School 14

Melinda Ann Wells McKnight

November 12, 1942 ~ March 30, 2021 (age 78)


Melinda Ann Wells McKnight passed away on March 30, 2021 at her home in Lawrence, Kansas.

Melinda was born on November 12, 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri, daughter of Ralph Wesley Wells, Jr. and Barbara Glenn Brink Wells. Melinda graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in 1960 and earned a degree in Zoology at Colorado College in Colorado Springs in 1964. Days after her college graduation, Melinda married Philip Charles McKnight II. Melinda and Phil had met in 1962 as camp counselors at Sanborn Western Camps in Florissant, Colorado. Melinda and Phil lived in Palo Alto, California, while Phil completed his graduate work at Stanford University. Melinda frequently remarked that 1970 was her favorite year, in large part because they lived in Scotland where Phil was a postdoctoral Leverhulme Fellow at Stirling University.

Melinda and Phil moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1971 where they have lived ever since. Melinda earned a Masters of Science with honors at the University of Kansas School of Education and enjoyed working for many years as a research associate at the Center for Research on Learning at KU. Before that, Melinda’s work included teaching second and fourth grade in Mountain View, California; teaching GED courses at the Lawrence Public Schools Adult Learning Center; and proofreading and editing scientific journals for Allen Press in Lawrence, Kansas.

Throughout her life, Melinda was committed to serving the Lawrence community. She was appreciated for her dedication and leadership to the United Way, Altar Guild at Trinity Episcopal Church, the Zodiac Club, and the Kappa Kappa Gamma alumni board. Melinda was an avid reader, loved to frequent the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and found great joy in traveling, especially to Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Europe.

Melinda will be remembered for her thoughtful and encouraging nature, wonderful sense of humor, many close friendships, and talent for making every family gathering special and fun.

Melinda is survived by her husband, Phil; her children, Laura Wells McKnight Barker and husband Clay (Leawood, Kansas), Philip Charles McKnight III and wife Jill (Shawnee, Kansas), Caroline McKnight Hexdall and husband Eric (Hillsborough, North Carolina); her grandchildren, Aurora Barker Jurkovich, Cristal Barker Brower, Ann Melinda Barker, Lindy Caroline Barker, Eva Catherine Barker, Zachary William McKnight, Katherine Joan McKnight, Camille Susan Hexdall, and Ethan Philip Hexdall; her brother, Ralph (Rick) Wesley Wells III; and nephews, nieces, and their children and spouses.

A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Lawrence, Kansas at a future date when larger gatherings are permitted. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the hospice initiative at the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association (

Melinda is missed by all who knew her.

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