Computers and technology quickly became second nature to Lisa Knowles, born on March 28, 1965 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the second child of Walter and Betty Knowles.
She led a typical childhood, with one exception - she loved to take things apart. No matter what the size or complexity, she could disassemble and reassemble anything. Her love of seeing how things worked spawned other interests in mechanical engineering and architecture. But these were not the fields Lisa would settle upon. She found an intense fascination with computer software. Lisa could read a program language once, understand it, and begin coding. As technology improved, so did the quantity of her computers. Her "command center" looked like it could rival NASA.
When Lisa wasn't on the computer, she could be found traveling to exotic islands with her friends, writing poetry, and penning romantic plays. Lisa was an accomplished flute, guitar, and keyboard player. She began to teach herself the violin.
Lisa was an avid race car fan. Whether it was Formula One or NASCAR's Winston Cup, you would find Lisa in front of the TV on race day. She loved # 24 Jeff Gordon and had followed his career prior to his entrance into the Winston Cup. Lisa's room looked like a shrine to Jeff. Many an afternoon Lisa would spend on the phone with her brother discussing strategies and tactics.
Lisa had many dreams in her life. One of them was to buy her own house. She fulfilled that dream with a beautiful home in Alpharetta, Georgia. But the other dreams Lisa had would remain just that. In 1996 Lisa was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.
She returned to Virginia for the love and support of her family and friends. Her world of independence and freedom now turned into dependence and humility. It was hard for Lisa to adjust to the new lifestyle. But she did so with grace, dignity, and many tears.
Lisa's computer ability coupled with today's technology sustained a modicum of her former independence. She was able to peruse the Internet, obtain e-mail, and watch TV. Lisa was still programming right up to her last day on earth.
Lisa's brightest and fondest moment during the last five years was when she received an autograph from Jeff Gordon and a personal sympathy card signed by both Jeff and his wife offering their prayers. Her last race day saw her man "Jeffy Poo" win.
Lisa was a prisoner inside her own body. But her stubbornness and desire to live was an inspiration to all who knew her. She may not have been able to fulfill her life's dreams on earth, but she will be able to fulfill them in heaven.