John Knight was born in Provo, Utah, to Elizabeth Allen Berntsen and John Louis Berntsen. His parents divorced when he was two. His mother joined the military and John grew up in many different places, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; California; Texas; Turkey; and England. He attended college at the University of Utah, attaining bachelor’s degrees in psychology and chemistry, later a doctorate in law, a master’s in public administration, and finally a master’s degree in computer science. His love of learning and extensive knowledge about nearly everything was a hallmark of his personality.
He made the best decision of his life when he married Antje Rath in 2000. She was visiting from Germany and it was love at first sight for both of them. They supported each other through difficult times and grew tremendously because of their relationship. Their only child, Christopher, died shortly after birth in 2003, which left them devastated and, if possible, even more devoted to each other.
John’s father and grandmother both suffered for many years with chronic illness, with John’s dad dying at age 53 from complications of this then-unknown malady. As John got older, he started to have similar symptoms. Eventually, it became clear he suffered from a genetic immune system disorder. Over the years, he became more incapacitated and despite his heroic struggles (including reading over 20,000 medical articles and books), there is no cure or actual treatment for this disease. Through the efforts of his half sister Jenny, who also suffers from this illness, we now have a name for this disease: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. John was able to provide DNA to be included in a Stanford research study to try to understand the nature and the mechanisms of this illness. This is a legacy that meant a great deal to him.
John and Antje moved to Moab in 2011, as John became unable to tolerate the pollution in the Salt Lake Valley. He loved the view he had and the friends he made here. Many of them took turns keeping him company in the last year of his life, keeping up his spirits and enjoying his dry wit and big heart. John loved Antje; his family and friends; his cats; Pink Floyd and Bach; Kandinsky; Star Trek; licorice; and prime rib. He loved helping people and figuring things out. He will be missed so much.
John was preceded in death by his father Louis; his sister Coventry; and his son Christopher. He is survived by his wife Antje; parents Liz and Robert; and siblings Hilary, Jeff and Jaynie, Jenny, Adam and Carrie. His greatest hope was that his contribution would prevent his young nephew and niece from ever having to suffer like he did. John died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday morning in Antje’s arms.
A Celebration of Life was held on January 7, 2017, at Spanish Valley Mortuary.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.SpanishValleyMortuary.com.
Please consider a donation in John’s name to the Open Medicine Foundation at www.openmedicinefoundation.org.