Uncle "Renfro"'s Life

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     Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker was born Jan. 31, 1898, in Yoakum, Texas, the oldest son of Rev. Hubert D. and Julia Opdenweyer Knickerbocker. Like his siblings, he was schooled at home by his maternal grandmother, Alzada Davidson, until he entered high school. page8.jpg (9220 bytes)
     "Uncle Renfro" put our family on the map as he was a world-famous newspaper and radio reporter from the early 1930s until his untimely death in a plane crash in 1949. He graduated from Waco High School in 1914 and Southwestern University in 1917. He went to New York to seek a degree in psychiatry at Columbia University but switched to graduate journalism courses. He began working with the Newark Morning Ledger and the New York Evening Post.

     Knick returned to Texas in 1922 and at age 24, he established and headed the journalism department at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His father helped to start this school for Methodism in 1914. Most of the Knickerbockers matriculated at SMU, including Bruce and Ronald, and the second generation as well.

     Knick left Dallas for Germany in 1923 and became a foreign correspondent in Munich and Berlin for the Philadelphia Public Ledger and the New York Evening Post, covering the rising power of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party. He also wrote for two German newspapers and took courses at universities in Munich, Berlin and Vienna.His perceptive series of 24 articles on Soviet economic changes brought him a Pulitzer Prize for foreign reporting in 1931. He was expelled from the Soviet Union and was deported from Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933. During his European tour he wrote five books on the political situation and six German language books. Two of the books were "Is Tomorrow Hitler's" and "The Red Trade Menace."

     Knick covered the war in Ethiopia in 1935 and later the civil war in Spain. After seeing German troops march into Austria in 1938, he returned to America to begin lecture tours. In 1941, the Chicago Sun appointed him its chief foreign correspondent. After Pearl Harbor, he sailed with a Navy task force and covered the Far East and South Pacific. He was with the first U.S. troops in North Africa and reported on combat on the European front throughout the war. At the end of WWII, he became a commentator for WOR in New York and his broadcasts went nationwide.

     On July 12, 1949, the plane taking him and other journalists to cover Southeast Asia crashed near Bombay, India. All aboard were killed. His remains are buried in India. Knick was married twice and had 4 children, two of whom survive in New York.