Milton W. Knauff, 92, commercial artist, studio co-founder

March 12, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Milton Williams Knauff, a commercial artist who contributed artwork to Maryland's official highway and landmarks map in 1960, died Thursday of complications after hip surgery at Glen Meadows Retirement Community in Glen Arm. He was 92 and had also lived in Glen Arm for many years.

Family members said he was born in an old home in what was then the Gardenville section of Baltimore County, now Northeast Baltimore. His mother died when he was a small child and he was raised by his father, a paperhanger who traveled by horse and wagon throughout eastern Baltimore County to work sites.

Mr. Knauff, who graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1928, spent several weeks of his senior year at the school as a grandstand usher at the Fair of the Iron Horse, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's centennial pageant held in Halethorpe. About 60 years after the event, he recalled his experience in an Evening Sun article. He wrote that he received free transportation to the fair, a gold watch charm and a bronze medal -- and had to work several extra weeks because of unexpectedly large crowds.

After studying at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he became a commercial artist for the old Washington Daily News in the District of Columbia.

During World War II, he became a draftsman at the radio division of the Bendix Corp. on Joppa Road in Baynesville and free-lanced as a commercial artist in the second half of the 1940s.

He joined three other artists, Ed Christle, George Weal and Don Simpson, in 1950 to found the 4-A Studios (four artists) at 401 N. Charles St.

"He was a wonderful, temperate person. I never saw him get angry," said his partner, Mr. Simpson, who lives in Durham, N.C. "He was a quick and good artist, who could get along with clients who could be fussy and know-it-all. They liked him because he was serious and kept his production standards on time."

Mr. Knauff prepared the design of annual reports for Noxell, makers of Noxzema skin care products, and he designed packaging for the Mrs. Filbert's line of margarine and other products made in Southwest Baltimore. He also prepared artwork for the locally produced Tru-Ade noncarbonated orange drink, Anchor Fence and the old Union Trust Co.

After a decade, two of the artists left 4-A Studios and the firm became Tower Studios at 6 E. Mulberry St.

For the old State Roads Commission, he painted the 1960 pictorial map of Maryland printed on the reverse of the road map. He ornamented the map with oysters, chickens, crabs and terrapins and drew small vignettes of Colonial homes and thoroughbred racing. The map was issued under the administration of Gov. J. Millard Tawes.

After completing a drawing or packaging mock-up, he often walked his finished work to his client in downtown Baltimore.

After his 1970 retirement, he wrote and illustrated The First 200 Years of Gatch Memorial United Methodist Church, a Bel Air Road church where he was a member for five decades. He also traveled.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Timonium United Methodist Church, 2300 Pot Spring Road, where he sang in the choir and prepared a history.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, the former Mildred Fiedler; a son, Bruce Knauff of Towson; and three grandchildren. A son, Glenn Knauff, died in 1980.

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