Herbert Zane Knauss, 88, created USC Symphony’s logo, ‘The Big Music Machine’

Herbert Zane Knauss

Herbert Zane Knauss

Herbert Zane Knauss, of Columbia, died Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, after a brief illness. He was surrounded by love and a circle of family and friends. He was 88.

Known by his friends and family as “Zane,” he was born April 29, 1926, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, a son of the late Lorenz W. Knauss and Mary Brown Knauss. He was preceded in death by a brother and his beloved wife of 40 years, Helen Marie Matalik Knauss.

Zane attended McKeesport schools and graduated from McKeesport High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March 1944 at age 17 and was trained as a medical corpsman. He volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps and was sent to the Pacific, where he served as a medical corpsman with the Second Marine Division during the invasion of Okinawa and then with the Third Marine Division during the occupation of Japan, including a stint in Nagasaki. He was discharged in May of 1946.

After the war, Zane studied for a year at Edinboro State Teachers College in Pennsylvania but quickly decided broadcasting and other career choices were more to his liking.

Also after the war Zane met the love of his life, Helen Marie, and married her on Oct. 2, 1959. The couple then embarked on a honeymoon that was truly an adventure for that era – a six-month jaunt around the world on freighters, visiting everywhere from Egypt and the Philippines to Norway and Hong Kong. That wonderful adventure provided fuel for countless stories over the decades. Zane’s love for Helen blazed throughout the years and especially came forth during the months of dedicated caregiving he provided her as she fought cancer from 1998 to early 2000.

He worked as a disc jockey for radio stations in Oil City, Pennsylvania; Meadville, Pennsylvania; Homestead, Pennsylvania; and Pittsburgh; announced auto racing for a TV station in Pittsburgh and was a writer/producer for WMGM in New York City. Zane also was an emcee, announcer and promoter for all of the tracks in the Pittsburgh Racing Association, a stock car racing association that included the Mon-Duke, South Park, Claridge and Butler Speedways as well as Heidelberg and Washington Raceways. He also did a stint as an advertising copywriter at Wasser, Kay & Phillips in Pittsburgh.

Zane’s love for the arts enabled him to work effectively as a promoter for everything from the theater to classical music.

Zane handled promotions and publicity for 99 productions at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and three productions for the Theatre Guild Society of New York. He also promoted several outdoor drama productions, including “The Golden Crucible” in Pittsburgh, “Honey in the Rock” and “Hatfields and McCoys” in Beckley, West Virginia and “The Liberty Tree” in Columbia. He also handled promotion for the 50th anniversary of “Porgy and Bess” in Charleston.

Zane worked with some of classical music’s greatest luminaries, including Riccardo Muti, the late Georg Solti and the late William Steinberg in his work promoting domestic and overseas tours for the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. He also worked as director of centennial events for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and handled other projects for the Atlanta Symphony and the Alabama Symphony.

He promoted the American Waterways Wind Orchestra on domestic tours and in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and he worked with the River City Brass Band nationally and on tours of Australia and New Zealand. Locally, his expertise aided musical programs at the University of South Carolina, including overseas and national tours with the USC Concert Choir under the late Arpad Darazs and several years handling promotion for the USC Symphony under Donald Portnoy. It was Zane who came up with the USC Symphony’s well-known logo “The Big Music Machine.”

Zane’s expertise allowed him to also promote programs for the Institute of Health and Fitness run by Campbell Soup and the Eurobond promo program for Campbell’s in Europe. He led fundraising for the American/Australia Bicentennial Commission and was a promotion consultant for the American/Australia Bicentennial Organization in Washington.

He moved from Pittsburgh to Dallas in 1968 to work as general manager for the School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University. It was there that his daughter, Christina, was born. Shortly thereafter Zane and his family moved to Columbia to work for 10 years as director of Information Services at the University of South Carolina. During the years other consulting and promotion jobs included work with Allen University, Carnegie Mellon University and a long stint as PR consultant for Windber Medical Center and Windber Research Institute in Windber, Pennsylvania.

Columbia became Zane’s beloved home of 46 years but he also never lost his love of his hometown, McKeesport, Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh area. He visited those areas when he could and talked about them constantly.

Zane was a prolific and wonderful writer, penning everything from newspaper columns and magazine articles to scripts for public radio and television programs. He won the prestigious Ohio State University Award for the PBS documentary “Vanishing Towns.” Other work for SCETV included “And Then There Were Thirteen” and “South Carolina’s Greatest Generation.”

One of his favorite projects was “Cheraw for Dizzy,” a program he wrote and narrated about jazz’s great Dizzy Gillespie. He also wrote the series of “African American Music Tree” programs for ETV radio and penned a book, “Conversations with Jazz Musicians,” which included interviews with everyone from Marian McPartland to Stan Getz. The book is still used for research by jazz scholars. Zane’s other writings are too numerous to mention. In recent years he was working on a book chronicling his many adventures and meetings with musicians and personalities ranging from Duke Ellington and Johnny Carson to Phyllis Diller and Fred Rogers, who were both personal friends.

Above all else, Zane was a survivor. His love for life got him through the Great Depression and WWII as well as years of health problems that included four open heart surgeries in Cleveland and Columbia. In recent years, decreased mobility forced him to stay closer to home but he still enjoyed vacations at North Myrtle Beach and a special trip to California in 2012 to see longtime friend Bette Ford. He was also thrilled to take part in an Honor Flight in 2009, loved attending local arts events and concerts and spending time with treasured friends, which included the late Dr. Donald Saunders and the “Grumpy Old Men” coffee group at Starbucks. Other members of his coffee group also included buddies Hilel Salomon, Stephen Schar, Robert Glymph and Gerald Breger.

The rosary will be recited and there will be a visitation at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, at Dunbar Funeral Home on Devine Street. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 3700 Devine St., Columbia. Interment at Fort Jackson National Cemetery in Columbia and a memorial concert will be held at a later date.

Zane is survived by his daughter, Christina Lee Knauss, of Columbia and North Myrtle Beach; two first cousins, Donald Lynch, of Coulters, Pennsylvania and Christine Watson, of Pensacola, Florida; a sister-in-law, Margaret Castner, of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania; three brothers-in-law, Aemil Matalik, James Matalik and Robert Matalik, all of Burgettstown, Pennsylvania; 22 nieces and nephews; and many second and third cousins. He also leaves behind countless friends and colleagues and will especially be missed by his treasured feline companions who made his life at home so happy, Coal, Smudge and Princess.

His daughter Christina followed in his footsteps and works hard to do him proud in her work as a writer for newspapers and other publications. She knows there will never be another father like Zane.

He loved all of his family, friends and colleagues, but sadness at his leaving is tempered by the knowledge he is finally reunited with departed family and friends, the love of his life, Helen and his little dog Jigs, who he lost in childhood and talked about all his life.

Zane loved life and he loved laughter, so in his honor please remember to smile and make someone else smile, cheer for the Pittsburgh Steelers and make sure to follow the advice he gave everyone: Stay loose!

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the University of South Carolina School of Music, Columbia, SC 29208, St. Joseph Church Building Fund, 3700 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29205; Honor Flight of South Carolina, P.O. Box 292421, Columbia, SC 29229; Pawmetto Lifeline, 1275 Bower Parkway, Columbia, SC 29212; the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach, 409 Bay Street, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582; or a charity of your choice.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Dunbar Funeral Home.

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