Cami, Kyle, Ryan, Dylan, Jaden, Josh, Brendon, Morgan, Andrew, Sarah, Tate and Cole; and his sister, Edith Ward of Twin Falls.
He was preceded in death by: his parents; his brother, Don Knowles; his nephew, Leo Donnavon Knowles; and his niece, Connie Jean Knowles Smith.
The funeral service will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at the Shoshone L.D.S. Church with Bishop Wallace Bingham conducting. The burial will follow at Shoshone Cemetery with full military honors under the direction of the Idaho National Guard Honor Guard.
A visitation for family and friends will take place on Saturday from 10:00 am until 10:45 am at the Shoshone L.D.S. Church.
Donations can be made to any Veteran’s Organization.
Funeral arrangements are under the care and direction of Demaray Funeral Service – Shoshone Chapel.
Condolences may be shared with the family by visiting the obituary link at www.demarayfuneralservice.com.