Ralph F. Knopf, professor emeritus of internal medicine, died peacefully at his home Jan. 11 at the age of 93.

Knopf was born in Muskegon, Michigan, in March 1926, the third of six boys. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in June 1944, at the age of 18, and served with Company B, 128th Infantry, 32nd Red Arrow Division.

Photo of Ralph Knopf
Ralph Knopf

In 1945, he was shipped to New Guinea and then to Leyte and Luzon in the Philippines. After V-J Day, he served with the U.S. occupation forces in Japan. Knopf was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge with level of Marksman, the Army Presidential Unit Citation, Medal of Good Conduct and the Purple Heart.

After returning from the war, Knopf enrolled at the University of Michigan where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1951 and his medical degree in 1954. He completed his internship and a year of medical residency at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, Washington, where he received the Pfizer Resident Award in 1955.

He returned to U-M in 1956, completing his residency in 1959 and his fellowship in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 1962. He was then appointed as an instructor in internal medicine and rose his way through the ranks, promoted to assistant professor in 1963, associate professor in 1967 and professor in 1973.

Knopf was a highly respected clinician, teacher and researcher, and was widely recognized for his extensive knowledge in endocrinology.

During his years at U-M, Knopf provided endocrinology care to patients in the high-risk pregnancy clinic, served as co-director for the endocrine diagnostic laboratory, and was the endocrine sequence coordinator for sophomore medical students. He also worked in the Diabetes Center, both clinically and as director of professional education.

He also served as a supervising attending in the endocrine fellows Friday morning continuity clinic.

Knopf is survived by his wife of 65 years, Susan, and three children, Melissa, Carrie and Eric.

Knopf was widely regarded as a kind man who took the time to talk to everyone, on both a professional and personal level. He had a vast knowledge in the field of endocrinology, but recognized that there was always more to learn and was passionate about it.

He retired from active faculty status in 1996, and continued his work as professor emeritus for another 14 years before fully retiring in 2010. The Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes created the Ralph Knopf Fellowship to honor him and his outstanding teaching abilities and dedication.

Gifts to the Ralph Knopf Fellowship can be made online and support academic activities of the fellowship program.

Read stories and memories from colleagues and friends.

Submitted by Michigan Medicine

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