Marilyn Knutson: Supporting Education and Providing Hospitality at PLU

Marilyn (Force) Knutson

Growing up, Marilyn (Force) Knutson remembers that if you earned a dollar, a dime always went into the offering plate. It was just how her father, a Lutheran minister, raised the kids.

That deep sense of giving back is still a guiding force in Marilyn’s life, as she was preparing for the seventh-annual David and Marilyn Knutson Lecture, which has taken place on the Pacific Lutheran University campus since 2006. The lectureship brings to campus nationally recognized scholars in theology to ask the tough questions about contemporary challenges. This past year’s lecture took place in October.

David Knutson ’58, a longtime member of the religion faculty, taught at Pacific Lutheran University for more than 20 years. David and Marilyn met at PLU in the 1950s, married, and when David left for New York City as a Rockefeller Fellow, Marilyn followed. She completed her teaching degree from the University of Minnesota in 1960. For the next 32 years, Marilyn taught the K-6 set while David focused on college students.

The couple has given to Q Club Scholarships through the PLU Annual Fund, but the giving continued past the checkbook. For decades, the Knutson apartment, just off Wheeler Street near campus, has acted as a way station for visiting lecturers, professors, organists, students and parents.

Loren and MaryAnn Anderson stayed at the home in 1992 when they first came to PLU while the Gonyea House was being renovated. A guestbook shows signatures from travelers all over the world, in all languages, thanking the Knutsons for their hospitality.

After David died in 2004, Marilyn contemplated setting up a scholarship in his honor. But former provost and friend, Patricia O’Connell Killen, suggested that Marilyn sponsor a lectureship instead. After consulting with her financial advisor, John Aakre, she realized a lectureship was a possibility. Marilyn has provided for the lectureship in perpetuity with a gift in her will.

“David loved lectures,” Marilyn says. “So this makes sense.”

Support What You Love Into the Future
If you would like to learn about the many ways you can plan a gift to support the students and programs important to you at Pacific Lutheran University, contact PLU Gift Planning at 253-535-7177 today.

By Barbara Clements