Mark Stephen Knutson

Published 2:22 pm Friday, November 12, 2021

Oct. 4 2021 On a beautiful fall day quietly visiting with his daughter-in-law and enjoying a view of Mt Rainier over the Puget Sound, Mark Knutson, 80, peacefully passed away. His heart was full of joy and love from recent visits with all of his children and grandchildren.

Mark was born in Red Wing, Minnesota to Melford and Orla Knutson. He was the third of four children (Phil, Mary and Paul). The family moved to Albert Lea, Minnesota where he grew up with best friend, Jan. They met in kindergarten when young Mark spied Jan from across the room and gave to her his cookie at snack time (according to their mothers Orla and Crystal Gorder).

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Mark and Jan were married in Albert Lea, MN in 1963 following their graduation from St Olaf College and later moved to Brooklyn, New York for Mark’s internship year in seminary. This was the first of the many places where they served as pastor and teacher while raising their family. Mark and Jan’s “hobby” completely revolved around people and they carried many deep friendships in Chippewa Falls, WI, Hoffman Estates, Ill., Bemidji, MN, Thousand Oaks and San Marcos, CA, and Olympia, WA. With his compassion, kind heart and sense of humor he touched the lives of many in campus ministry and in his parishes. Mark had a gift for making people feel special, seen and supported. It was common to hear Papa say, “I met a new friend at ________!” (Costco, the gas station, you name it.)

Mark loved music. He was a classical pianist and accompanied the choir in high school. Mark and his brother Phil played many concerts together. Mark also loved all things jazz, and he could tell you the best places for live music and happy hours up and down the west coast. He was always orchestrating activities, be it to the jazz club, on one of their many trips or going to theater.

Mark loved his family above all. He was proud of his children and four grandchildren and took delight in their activities and daily lives. As Mark transitioned to memory care in this recent spring his nature of gratitude and resilience remained. He never hesitated to say those three powerful words: “I love you.”

Mark is survived by his three children, Jim Knutson (Debbie), Chris Sogn (Kristi), Molly Knutson-Keller (Doug); four grandchildren, Jasper, Betsy, Dexter and Satchel; in-laws Jim and Polly Gorder, Carol Gorder, Marsha Knutson; and many beloved nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held on November 27, 2021 at 1:00 pm at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church ( and to the Artist Trust ( More information found at Caring Bridge (