Monday, 25 February 2019 15:15

Pete Knobloch Passes Featured

Written by John Bittner
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Pete Knobloch Pete Knobloch

Pete Knobloch passed away the afternoon of February 25th, at the age of 67 due to complications following operations to remove arterial blockages from his legs last week.  

Pete was a graduate of DeVry Institute and worked at ITT Courier developing both hardware and software for computer terminals for much of his career.  In 1998 he left Courier to devote his efforts to the restoration and repair of player pianos.  That lead to an interest in pipe organs and membership in the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society where he served in various capacities on the Board of Directors, most recently as Statutory Agent. He purchased a vintage Aeolian residential pipe organ and installed it in a spare bedroom in his home in Tempe.  He added MIDI recording and playback capabilities to the organ using electronics of his own design. In addition to the organ, he also had a reproducing grand piano and literally hundreds of piano rolls.  

Pete at Player Piano at Burning Man in 2015Pete began assisting the late Tom Fizzell in the maintenance of the chapter's Wurlitzer theatre organ in the Orpheum Theatre, and the massive Organ Stop Pizza organ in Mesa and assumed Tom's roles at those venues with Tom's passing.  In addition to his maintenance role at Organ Stop, Pete assisted in the recent upgrade of the LED lighting system there and designed circuitry to illuminate individual pipes as they were being played.  At the time of his passing, he was working on upgrading the Organ Stop's MIDI record and playback system again using circuitry of his own design.

An avid outdoorsman, Pete enjoyed river running, hiking, and camping in his spare time.  In 2012 he attended the Burning Man event in Black Rock City, Nevada, and became an enthusiastic member of the local Burning Man community, bringing a player piano and over one hundred piano roles to the remote locations of the annual big burn in Nevada, and the regional Saguaro Man event in northern Arizona for the past several years.  At last year's event in Nevada, he purchased a Calliope that he was in the process of restoring. His ready smile and good natured laugh earned him the Burning Man name of "Smiley Pete."

Pete never married and is survived by his sister and nieces. 

A Celebration of Pete's life will held at Organ Stop Pizza April 27th. 

Details and free ticket information are available here.


Read 4150 times Last modified on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 09:52


  • Comment Link John Sena Tuesday, 03 September 2019 10:35 posted by John Sena

    I worked with Pete at ITT in Tempe for many years. I was on one of his rafting trips down the Verde and at a few parties at his home.
    He was always up-beat and friend to all that crossed his path. I also was a DeVry graduate a few years behind Pete.

  • Comment Link Joyce Turner Tuesday, 05 March 2019 21:09 posted by Joyce Turner

    My son, Bob Olson, and I were terribly shocked when we arrived at the table with our friends at Organ Stop Pizza last Friday and heard the terrible news of the death of dear Peter, whom we have enjoyed there each week. We will always remember him and the fun and knowledge sharing he brought to all of us.

  • Comment Link Bob Koepke Friday, 01 March 2019 11:59 posted by Bob Koepke

    RIP Pete!!!

  • Comment Link Sandra W Tuesday, 26 February 2019 18:22 posted by Sandra W

    Rest in Paradise

  • Comment Link Tom Brannan Tuesday, 26 February 2019 16:27 posted by Tom Brannan

    Pete and I were room-mates in college. Gonna miss you buddy.

  • Comment Link Lorraine La Tona Tuesday, 26 February 2019 12:13 posted by Lorraine La Tona

    Pete will be dearly missed, he was a great guy.RIP Pete*

  • Comment Link Nate Shanahan Tuesday, 26 February 2019 11:10 posted by Nate Shanahan

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful music, coffee, laughter, and your smile that never dimmed. We will miss you terribly. Rip.

  • Comment Link Lisa Shane Tuesday, 26 February 2019 10:49 posted by Lisa Shane

    I can't believe it! He was such a lovable big bear.

  • Comment Link Joan McFadden Monday, 25 February 2019 17:44 posted by Joan McFadden

    Heartbroken. RIP Pete

  • Comment Link Ryan Nelson Monday, 25 February 2019 17:40 posted by Ryan Nelson

    Pete will be dearly missed by our group. He fell right in with us at decompression just a few short months ago. Can't believe he is gone so suddenly.

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