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Retired general, former lawmaker dies at age 96

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A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday at the New Mexico Military Institute for former state Rep. Richard Knowles of Roswell, a retired Army lieutenant general who served 16 years in the House of Representatives.

Knowles died Wednesday at age 96.

A Republican known to his fellow lawmakers as “Gen. Knowles,” he was widely respected, establishing a reputation for integrity, hard work, and reaching across party lines.

“The art of compromise, that’s what I’ve tried to do,” Knowles told the Journal in a 1998 interview.

“We have a diverse society. We represent different constituents with different needs. That’s what it’s all about. Democracy is founded on diversity. That’s the power of our country and the power of our state,” he said.

Knowles represented a southeastern New Mexico district in the House from 1983 through 1998 – when he decided not to seek re-election – and was the GOP floor leader in 1987-88.

He was a key Republican on financial and leadership committees, serving on the House Appropriations and Finance Committee and the Legislative Finance Committee as well as on panels dealing with business, education, corrections, energy, ethics, legislative reform and more.

A native of Chicago, he had a military career spanning three decades and three wars: World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He moved to Roswell after his retirement from the military in 1974 and opened an antique store.

A legislative scholarship program at the New Mexico Military Institute is named in his honor.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Elizabeth Kay Knowles. Survivors include four children – among them former 2nd Judicial District Judge Richard J. Knowles – two stepsons, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A viewing will be held Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at LaGrone Funeral Chapel in Roswell. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at NMMI’s Pearson Auditorium. Knowles will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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