Former GOP Congressman Dies At 84

DETROIT (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg, a Republican who served suburban Detroit’s Oakland County for 16 years after a career in insurance, died Tuesday at 84.

Michigan State Sen. Marty Knollenberg said his father died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at a memory care facility in Troy, where he lived for 2 ¢ years.

Knollenberg was born in 1933 in Mattoon, Illinois, where he grew up on a farm with 12 siblings. After getting a bachelor’s degree and serving in the Army, he started working in insurance and transferred to Michigan. He ended up running his own insurance agency.

Knollenberg was elected to Congress in 1992 at 59– his first elected office. He had been chairman of the Oakland County Republican Party, a district chairman and president and founder of a local GOP club.

Marty Knollenberg said his father ran at the urging of retiring U.S. Rep. Bill Broomfield, who had become a friend.

“When he ran for Congress it was a surprise to a lot of people — he never indicated it was his ambition,” Knollenberg said of his father, who had been involved in his children’s schools, nonprofit organizations and his church, where he played banjo and guitar.