Bob Kniefel has been an unforgettable transportation icon in Alaska for nearly five decades, and a treasured member of the Kittelson family since 2011, when he started with Kittelson following an already long and successful career in the transportation public sector. Bob passed away on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
Bob’s Life and Transportation Legacy
After growing up in the Pacific Northwest and graduating from the University of Washington, Bob received an offer to join the City of Anchorage as Associate Traffic Engineer. He and his wife decided they could handle one year anywhere, so he took the position. Anchorage has been their home ever since.
Bob operated under the philosophy that the voice of people in the community was crucial, and it was always better to engage the public in the process early rather than later in any project. His career in transportation included serving as Associate Traffic Engineer, Borough Traffic Engineer, AMATS Transportation Study Manager, Municipal Traffic Engineer, and Director of Public Transportation/People Mover, during which time he became a local TV personality and was affectionately referred to as “Bus Boy Bob”. For his work on Alaska transit projects, Bob received the State of Alaska DOT North Star Transit Award. During his time as Director of Public Transportation he accepted the Community Transportation Association of America Award as the Most Innovative Transit System in America, on behalf of the Municipality. He earned the Engineer of the Year award from the ITE Alaska Section in 2016.
Bob’s Impact on Kittelson
Bob also had a positive influence on the lives and careers of many of us at Kittelson and as a result we have made donations in his honor to both the local public radio station (KSKA) and his family’s church. Here are just a few statements from Kittelson team members regarding that impact.
“Bob had so many admirable attributes. He was approachable, unassuming, accepting, kind-spirited, and generous with all that he had to offer. Always happy to share his perspectives but more interested in hearing others, Bob seemed to gain energy from sharing, collaborating, learning, mentoring, and advising. Honesty, integrity, forthrightness, and objectivity were other trademarks that earned him the respect of so many in the professional community. I treasured all of these qualities about Bob, as well as his sense of pragmatism and practicality. He gave me so many rich examples of how to live the values I hold so dear. I will carry them with me, as inspirations.”
“I remember working with Bob on the Basin Transit Plan in Klamath Falls. This was the first transit plan I did, and having Bob on our team was really important to giving us both the confidence we could do it (as he was a former transit manager in Anchorage) and gave us some street credit with our client. I will never forget that he attended a meeting with us in person in Klamath Falls. He was visiting our Portland office and doing some traveling with his wife and he drove to Klamath Falls to help us at a client meeting and conduct driver interviews. It was an entertaining lunch with our client and included gifts of smoked salmon! He was an important part of that first project that led to many more.”
“It is difficult to adequately summarize, in a few paragraphs, the positive impact of having Claudia and Bob as friends and navigators of life in Alaska’s ‘big city/small town.’ I was so fortunate to have met Bob and Claudia shortly after moving to Anchorage when Kittelson decided to open an Alaskan office in 2010. Bob was the ultimate, community first, public servant and consultant. He was opinionated and considerate/empathetic to others simultaneously. Bob strove to find solutions that benefited the most people. He loved to share the spotlight and made others around him shine.”
“Bob was always someone you could call when you needed sage advice and there is no way to find words to explain the joy in voice when he answered with “Crazy Bob here.” Somehow, he always made you feel important and you knew it would all be ok. He was the quintessential mentor – he saw talent, he cultivated it, and he gave tough love along the journey!”
Bob leaves behind a lasting legacy in the community he lived to serve. You can read more about Bob’s life and legacy on his obituary. If you worked with Bob or knew him, we invite you to leave a note on the tribute wall.
"Bob strove to find solutions that benefited the most people. He loved to share the spotlight and made others around him shine.”- Gary Katsion