Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remembering Robert "Evel" Knievel October 17, 1938 - November 30, 2007

"Robert "Evel" Knievel's legacy as America's Legendary Daredevil, Last of the Gladiators, and King of the Stuntmen will undeniably live on among millions of the fans, past, present, and future."
However, the memories of the man apart from his legend will live on even stronger in the hearts of his friends and family.  Despite his well-known swagger of self confidence, the legacy he wished for most of all was simply to be an inspiration."

These are the words written on the funeral program from his funeral on Monday Dec. 10, 2007 that was held at the Butte, Montana Civic Center.

Evel Knievel was born in Butte, Montana on Oct. 17, 1938.  He always said that living in Butte were some of the most valued times of his life.  His fame took him far and wide across the country and even overseas, but Knievel never let go of the love and pride he had for his hometown.  He attended the Butte public schools prior to serving in the U.S. Army reserves.  In his younger years, he was an exceptional athlete.  He also excelled in many different professions before he found his calling as a daredevil.

Over the years, Knievel earned a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for having broken the most bones in a lifetime (over 433 of them).  He accomplished many memorable feats including his longest jump that took place on October 25, 1975 at Kings Island theme park in Cincinnati where he jumped 14 buses.  He also attempted a jump over the Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho but his parachute deployed after take off and his vehicle crashed a few feet from the river's edge.  His nationally televised motorcycle jumps were four of the twenty most watched ABC's Wide World of Sports events in history.  He endorsed Harley Davidson and the Ideal Toy Company.  His life story was featured in 1977 in the film Viva Knievel and was portrayed by George Hamilton.  Other movies about him featured Sam Elliott and George Eads. He jokingly stated that during his career, he had earned $60 million dollars and spent $62 million.  He was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.

As a celebrity, Knievel loved fast cars, fancy yachts, and private airplanes along with fancy clothes and jewelry.  He became friends with the rich and famous in Hollywood.  He had few regrets in his later years.  He claimed to have always strived to do the right things.  His family was extremely important to him as well as his real friends.  He never forgot where he came from as well as those who helped him over the years .  His colors of red, white, and blue for which he was famous for were as much a tribute to his character as they were for his feeling of living and growing up in America.  He admitted that he was very materialistic in his younger years.

Near the end of Knievel's life, he claimed to have found the fulfillment of Jesus Christ in his life.  He was baptized publicly on April 1, 2007 on the Hour of Power in the Crystal Cathedral by Dr. Robert Schuller several months prior to his death.

Knievel suffered from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in the final years of his life and required supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day.  He also had severe pain throughout his body from all of the injuries he had received over the years.

Evel Knievel died on November 30, 2007 at the age of 69 en route to the hospital from his home in Clearwater, Florida.

Dr. Robert Schuller, who had baptized Knievel about seven months before his death, officiated Robert Evel Knievel's funeral that was attended by thousands of family, friends, and fans. Schuller said "Heaven will rejoice that he wrote the last words to his life and was standing next to You when he wrote them.: Believe in Jesus Christ."   Actor Matthew McConaughey, a friend of Knievel said of him "He's forever in flight now.  He doesn't have to land."

The music at the service was a mix of country and Frank Sinatra's "My Way."  As his casket entered the Butte Civic Center, a three minute display of red, white, and blue fireworks lit the night sky.
Evel's funeral held at Butte Civic Center

Knievel's funeral program
The Duggan Dolan Mortuary later laid Knievel to rest in the Mountain View Cemetery in Butte.

I will end with
Evel's Knievel's words printed on the program

"Concerning my purpose in life   I feel that God put me here   to do the best,  to live the best, and to be the best at what I've chosen to do and I am trying to do that.  And when He's ready, He'll take me--A human being cannot ask for a better deal than that."     Evel Knievel
His resting place at Mountain View Cemetery

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