Kevin Wells-Knecht, beloved friend, cyclist, and scientist sadly passed away in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on 7 June 2019. He is survived by his two brothers, Mike and Greg, and his two cats, Neutron and Graphite.
Kevin was born in Atlanta, GA to Roy and Shirley Knecht on August 18, 1962. Kevin grew up in Winter Haven, FL in a loving family. He took up long distance cycling at the age of 14, riding frequently with the Polk Area Bicycling Association and working at the local bike shop during his junior and high school years. His father, who was a chemical engineer, was instrumental in providing the nurturing support to follow his passion in the sciences. He graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1980.
Kevin continued his education locally at Polk Community College in Winter Haven, receiving an Associates of Arts degree in 1982. His initial plans to combine his love for exercise and science and pursue a degree in exercise physiology were changed to chemistry after taking classes in organic chemistry. In 1985, Kevin received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of South Florida, Tampa. He received encouragement from several chemistry professors to continue his education for an advanced degree.
He moved to Columbia, SC in 1987 to attend graduate school at the University of South Carolina. As a type 1 diabetic, Kevin specifically went to USC to study under Dr. John Baynes to study the chemical reaction between proteins and sugars (Maillard chemistry), and its role in aging and development of diabetic complications. In 1992, he received his Ph.D. in chemistry. He began his career at Rhone-Poulenc in Research Triangle Park, NC as a research scientist in the Analytical Department.
After a couple years, he moved to GlaxoWelcome to support drug discovery efforts in the fields of diabetes, oncology, and virology. During that time he was president of the Triangle Chromatography Discussion Group (1997/1998). Eleven years later, he moved to New Jersey to work for Schering-Plough, then to Pennsylvania to work for Cephalon (West Chester) which was later acquired by Teva Pharmaceutical. There he worked in the fields of oncology, neurology, and respiratory diseases. Kevin authored and co-authored over 40 scientific publications, many of which have been cited in countless papers across the field. He was also a co-discoverer on a patent for his work at Cephalon.
Kevin was a kind and generous person with a tremendous amount of empathy for people and animals. While in school, he did volunteer work at a summer camp in Florida to benefit children with Type 1 diabetes for several years. He later raised thousands of dollars for the American Diabetes Association and National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Kevin always had a special heart for animals; having 1-2 cats that were adopted from local shelters (his work life was too hectic for dogs).
Kevin’s passion for cycling always remained strong over the 42 years since he started. He did many challenging 100 mile rides and multi-day tours in the mountains of numerous states. He possessed a great deal of creativity to fuel his work and odd humorous side. His colleagues know him best for adorning his laboratory scientific instruments with disco lights. Kevin’s family and friends will also remember him for being the true fighter that he was, defying all odds and numerous medical issues for years.
Services and interment will be private.
Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. West Chester 610-696-1181 www.DellaFH.com
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