Danita Annataria Knickerbocker was born in her home in Grantsville, Utah on the snowy eve of December 8, 1994. Her parents, by gifting her this rare and beautiful name after her grandmother, ensured that Danita would be unlike any other and that she would approach her life with a boundless sense of curiosity, adventure and courage. She was always on a quest for the novel, the beautiful, the unusual, especially if the pursuit of those things gave her a worthy challenge. She was uninterested in the mundane or the ordinary.
Born the eighth of eleven children in a busy and productive home she developed keen, essential survival skills that served her well throughout her life. She assumed much of the responsibility for her younger siblings and was as loving and protective of them as any mother could have been. This nurturing of her brothers and sister early in life refined her natural leadership abilities that would shape her future. She had a special gift with children. She loved them and they loved her. She possessed boundless energy and a childlike sense of wonder and play. She was a favorite of all her nieces and nephews. She also adopted many other nieces and nephews and called them her own.
As a child she developed a deep and abiding passion for music. When she was twelve years old she won a singing competition in the age bracket that included 12-24 year-olds. This was no surprise to those who knew her, but certainly a surprise to her! She went on to audition for The Voice and America’s Got Talent and create many more musical moments. She especially loved her time singing with the Treasure Valley Children’s Chorus and the Premier Singers. Her exquisite voice was featured on several professional recordings that were posted to YouTube. All those who heard these recordings were inspired and uplifted.
Her determination and grit made her unafraid of ambitious and lofty goals and her work ethic, talent and intelligence guaranteed that she would achieve them. Her independence and confidence were the product of her upbringing.
She always wanted to serve in the military for multiple reasons including to defend freedoms that she held dear. In order to do that, she took academics seriously and graduated from Parma High School two years early. Not long after High School she contracted with ROTC, as a way to pay for her university studies and advance herself in the Army. She studied at both Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2017. She loved the military and thrived in the well-ordered and disciplined environment. She held multiple leadership positions in ROTC and became platoon captain. She was only a few months away from commissioning in the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant when she was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, which was quite the blow to her dream of serving long term in the military.
After some time fighting cancer, Danita was hired by the TSA. She was promoted 5 times during her tenure and was on her way to Indianapolis for yet another promotional opportunity when she was taken seriously ill. One of her great regrets is that she didn’t have the privilege of working with her dear Indianapolis friends whom she immediately loved and who had been so kind and welcoming to her.
Danita had the beautiful affliction of wanderlust. She took trips to Norway, Ireland, Alaska, Cancun and many other destinations and never lost her passion and enthusiasm for far-off places. Those who traveled with her say she was the ultimate road trip partner. She made everything easy, comfortable and fun with her infectious enthusiasm and good humor.
Above all Danita loved her friends, her family and her faith. She referred to her friends as “her family”. All those who knew her spoke of her loyalty, generosity and kindness. She was beautiful inside and out. Her countenance shone with the light of Christ. Ultimately her dedication to her faith was her crowning achievement. It is worth noting that most of her journal entries over the past couple years were letters to her Heavenly Father. She spoke directly to Him as one does an intimate friend. She knew God and He knew her. She died peacefully in her sleep on February 17, 2022. Her life is her lasting tribute and final love letter to Him.
Danita is survived by her parents, John and Gail Knickerbocker; her siblings and their spouses, Jean-Michel (Anna), Joseph (Vanessa), Nalihda Cardinelle, Rex (Maryam), Jarna (Kiel) Knuteson, Gabriel (Kimberly), Samuel (Sharlie), Afton (Breanna), Heidi, and Shane; her nieces and nephews Zavier, Laneah, Asher, Caleb, Aliya, Brent, Joselyn, Oakley, AnnaMarie, Seth, Abigail, Gabriel, Melissa, Mason, Neelon, Haaken, Halsten, Tinsley, Charlotte, Weston, Declan, Quincy, and almost-here Paige; her grandparents Danita Benson, Beth Knickerbocker, and Pat (Robert) Henning, along with many aunts, uncles, cousins, and adopted family members. She was preceded in death by Grandfathers William ”Bill” Knickerbocker, John Powell, Alvin “Bud” Benson, and Darwin Teos.
Visit Danitaknickerbocker.com for Memorial Service information Zoom and to listen to her music.