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Donald E. Knutson

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Donald E. Knutson Obituary
Donald E. Knutson

Great Falls —Don Knutson, 91, of Great Falls, passed away peacefully on July 28, 2014, at Peace Hospice from complications of Alzheimer's disease.

A celebration of life service will be held Monday, August 4, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at Faith Lutheran Church in its temporary location in the old Columbus Hospital chapel, located at 1601 Second Avenue North, Second Floor, in Great Falls.

Don was born on May 19, 1923 to Knute and Ida Knutson in Harlem, MT, baptized at Silver Bow Church and confirmed at the American Lutheran Church, both in Hogeland, MT. He graduated from Hogeland High School in 1941 and shortly thereafter married the love of his life, Helen Johnson, at the home of his sister, Mildred, in Havre, MT. Five children were born of this blessed union: Don, Duane, Dick, Dee and Diane. Don attended Northern Montana College in Havre and graduated from the University of Montana. Don became a teacher and taught multiple subjects in a small school in Hogeland. He and Helen and their family moved to Missoula and Don taught in Florence, MT. Later, they moved to Great Falls where he taught math at Paris Gibson Junior High and East Junior High. He cared deeply about his students and was a born teacher, utilizing practical applications such as teaching cribbage and other methods to make math more interesting, useful and even fun. Don retired from teaching in 1978 and he and Helen moved to Rollins, MT, on Flathead Lake. They attended Dayton Presbyterian Church and Faith Free Lutheran in Kalispell. In 2000, Don and Helen returned to Great Falls to be closer to family and likewise returned to Faith Lutheran Church.

In Don's earlier years, he loved sports and excelled in basketball, baseball, and hockey and later coached both basketball and baseball. Don's interests revolved primarily around his wife and his family and their activities. He was an excellent carpenter and built nine homes in his lifetime. Most of the homes he built were sold to allow each of his five children to start college at Concordia College, in Moorhead, MN, where all five graduated. Don always worked extra jobs to keep his large family comfortable. His hobbies included wood-working, fishing, and golfing with family and friends. He was a jack of all trades and could fix almost anything that was broken or in need of repair.

Second only to his faith and love of God was the magnitude of Don's love for his wife, Helen. Always together, they lived out their faith and their vows daily and were an exemplary example to their children of what faith and true love were all about. Don's favorite times were morning and afternoon "tea parties" where Helen would bake a scrumptious treat to be shared together along with these two Scandinavians' ever-present coffee! Don will also be remembered for his beautiful blue eyes, his incredible smile and even more incredible stories and laugh, which often had his family laughing so hard we were all reduced to tears! He will be sorely missed and most certainly never forgotten by his wife and family as his spirit is interwoven into the very fabric of our souls!

Don is survived by his loving wife of 71 years, Helen, of Great Falls; sons Dick (Martha) Knutson, of Corcoran, MN, and Dee (Janet) Knutson of Great Falls; daughter Diane (Rodger) Knutson-Gilmor, of Great Falls; and daughter-in-law Joanne Knutson, of Bigfork, MT. Other survivors include his nine grandchildren, Jeff Knutson, Jon (Jennifer) Knutson, Josh (Tasha) Knutson, Kären (Keith) Wain, Marc (Josie) Knutson, Kolter (Lucy) Knutson, Kendal Knutson (and her fiancé, Tyler Conley), Zach Gilmor, and Nathan Gilmor; and nine great-grandchildren.

Don was preceded in death by two sons, Don Knutson and Duane Knutson; and grandson Joseph Michael Knutson.

In lieu of flowers, Don's family requests memorials can be sent to Faith Lutheran Church Scholarship Foundation or Building Fund or a charitable organization of the donor's choice.

Condolences may be left online at

Published in Great Falls Tribune on Aug. 1, 2014
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