Winifred Knutson

Winifred Blanche Stolzenburg Knutson, beloved wife of the late Ransom Knutson and cherished mother of Rosemary Knutson-Gonzalez passed away peacefully on July 30, 2012, at her home in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas.

Posted August 16, 2012

Winifred Blanche Stolzenburg Knutson, beloved wife of the late Ransom Knutson and cherished mother of Rosemary Knutson-Gonzalez passed away peacefully on July 30, 2012, at her home in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas. Winifred was born Oct. 15, 1917, in Spencer, Iowa; the youngest child of Henry and Minnie Stolzenburg.

Minnie, who as a single woman had homesteaded in rural South Dakota, imbued her children with a sense of adventure, courage, honesty, and an appreciation for learning that guided Winifred throughout her life. While a teenager in the 1930s, Winifred joined her brother Lew and sister Edna on a car trip through Mexico where they forded rivers and encountered bandoleros. This same sense of adventure and interest in history and the peoples of the world led her to far-flung locales, including visiting pyramids in Egypt and Mesoamerica, traveling behind the Iron Curtain before Communism fell in Eastern Europe, crossing the Andes by boat in southern Chile, and spending the night in the former villa of Madame Mao Zedong in China.

Winifred was a teacher by vocation and avocation. Her teaching career led her to Ralph, S.D., where she met Ransom Knutson, whom she described as her “world.” They married in 1942.

In 1952, a child, Rosemary, was added to their world. Winifred supported Ransom in all his endeavors, be it farming, selling insurance, campaigning, or benefiting others through his directorship on numerous cooperative boards.

She helped Ransom prepare his testimony concerning the needs of rural America which he presented to a Congressional committee. Winifred was the proverbial woman behind the man. That world with Ransom ended with his death in 1980.

Although Winifred’s formal career as a teacher had ended after her marriage, she continued throughout her life to search and learn, sharing her knowledge and wisdom with others. She promoted new ideas and creative ways through her own actions. Winifred was interested in almost everything, from history to interior design, from oil painting to gardening, from sewing to playing the piano, from politics to recipes.

She crocheted her way through China in 1982, attracting the attention of many Chinese women interested in the art. She was keenly interested in alternative-complementary medicine, improving the lives of those less fortunate, stewardship of the environment, and the welfare of animals. She was dedicated to living in concert with nature and seeking a balance and harmony with all God’s creatures.

Even though life took Winifred far from her roots in the Dakotas, she remained steadfastly loyal to her family and friends. She still participated in a letter sharing “round robin” started with her college friends as they embarked upon their teaching careers in the 1930s.

She always was interested in and concerned about the well-being of her family and friends, and the folks back home. She overcame many obstacles, including cancer and heart disease. Winifred faced her 18-year journey through the ravages of Parkinson’s disease with courage and dignity, more concerned about others than about herself.

Those celebrating this kind and gentle lady include her daughter Rosemary and son-in-law Armando Gonzalez of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas; niece Samarade Otis of Aberdeen, S.D.; nephew Rod Nibbe and his wife Maxine of Mandan, N.D.; as well as other relatives and friends around this great land she so loved.

Burial of Winifred’s ashes next to Ransom in the Ralph Lutheran Cemetery will be at a later date.