Charles Richard Knowles Jr.

Charles Richard Knowles Jr., age 81, died suddenly of natural causes at his home in Somis, CA, on Monday December 12th, 2022.

Richard, born in 1941 to Charles and Ruth Knowles in Wadsworth, OH, grew up on a series of farms in southeastern Ohio. Richard earned his bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering with a minor in creative writing from Marietta College in 1963 and a master’s in petroleum engineering in 1965 from the University of Texas while playing college football and spending his summers roughnecking on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico to pay his own way.
After graduation Richard worked for the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) for more than 32 years as a drilling engineer, manager and as an executive. Richard holds several patents related to drilling near the north pole in arctic conditions and developed proactive environmental and safety policies at the company. Richard would eventually lead the company’s international drilling operations and pioneered environmentally sensitive drilling operations from the Gulf of Alaska to the Ecuadorian rainforest.

Later, Richard would lead the Environmental Health and Safety group where he took an aggressive and innovative approach toward environmental remediation.

In 1996, Richard helped form and then lead the partially independent ARCO Environmental Remediation LLC. After retirement from ARCO in 1998, he founded Clearwater Management Group, a consulting organization focused on environmental management and remediation techniques including waste disposal through deep-well injection methods that Richard pioneered while at ARCO. Starting in 2000, Richard and his wife Marie Knowles purchased, refurbished, and ran Spirit Equestrian Center and a nearby avocado orchard in Somis, CA.
A renaissance man and avid outdoorsman of many talents outside of his professional career, Richard took great pride in doing things for himself and in knowing how to do them well. A vastly truncated list of his interests and skills included archery, blacksmithing, boatbuilding, brewing, bushcraft, construction, cooking, curing, farming, fly-fishing, foraging, gardening, gunsmithing, horseback riding, hunting, marksmanship, sailing, scuba diving, silversmithing, skiing, storytelling, trapping and woodworking. Of all of Richard’s multitude of talents and achievements, however, he was most proud of his role as a father.
When his youngest son left home for college in 2005, he off-handedly noted that he had been raising kids in his house for 40 years. Richard was renowned among friends and family for telling yarns, tall tales, and sometimes outright myths, but the proudest and most heartfelt of his stories always involved his sons and grandchildren.

Along with a strong moral character, diligent work ethic, love of the natural world, uncanny affinity with animals, and a lifelong infatuation with learning, Richard passed on a legacy of intense caring for loved ones to his children and all the others that he mentored throughout his life.
Richard is survived by his wife of 40 years Marie L. Knowles; his sister Sarah Knowles; his four stepchildren Scott, Randall, Diane, and Sheryl; his “middle two-boys” Derrick and Curtis Knowles; and his “younger two-boys” Gavin and Alden Knowles; as well as his four grandchildren Cooper, Madison, Virginia, and Arthur Richard Knowles.

Richard did not practice any organized religion and hated to be in a crowd, but a celebration of his life will be held for close family and friends who wish to remember him and retell one of the many stories from his incredibly vivid life. Richard’s ashes will be scattered by the family at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers in Alaska this summer.