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Memories from the Heart

Irene Knapp

Former wife of Iowa real estate developer Bill Knapp

(founder of Iowa Realty and Knapp Properties).

Mother of  ATP tennis professional

Roger Knapp (1959-2008).

She is a beloved and well-known Des Moines resident with a life-long public legacy of active support for local sports, non-profits, community resources, women's organizations, and volunteerism.


Her private legacy is that of a driving force behind the successful careers of two men she loved.

This is her story.

(see excerpt below)


After Ginny was married and gone from home, and Roger was out in California, Bill and I had more time together and we socialized with other couples: dinners, trips to Florida, and even longer trips abroad. It was nice to be able to start enjoying some of the fruits of our efforts after so many years of working hard to build our family and our life.


Maybe that's when I had more time to notice things that were going on. I was happy, and I thought Bill was happy too. We didn't fight or argue, and he was always good to me. I'm not sure I'll ever understand why he felt the need to go elsewhere or let anyone come between us, but that's what happened. 


I started to notice some things that didn't make sense, and he wasn't doing a very good job of explaining them. During a trip to Paris we took with his brother and sister-in-law one time, I opened the dresser drawer in our hotel room and found a brand new watch in a box with the receipt still attached. It was a beautiful lady's watch but I knew it wasn't for me because he'd given me one recently. 

Something compelled me to get out my camera and freeze this moment forever in my memory. I took a photo of the watch. It's one of the only photos I ever took that didn't have a person posing in it or wasn't intended to recall a pleasant memory of a cherished time.

When I asked Bill about the watch, he said he'd bought it for his brother Paul to give to his wife. I didn't believe him. I still have the photo.


There were other signs. Business trips started to become more frequent and the details were always vague. He even started suggesting we take separate vacations so we could each do what we enjoyed most. This seemed odd to me because what I enjoyed most was being with my husband. 

It was happening around the same time that I was spending a lot of my time out in California looking after Roger, which I guess created an opportunity, but it doesn't excuse it. Even when Bill came out there with me a few times, he made up business trips close by in San Diego, and he left me at the house in La Jolla with Roger, while he went off to San Diego for a few days. 

I didn't try to deny what I was feeling. I did talk to Bill about it and told him what I was thinking. But he  brushed it off as if it was my imagination. I could see that it was one particular woman whose name seemed to be part of the story every time something was suspicious to me. She and her husband were friends of ours, and we socialized together. We dined at their home. They vacationed with us in Florida. Because of her job, she was closely involved in many of Bill's real estate related transactions. And she seemed to figure prominently in every event that would take Bill out of the city for a few days. Whenever I felt something was odd, that same name was part of the story. 

As hard as this was for me to acknowledge, I couldn't turn a blind eye. Her husband was also aware, and he was devastated. He came to me for support, asking me to try and help him understand why this was happening. I couldn't explain it. I only knew I couldn't put up with it.

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