KEWANEE, Illinois — It may be harder to imagine in 2023, but places like Walmart often served more than just a store, such as a teen hangout spot. But for an older woman in Kewanee – that’s where she continued to be active in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Harriet Knepp, Kewanee’s “Walmart walker,” would head to the store’s Fitness Trail every morning at about 7 a.m. to go for a daily walk and say hello to all the familiar faces that have come to know her over the years,
She started on October 24, 1995 and over the course of her time in Kewanee she walked over 15,000 miles in the shop.
In 2001, at the age of 88, she crossed the 10,000-mile mark, accompanied and celebrated by cheering workers.
A member of the Kewanee community, she served as chairman of the board, member and later president of the Kewanee Business and Professional Women’s Club, member of the YMCA board, member of the board of directors of The Salvation Army, a member from Friends of the Library and CLIO Club and volunteer at Kewanee Hospital.
She loved her family and friends, crafting, reading, traveling and walking.
Knepp would later move to Bloomington, Illinois, where she died on November 25, 2014, at the age of 101, 17 years after her late husband Carlton passed away. She was survived by her daughter, 5 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
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Harriet S. Knepp, 101, of Bloomington and formerly of Kewanee, died at 4:00 am on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at Martin Health Center, Bloomington. Her funeral will be held Monday, December 1, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. at Calvary United Methodist Church, Normal, with Rev. K. Bruce Rushing and Rev. Randy Reese. Visitation will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Monday, December 1, 2014 at the church. Funeral services will be at Warren County Memorial Park Cemetery in Monmouth, IL at 3:00 PM on Monday, December 1, 2014. She is survived by a daughter, Carla K. Smith of Bloomington, IL; a son, Jack (Mary) Knepp of Rock Island, IL; five grandchildren Kevin Knepp of Chicago, Paul (Bridget) Knepp of Bettendorf, IA, Molly Knepp of Rock Island, IL, Duane (Kim) Smith of Hortonville, WI, and Doug (Christa) McClain-Smith of Belvidere, IL; and eleven great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Carlton Knepp, who died on November 7, 1997; a sister, Iradine Sprout Hemp; a brother Loren Sprout; a son, R. G. “Mickey” Knepp; a daughter-in-law, Jeanne Knepp; a son-in-law, Sherwood Smith; and a granddaughter, Sarah Margaret Knepp. Mrs. Knepp was born on April 4, 1913 on a farm near Cameron, IL, the daughter of Irvin I. and Mabel Clayton Sprout. She attended Means Grade School and graduated from Monmouth High School. She married Carlton Knepp on May 29, 1932 in Chicago at the Chicago Temple (Methodist Church). She moved from Monmouth to Macomb in 1936 and worked with her husband in the clothing stores of Knepps – then to Canton in 1938 and to Kewanee in 1941 until their retirement on July 1, 1987. Mrs. Knepp had been a member of the Kewanee United Methodist Church since 1942. She was a member of the board of directors and chairman of the trustees. She had been a member of the Kewanee Business and Professional Women’s Club since 1950, serving two years as local president and one year as president of the State Federation. Ms. Knepp served on the YMCA Board, the Salvation Army Board of Directors, Friends of the Library, and CLIO Club. She volunteered at Kewanee Hospital and kept Walmart walker records. Her interests were primarily her family and friends, followed by crafts, reading, traveling and hiking. She ran more than 15,000 miles on the “Fitness Trail” at the Kewanee Walmart Super Center. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be addressed to the First United Methodist Church of Kewanee, Henry County Senior Citizen Center of Kewanee, the local Salvation Army, or to a charity of the donor’s choice.