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Appleton's Mel Knoke named 1st honoree for Packers Fan 'Hall'

Posted Dec 29, 1998

All of the ballots are in and the first honoree for the newly founded Green Bay Packers FAN Hall of Fame has been duly elected.

Appleton's venerable Melvin "Mel" Knoke, the possessor of imposing credentials, is the inaugural honorary fan.

The 91-year-old Knoke, nominated by the Appleton Post-Crescent and the Rotary Club of Appleton, may well be unmatched in all of Packerland in length of commitment and depth of loyalty. He has attended all but a dozen Packers home games over the past 71 years, having launched his allegiance to the Green and Gold in 1927 when President Calvin Coolidge was in the White House.

As Mel noted in his essay entry, his late wife Leone was his girlfriend when she accompanied him in his Model T Ford to Green Bay's City Stadium for the first time - and she was his wife of 64 years when they attended their last game together at Lambeau Field on the frigid afternoon of January 12, 1997, a day on which the Packers defeated the Carolina Panthers for the NFC Championship and earned the right to meet - and defeat - the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.

The longtime owner of four Packers season tickets, Knoke has used them to introduce many others to the "Lambeau Experience," having entertained more than 275 different individuals at games in Lambeau Field over the past seven decades.

Of late, this has been an especially rewarding experience for his guests. Since he no longer drives a car, they now accompany him to games in the comfort of a limousine he rents for each home game.

Mel also wears his loyalty daily - a homemade wooden Packer bowtie he sports nearly every waking moment.

In recent years, he has brought himself - and the Packers - national attention by way of an NFL Properties Commercial which featured him on camera, announcing, "My name is Mel Knoke, and I feel the power."

Packers fans were asked to vote on the top ten finalists whose stories best represented all Packers fans. In addition to Knoke, they included Ellen Dahl, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.; Kathleen Mitten, Plymouth, Wis.; John O'Neill, Madison, Wis.; Patricia Pleuss, Wauwatosa, Wis.; Judy Russell, Oshkosh, Wis.; Lyn Schneider, Sheboygan, Wis.; Jim Sneed, Waukesha, Wis.; Laurie Swartz, Sussex, Wis.; and Joe Unger, Milwaukee, Wis.

In honor of being selected to represent all fans as the inaugural honorary fan, Knoke will be recognized on the Lambeau Field JumboTron during the first home Packers game in 1999. He also will receive four club seats, a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate and a road trip for two to a 1999 Packers away game (including game tickets, airfare and hotel accommodations). In addition, he also will attend and be recognized at the Packer Hall of Fame Induction Dinner in March and be permanently recognized in the Packer Hall of Fame.

The FAN Hall of Fame has been established by the Green Bay Packers and Packer Hall of Fame and is exclusively sponsored by True Value Hardware Stores, Roundy's Pick'n Save Grocery Stores, Shopko, Milwaukee Area Lazy Boy Stores and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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