Edna “Jean” Knutson, 100, 2207 North Shore Dr., Clear Lake, died Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, at the Oakwood Care Center, Clear Lake. According to her wishes her body has been cremated.
A Memorial service will be held noon on Saturday, July 26, 2014, at the First Congregational Church, 205 W. 10th Ave. N., Clear Lake, with Rev. Brian Harris officiating. A private inurnment was held at the Clear Lake Cemetery.
Jean was born June 11, 1913, in Clear Lake, the daughter of Burtis H. and Annette (Jackson) Matthews, the youngest of five children. Her father was a mail clerk for the M. and St. L. Railroad and a fond childhood memory was walking to the train station with her mother to take her father his lunch. In high school, she was active in the drama club, where she won first place at a state competition, she was a Red Cross Lifesaving instructor, and she was a CLHS cheerleader all four years. She graduated from Clear Lake High School in 1930 and attended one year at Grinnell College. She graduated from Hamilton’s Business School in Mason City and worked for a coal company there until her wedding.
Jean married Dr. Milton LeRoy Knutson on June 30, 1935 at the First Congregational Church in Clear Lake. After their marriage, they moved to Elkader, Iowa, where LeRoy started his optometry career. In Elkader, she became a Campfire Girls leader, was active in a “study” club and a bridge club, and joined the Elkader Little Theatre, taking several plays to Iowa City competitions. Both sons were born there, Gordon in 1940, and Eric in 1943. They moved back to Clear Lake in 1946 when LeRoy joined his father in practice in Mason City, Iowa. The depression years in Elkader were a special time for the couple, where they made friendships that lasted throughout their lives.
Jean didn’t take long to get into the local theater scene. She acted in several plays for the Clear Lake Woman’s Club, including “Overtones”, “Down to Earth”, “Gray Bread”, and “The Mad Woman of Chaillot”, in which she played the lead role. “Overtones” received the highest rating at state competition and she received rave reviews from the local critics for “Mad Woman”. She joined the Mason City Little Theater for a production of “The Crucible” in 1961 and was a cast member in a Cobblestone Players Summer Theater production of “Mornings at 7”.
She belonged to the Elementary School PTA and served as its president. She was a member of Woman’s Club, serving as its president, the Order of Eastern Star, Today’s Club, Crescent Club, Chapter EA, P.E.O., and “Bookies”, a local book group. Jean and Doc and the boys were members of the CL Yacht Club from the early 50’s on and enjoyed several years of active racing, judging, and socializing with other sailors. She was also a strong supporter of the Clear Lake Library and served on its board for 13 years. Jean has a lifelong membership at the First Congregational Church, served on many committees, and was one of the “angel makers” for the annual Christmas bazaar for several years. She and “Doc” wintered in Mesa, Az. for 18 years and loved driving through the southwest. They took several overseas trips and never tired of seeing new places and meeting new people. She loved reading, knitting, crossword puzzles and looking out her bay window at the lake she loved so dearly. She continued those activities avidly until later years when failing vision took its toll.
Jean is survived by her son, Eric H. Knutson and his wife, Patricia, Newport, Ore.; daughter-in-law, Julia Knutson, Seabrook, Tex.; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Jean was preceded in death by her parents; husband, LeRoy, May 1, 1998; son, Gordon, Jan. 17, 2000; brothers, Harold, Jack and Roderick Matthews; and a sister, Helen Conklin.
Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel, Clear Lake, was in charge of arrangements.