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Harry K dies at 78

CHAMBERLAIN — To many, he was Harry K, a well-known auto dealer with a larger-than-life personality.

To his son and daughters, he was simply Dad.

Harold William Knust, well known for his Harry K automotive dealerships in Chamberlain and Winner, died Friday at a nursing home in Sioux Falls. He was 78.

“I think my dad just really loved life,” said Doug Knust, his father’s oldest child and only son. “He got the most out of every day.”

A native of Howells, Neb., Harold Knust and his wife, Patricia, first moved to Chamberlain in 1963, according to his obituary, which is printed on page A6 of today’s edition. Once there, Knust managed and later owned the Chamberlain Water Company. That company eventually became the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company, which Knust owned until 1994.

Harry Knust  Knust purchased a Schlitz beer distributorship in Winner in 1971, which he sold in 1978.

In 1980, Knust bought the Cle-Kal Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealership in Chamberlain and renamed it Harry K Chevrolet, and later added the Buick and Pontiac brands. In 1987, Knust bought the Ford, Mercury and Lincoln dealership and NAPA store in Winner.

For Knust, the Harry K persona took on a life of its own, most notably in the ads for his dealerships. In one such ad, Knust, dressed in Superman’s blue-and-red tights with an “S” emblazoned across his chest, is shown soaring above his dealerships’ lots, offering “a super deal on the area’s largest inventory of new and used cars and pickups.”

“He loved being Harry K,” said Doug Knust. “That was something that just really fit his personality.”

Since his father’s death, Doug Knust said the family has received overwhelming support from the communities his father lived and worked in.

“I think he always had the big picture in mind,” Doug Knust said. “He knew that in order to succeed as a businessman, this community had to succeed.”

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. James Catholic Church in Chamberlain, with burial in Riverview Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Hickey Funeral Chapel in Chamberlain, with a rosary and Scripture service at 7 p.m. at St. James Catholic Church.