Benjamin Gaffrey Knier died on Friday, March 14, 2014, in Fargo in a battle with deep depression. 

Ben was born on December 10, 1987, to Frank and Mary Gaffrey Knier.  He was their third child, following his two sisters, Anna and Alexandra.

He grew up in Fargo and resided there most of his life.  He was a happy child.  Ben loved to draw cartoons.  He especially liked “Calvin and Hobbes,” and at age eight created a comic strip featuring his own Calvin-like character, Napoleon. 

Ben was ever curious, industriously poring over books (a set of encyclopedias when he was a boy; classics including Les Miserables unabridged and The Count of Monte Cristo in adulthood.)  Throughout his life he read extensively, his mind readily absorbing a wealth of information.  His memory was astounding.  He had a keen interest in geography, and even as an adult he often watched documentaries from the library on different countries and their habitat, animals, and people.  One of his desires was to travel to out-of-the-way places in the world.

Ben enjoyed being outside.  As a little boy, he once told his mother, “I love snow; it’s like one big toy!”  In summer he studied improv and dance at Trollwood.  Whatever the weather, he enjoyed skateboarding and taking long walks.  He wore out a soccer ball. 

Benjamin attended Nativity Elementary, Sullivan Middle School, and studied two years at Shanley High School, where as a freshman he performed in two theatrical productions:  as the Dormouse in “Alice in Wonderland” and as a tap dancer and the villain in the spring musical, “42nd Street.”  For his junior year he transferred to Fargo South High School.  He liked a large school and graduated in 2006.

As an avid artist, Ben drew detailed, intricate pictures that displayed his creativity and skill.  Often his subjects were abstract and revealed unique perspectives.  His favorite medium was pen and ink.  In college at MSUM, he took many art courses and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Graphic Communications.

He worked his way through college in the restaurant business, first as a dishwasher and then as a cook.  After graduation, he worked as a pre-press technician for The Forum.          

Ben was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Joseph and Anna Gaffrey of New Rockford, ND, and two uncles, Kevin Gaffrey and James Knier. 

He is survived by his parents; his sisters, Anna Knier and Alexandra Putzer; his brother-in-law, Steven Putzer; his nephew, Joseph, and a new niece or nephew expected in late July (Oshkosh, WI); his paternal grandparents, Clifford and Theresa Knier of Clear Lake, MN; and his 26 aunts and uncles and 32 cousins.  Their love was uplifting.   

Memorials may be sent to St. Gianna’s Maternity Home, 15605 County Road 15, Minto, ND 58261 or St. Vincent de Paul Conference, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, 710 10th Street So., Fargo, ND 58103.

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  1. Apple Valley MN
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Gaffrey/Knier families in the passing of Ben. Words cannot express our loss!!

  2. New Rockford ND
    So sorry for the loss of your son, Ben. What a wonderfully talented young man. May your precious memories of Ben comfort each of you. Our deepest sympathies.

  3. Muskogee OklahomaMr. Knier and family,

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. You and your family are in my prayers.

    Kima Booker (Barnesville)

    “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

  4. Fargo ND
    God Bless you Frank and Mary our heart’s go out to you. I wish we would have been home to attend the funeral. We lost our daughter to depression in 1998.

    Love

    Mike and Cheryl Cameron

  5. Fargo Knier family,

    We are so sorry for your loss. Sending heartfelt condolences,

    God’s Peace be with you,

    Mohs Family

  6. St. Paul MN
    We are so sorry to hear about the loss of your son and brother. Please know that you are in our prayers. May Benjamin rest in the arms of our Lord and Mother Mary and may you all find deep consolation, peace and strength as Jesus holds you so tight to His cross.

  7. Rice MN
    Frank and Mary Pat and Cliff–
    You have our deepest sympathy.
    You are in our thoughts and prayers at this time. May God give you strength and keep you in His love and care during your time of sorrow. We will have Ben
    remembered in our Book of remembrance and prayer at our mass at Sacred Heart. With love Rocky and Mickey

  8. Maple Plain MN
    Dear Mary and Frank,
    We are heartbroken about your loss. We remember Ben as a warm young man, and know how devastating this is for everyone. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Love,
    Julie, John, Jenny and Andy Lesser

  9. My deepest and profound sympathy to you at this time. May God’s love provide you with peace and comfort. Ben is now an angel who will look down at you from Heaven. God bless all of you.

  10. I feel profound grief for the Knier family as I learned late last night of their tragic loss. I was Anna’s duo partner in college and met Benjamin just once. I will be in touch with Anna soon, but thought I would wait until the funeral. I am so so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine your insufferable pain. Sending love your way.

    Craig

  11. Fargo David and I were so sorry to hear of Ben’s death. I can’t imagine how hard it is to say goodbye to a son. May all of your memories sustain you and I pray that you find peace and strength in the coming days.

  12. Eagan MN
    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. This is such a tragedy. We also have much depression in the family and it is a very difficult disease to battle. I applaud you for posting that about your son. You also posted such a lovely tribute to your son. It is very obvious he was very loved and admired!! May your happy memories take your through these darkest moments. Much beauty can come from such great pain. Keep writing!! It is truly a gift you have.

  13. Fargo ND
    Mary and Frank, my heart goes out to you and your family. I remember Ben quietly walking through our condo hallways so early in the morning while delivering papers. He was always pleasant and polite. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  14. St Paul MN
    Frank,Mary & Family:
    Our deepest sympathy for your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Orin & Marilyn

  15. Mandan ND
    We are thinking of your family through such a difficult time. So very sorry to hear of your loss.

  16. ARDEN HILLS MN
    We are offering our prayers, Masses, and rosaries for the repose of Ben’s soul and that you may know the Lord’s comforting presence now and in the days to come.

  17. West Fargo ND
    Dear Mary, Frank and family:

    Nancy and I join your many friends in prayer and sympathy, for each of you. We pray that you be granted strength to endure the difficult time that you face. May warm memories give you comfort, and the promise of eternal life bring you peace.

    Tom and Nancy Boyle

  18. Bloomington MN
    Dear Frank and Mary, and family,

    We are deeply sorry for your loss. This is such a difficult time for all of you. Our prayers and thoughts are with you during this time.

    Dave and Pat
    Determan

  19. Fargo ND
    My prayers are with you and for you at this time of sorrow because of your loss, and gladness at the eternal peace your son now enjoys. Belief in God
    will carry you through the darkest of hours. God bless you all.

  20. St Cloud MN
    Frank and Mary. I was saddened to hear of the death of your son Ben. Your family has my heartfelt sympathy in your time of sorrow.

  21. Barnesville Minn Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. May you find the strength and comfort you need now to deal with your loss. Sometimes we dont know how the love of God works but it does. Again our condolences.
    Merlin and Pat Stromx

  22. Fullerton ND
    Mary and Frank, my thoughts and prayers are with you during this time of loss. May God bring you comfort.

  23. Dear Frank, Mary, and all the extended Family,

    We are so sorry to hear of your loss. I always feel it is so unfortunate to be far away at such significant times, whether happy or sad. We only know Ben from a distance, seeing him on occasion at family get togethers. This is our loss. Ben was obviously an outstanding young man. It appears to be a Knier tradition to produce such warm, sensitive, and good people.

    Our loving thoughts to each of you.

  24. Mary and family, I am SO sorry to hear of your loss. Words can’t express how we feel however, please remember that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Try to celebrate the years you did get to have with him — some people accomplish their mission on earth quicker than others, and it sounds like he did. Cherish those memories and may the Good Lord bring you all comfort and peace. God Bless you all.
    Cherie Storhoff

  25. I remember one day I was talking with Ben and a couple of other students in Spanish class. Somehow the topic came up about how would a person deal with a special needs child. I will never forget Ben’s answer. He said, “It’s simple. You would just love them.” That answer really showed his true heart and it has stayed with me ever since. Ben will be missed.
    -Sra. Petik

  26. Mary, Frank, Anna and Alexandra:
    May you find strength in the memories of your son and brother’s life. My prayers and thoughts are with you at this difficult time of loss. Sara Wick

  27. Casselton ND
    Sorry to hear of your loss. I can not imaging the pain. In our prayers and thoughts.

    Frank was my teacher in Barnesville MN

  28. Moorhead MN
    To the Knier family:
    I am so sorry to hear of the death of Ben. I had the privilege of working with Ben in the Art and Design department at MSUM and found him very delightful. He was a wonderful person and will be missed. Please take comfort that he is in our Lord’s protective hands now.

  29. Barnesville MN
    Knier Family,
    I am very sorry for your loss, I am thinking of you all and pray for healing and hope.
    Love to you all,
    Heidi (Zollar) Ernst

  30. Sioux Falls SdMr. Knier and family,

    I am deeply sorry abouth the loss of your son. Depression is a nasty disease. May you be comforted by the love and support around you. Blessings to you.

    Deb (farrell) snyder

  31. Saint Paul MN
    Dear Frank and Mary and Family:

    How sad we are to hear of the loss of Ben, who we remember so fondly from all those days by the dike. We were blessed to see him grow from boy to man. Ben was great playing with Jack, Otto and Max when we were home for the holidays. I remember particularly that he would lend the boys his skateboard so they could skate at Island Park. I also remember a warm sunny afternoon on the dike with Ben when he showed us his detailed art work. We are thinking of you and we hope that you are finding comfort surrounded by the love of your family and friends.

    Love, Stuart, Patricia and Jack

  32. Fargo ND
    Dear Mr Frank Knier and Family,
    Please accept our deepest sympathies for the loss of your son. We pray that The Lord will bring you and your family comfort and peace.
    Dr Manuel Otero and family