Bill Knope (with Bob Marfuta and his big catch of the day)
July 9, 1955 ~ September 17, 1999

He was a loving son, an adored brother, a "cool" uncle, favorite cousin, beloved nephew and an uncommonly loyal and much-loved friend. Bill was a big guy with an even bigger heart. He had a mischievous sense of humor, a charm all his own...and held a special place in the heart of anyone who knew him.


In September of 1999 Bill died suddenly at the age of 44, leaving his family and friends stunned and searching for a way to honor him. We wanted to do something to carry on his name, and since sports were his passion, especially hockey (he was always quick to point out that he was "a Red Wings fan long before it was cool"--you diehard Lions fans can relate), we decided to establish the Bill Knope Memorial Fund, and raise funds to help support the young hockey players in his hometown through the Royal Oak Hockey Association (ROHA).

We decided on an annual golf outing, and with little or no experience in organizing such an event, we planned our first one for September 14, 2001. Still reeling from the tragic events of September 11, we were heartened by those who still came out that afternoon and unanimously agreed to redirect the proceeds from the golf outing to the New York City firefighters. The ROHA graciously accepted this decision and in 2002 we returned to our original plan, by donating 100% of the outing's proceeds to the ROHA, to help offset expenses for players who needed it most.

With two outings behind us, we approached the third with a bit more experience and a broadening sense of purpose. As always, our focus was to honor Bill's memory, by raising funds for a cause he would have supported himself. It was through a family member that Ian Sey, a young boy who lost his father to cancer, came to our attention. Bill lost his father at an early age as well and we began to consider the possibility of sharing some of the proceeds from the outing between the ROHA and a child (or children) whose lives had been changed by the loss of a parent and whose family needed some extra help.

In August 2003 we were deeply shaken by the news of the tragic death of Steve Garfat. A dear friend to many of us as well as Bill, Steve left behind two sons, Eric and Brandon, and we wanted to help in some way. We decided to share the proceeds from our third golf outing between the ROHA, the Ian Sey Trust Fund and the Stephen Patrick Garfat Memorial Fund . . . and a new objective was born.

We embraced this opportunity to help these children in some small way and to honor Bill. He will live on forever in our hearts and we hope that the children we help will go on to do great things and remember to help someone else along their way.

Eric & Brandon Garfat

It's been twelve years since Steve & Connie Garfat's accident and their sons, Eric and Brandon, are now in their twenties and on their own. We will continue to support their endeavors with the enthusiasm of surrogate parents; however, they are no longer among the recipients of the outing proceeds.

While only teenagers, Eric and Brandon were faced with an unthinkable tragedy that required more courage and strength of spirit than most adults could muster. They endured some very difficult times and have firmly stood by their mother. They are a living tribute to the memory of their father, who would be so are we.

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