Jan Kniffen


Although I wasn't born in Cairo like most of my classmates, I did go through all twelve years of public school in Cairo, after moving to town at the age of five. My father had been transferred to Cairo by the Missouri Pacific Railroad. We arrived from Hurst (near Herrin or Marion or Carbondale, take your pick.)

I went to Safford grade school, before CJHS and CHS. The two major events in my high school life were the motorcycle wreck that kept me out of the first six weeks of my senior year and the motorcycle wreck that took Sammy Dewey's life six weeks before graduation.

I went off to the University of Illinois in the fall of 1966, and on to SIU, picking up a bachelors and most of a masters in Journalism before I entered the USAF as a 2nd Lt.

In 1969 I married Vicki Axelson ('67). We were divorced in 1972, the same year I came off of active duty.

By 1973 I was working in St. Louis for ACF Industries, a Fortune 300 manufacturing company. In 1975 I married Janet Rohn, a native of St. Louis. We have two lovely daughters, Julie, a corporate attorney for NEXTEL, and Natalie, a renal dietician. Julie and Natalie are both married and live in St. Charles county near us. Julie has a two year-old son, Beau, our first and only granchild. (More to come, I'm sure.)

I spent 12 years with ACF. In 1982 ACF was "raided" by Carl Icahn. I spent a couple of years in New York reporting to the treasurer of Icahn and Company. Along the way I had picked up an MBA in Finance, and I am part of the way to a doctorate in finance at St. Louis University.

In 1985 I returned to St. Louis to be the director of corporate finance for The May Department Stores Company (Lord & Taylor, Hecht's, Strawbridge's, Foley's, Robnsons-May, Filene's, Kaufmann's, Famous-Barr, L. S. Ayres, The Jones Store, Meier&Frank;, ZCMI, and David's Bridal.) In 1986 I became vice president and treasurer, and in 1991 I became a senior vice president.

My hobbies haven't changed. I still ride motorcycles, drive fast cars, and target shoot. (I don't hunt or fish much anymore, but I still like to.) I also hike and bicycle, a lot. I write lots of bad poetry and read even more than I did in high school.

My accompanying picture was taken a couple of years ago after I had hiked up from the floor of the Grand Canyon. I'm sitting on the north rim at sunset.