Herbert “Bert” Knauf, MD ’92, met Jodi Jones on a plastic surgery rotation at UF. She was in her final year of physician assistant studies, and he was completing his fourth year of medical school. After some time of long-distance dating, they were married in 1994.
“There was no one like Jodi. People were drawn to her energy and to what her friends affectionately coined ‘Jodi spirit.’ She was generous, caring and altruistic. She spent her life helping people live well,” Knauf said.
Jodi was an avid Gator fan, known for her proud support for her alma mater. She received her bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from UF in 1978. After working as a certified hand therapist for more than 12 years, she decided to go back to UF to become a physician assistant, a career she embraced for 16 years.
“She was very passionate about her work. She really loved it,” Knauf said.
In 2000, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after undergoing a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, she was cancer-free. In 2008, the cancer recurred in her liver and bones. After years of more chemotherapy, she passed away in 2015.
“Jodi was a fighter,” Knauf said. “She fought this battle with breast cancer for 15 years. She did all of this for our daughter, Rachel, who was truly her pride and joy — her ‘beautiful musical girl.’”
After her death, it was important to the family to make good things come of the experience. Knauf, an ophthalmologist, and Jodi’s parents, Doris “Dodo” and Glenn Jones, wanted to give back to UF in her name to something she would appreciate. They established the Jodi Jones Knauf Scholarship.
“The endowed scholarship is a legacy that goes on and on and is going to help lots of students over many years,” Knauf said.
The Jodi Jones Knauf Scholarship supports medical and physician assistant students at the UF College of Medicine. It is awarded in multi-year cycles, so that the scholarship is given to a physician assistant for two years, then to a medical student for four years, rotating thereafter.
Knauf hopes the scholarship will not only honor his wife’s memory and her unbreakable spirit, but that it will also encourage students to give back when they have an opportunity to do so.
“That is her legacy,” Knauf said. “Giving and making other people’s lives better. Something we should all strive for.”