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I n the mid 1960s, Roger and Janie Knopf moved to the quiet little hamlet of Morgan Hill, population 4,000 or thereabouts. Today, Morgan Hill is a bustling city of more than 40,000. The Knopfs are still here, and it’s people like them who have made Morgan Hill the kind of place that we’re all proud to call home. Flash back to the 1950s. Roger and Janie met and became friends in high school while they lived with their families in Los Gatos and Saratoga respectively. During his early school years Roger got involved in Future Farmers of America. His father purchased 70 acres in Morgan Hill to establish a family farm. Roger has great memories of weekends and summers when he and his younger brother worked in the prune orchards and learned the ins and outs of farming. Janie’s father was an airline pilot for Pan Am, which meant opportunities to travel. At age 12, Janie accompanied her mother and four siblings on a two-month trip around the world. Among her most vivid memories was Hong Kong, known during that era as “the pearl of the Orient.” When her father was transferred to England the family lived there for three years. Growing up, Janie enjoyed studying fine art and languages, played the flute, and competed on her school’s diving team. Whirlwind Beginnings It wasn’t until Roger and Janie were students at San José State University that they started dating. In 1964 they got married, Roger spent half the year in the Navy, and the couple moved to Morgan Hill – a whirlwind year for the young newlyweds. For the next six years, Roger managed the family’s Morgan Hill farm. Then in 1970, he decided to shift gears and obtain a contractor’s license. It was a natural transition as Roger had grown up around the Los Gatos-based build- ing construction business owned by his father and uncle, known as Knopf Brothers. Roger turned that career move into a successful 30-year building career that included many well known structures in South County. “I loved construction as much as I had loved farming,” Roger said. “We tackled projects from the ground up, from excavation to interiors. I was a carpenter by trade, but in the early years my dad sent me and my brother off on projects with various contractors to learn each trade. I decided to focus on local projects, from the building of South Valley National Bank in Gilroy to the construction of an “all-green” residential home with solar-powered electricity, solar hot water and radiant floor heating. A couple samples of Janie’s artwork. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2016 gmhtoday.com 49