Cover photo for John Willard Knisely's Obituary
John Willard Knisely Profile Photo
1929 John 2021

John Willard Knisely

May 7, 1929 — September 21, 2021



John Willard Knisely

A Proud Veteran of the Korean War -

John Willard Knisely, age 92, of Carlisle, and formerly of Mechanicsburg, passed away after a brief illness on Tuesday, September 21, 2021.  John was born on Tuesday, May 7, 1929, in Altoona to the late Ira Cleveland Knisely and Suie Grace (Weyant) Knisely.  In addition to his parents, John is preceded in death by his daughter, Kathy (Knisely) Lees, his son, Richard Knisely, seven brothers and four sisters.

John’s survivors include his wife of 70 years, Shirley Louise (Black) Knisely; his son: Jeffrey “Jeff” Wayne Knisely and wife, DruAnn, of New Bloomfield; his two grandchildren: Samantha Knisely and Abagail Lees; and his two great-grandchildren: Adie Lees and Zoe Lees.

John graduated from Altoona Senior High School as part of the class of 1948 and was a proud U.S. Army veteran, who served in the Korean War, from 1951 until 1953. He retired from the Patriot News in Harrisburg, after 29 years of service working as a printer, and from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in Harrisburg after 25 years of service.  John was a member of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Mechanicsburg for more than 55 years.  John was also a member of the Harrisburg Typographic Union #14 and the Communication Workers of America.  He served as former Democratic Party committeeman and serviced as Chairman of Silver Spring Township’s first precinct.  John was a 32nd degree mason; a member of the Eureka Lodge #397 F &AM in Mechanicsburg; the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, for 44 years; Harrisburg Forest #43, Harrisburg Consistory, A.A.S.R. for 43 years; and a Noble at the Harrisburg Zembo Shrine.  He also belonged to Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 50 of Camp Hill; Lower Allen VFW Post 7530 in Mechanicsburg, Central Pennsylvania Blood Bank, and since 1950, the Mechanicsburg Sportsmen’s Association.  John and Shirley took many vacations to Florida, which ended after the 2000 Bush-Gore election.  He and Shirley then began booking cruises, tallying 17 cruises “all over the world”.  John was an avid outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman.  He and his sons traveled to Canada on hunting and fishing trips, at least five times.  John was an accomplished angler and over many years earned the Harrisburg Hunters and Anglers Association “Biggest Fish” trophy, 16 times.  John also loved trucks; owning nine new trucks between the years 1968 and 2006.  His most recent truck had more than 80,000 miles on it.  John was very proud of his work and his family. He will be missed greatly.

All are welcome to join John’s family at his service beginning at 11:00 a.m. at St. John’s Cemetery, 4605 East Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050; with Reverend John Ward-Diorio officiating and where military honors will be presented by the Cumberland County Honor Guard.  John’s family invites everyone to join them for a time of food and fellowship under the pavilion at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 626 Williams Grove Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055, immediately following the interment.  Cremation was private.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in celebration of John’s life can be made to St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 626 Williams Grove Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055.

John’s family has entrusted his care to Buhrig Funeral Home & Crematory in Mechanicsburg, (717) 766-3421.  Read John’s full obituary, view his portrait, offer condolences and sympathy, share stories and memories, upload photographs and videos, light a candle and sign his official guest book by visiting

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Willard Knisely, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service & Interment

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

12:00 - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

St. Paul's United Church of Christ

626 Williams Grove Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

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