Raymond Vance Knutson, 82, of Spooner passed away on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire from complications while battling cancer. His family was at his side.
Raymond was born on November 23, 1938, in Rochester, Minnesota, the son of Carl “Engvald” and Vivian (Proud) Knutson. He was raised in Rochester and graduated from John Marshall High School in 1956. He graduated from Rochester Jr. College and attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis where he graduated with distinction, earning a degree in civil engineering.
On January 27, 1962, Ray was joined in marriage to Sara “Saucy” Stultz in Red Wing, Minnesota.
He went on to earn his master’s degree in engineering from the University of Minnesota, and they headed to San Francisco to begin their careers. After he worked two years with Standard Oil, they returned to live in Hastings, Minnesota, and he began work for Koch Oil Refining (Flint Hills Resources) in 1966. He became the chief environmental engineer and was the assistant plant manager for the last 20 years of his career, retiring in 1996. During his time there, he started programs to support education that have grown and still exist today.
They moved to Rosemount in 1986, and then built a house in Spooner. Ray’s adventurous spirit led him to purchase two Red Wing Shoe stores in Rochester, New York, and begin a second career.
Growing up, he was active in Boy Scouts. Later, as a resident of Hastings, he was very involved in the community and a member of the Jaycees, where he was treasurer, and from 1969 to 1970, president.
He and Sara bought a cabin in Spooner and enjoyed much family and project time there. They also enjoyed traveling to different parts of the country and winter trips to Florida. He loved cross country skiing, and completed several Birkebeiners and Vasaloppets in Mora, Minnesota. He also enjoyed biking, gardening, playing cards, golfing, history, and later, time with grandchildren and coffee with friends. He was a member of Spooner United Methodist Church. He always enjoyed a good western movie and was a loyal Minnesota Gopher and Viking fan.
After 45 years of marriage, Sara passed away in 2007.
On April 7, 2010, Ray married Shirley Wallace in Rochester, Minnesota. They lived in Spooner and enjoyed time together, gardening, movies, trips to the nursery, travel, cooking, cabin projects, and grandchildren.
Ray is survived by his wife, Shirley; two children, Karen (Michael) Griffith of Farmington, Minnesota, and Eric Knutson (Joy Caudill) of Minneapolis, Minnesota; two grandchildren, Sara and Natalie Griffith; two stepdaughters, Shannon (Tom) Bayerle of Forest Lake, Minnesota, Stephanie (Jim) Umberger of Milton, Georgia; grandchildren, Alexander, Ariana, Ethan and Isla Umberger, and Skylar Bayerle; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Sara; two sisters, Virginia Connelly and Myrna Gies; and one brother, Eline.
His time with family and friends were the most important thing to him, and his motto was “The best is yet to come.”
A memorial service will be held for Ray at 11 a.m. on Friday, September 17, at Spooner United Methodist Church with Pastor Ferdinand Serra officiating. A gathering of family and friends will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. at the church. Interment will be in Spooner Cemetery, with lunch immediately following at the church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Spooner United Methodist Church.
Online condolences may be left for Ray’s family at bratley-nelsonchapels.com.