Russell Knapp graduated from Coe in 1930 with a bachelor’s in economics and business. He was captain of the undefeated 1929 and 1930 Midwest Conference champion tennis team and a two-time city tennis champion in the 1940s. He was inducted into Coe’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.
In 1938, Russell founded Securities Corporation of Iowa, which became a fixture in the Cedar Rapids business community before it was sold to Wells Fargo in 2001. He was elected to the Coe Board of Trustees in 1969, a position in which he served actively until 1978, when he became a life member.
Russell and his wife, Louise Northcott Knapp ’32, established the endowed Knapp-Northcott Fund for Scholars and International Relations at Coe. Over the years, Russell’s civic involvement included St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, the United Way of East Central Iowa, the YMCA and Camp Wapsie Y, St. Luke’s Hospital, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club, the YWCA and the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra. As a tribute to his generosity, Russell was honored by the National Society of Fund Raising Executives at Eastern Iowa’s Philanthropy Day luncheon in 1996.
In 2000, Russell was inducted as an inaugural laureate into the Junior Achievement of East Central Iowa Business Hall of Fame. Also in 2000, Russell and Louise received the Culture’s Alive award from the Cedar Rapids Area Cultural Alliance.
In 2006, he was awarded the Coe College Alumni Award of Merit. He was awarded Coe College’s highest and most distinguished honor, The Founders’ Medal, in 2001.