Archived Story

Orray M. Knutson, 88, St. Ansgar, Iowa

Published 10:35am Thursday, October 4, 2012

Orray M. Knutson, 88, of St. Ansgar, Iowa, died on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, at the Mitchell County Regional Health Center in Osage, Iowa.

Orray M. Knutson was born May 22, 1924, in St. Ansgar Township to Otto Knutson and Myra Ruth (Warrington) Knutson. He had three brothers, Harold, Avery and Otto Jr., and four sisters, Beaula, Minerva, Shirley and Genevieve. Orray grew up on “Meadowbrook Farm,” which had been bought and traded for a pair of Morgan horses in payment of a debt owed to his grandfather in 1864.

Orray served in the Army Air Corps for three years. After boot camp he was qualified as a radio operator and gunner on a B-17 flying fortress. He had orders to deploy to Europe when the war ended and he was discharged shortly after the war ended.

Before leaving the air base in Rapid City, S.D., he met Lucille Grebner. They were married on June 14, 1946. To this union were born six children: Mary (Randy) Navratil of Story City, Iowa, Ruth (Scott) Ulland, of Austin, Carol (Mark) Callahan, of Center Point, Iowa, Lee Ann (Ken) Soma, of Mason City, Iowa, Ken (Dawn) Knutson of Albuquerque N.M., and Lois (Ross) Whitlock of Hampton, Va.

Orray worked at the butcher shop for several years after the war. He was then offered the chance to move back to the family farm where he and Lucille raised their family. Orray greatly enjoyed music. He joined the Forte Milers barbershop chorus in Leroy, Minn., and also sang with a quartet for several years. He passed on this love of music to his children. Every child in the family played at least one instrument and most sang as well.

In 1964 Orray went to work as a carpenter in addition to farming, which influenced the rest of his life. With the assistance of the guys in the neighborhood and his kids, Orray built a camper and later created a campground out of a corner of the farm which provided family entertainment for the neighborhood for many years.

Orray became involved in the American Legion during the post “great war era.” World War II vets dominated the hall and were present at all the events: Fourth of July celebrations, Memorial Day, funerals, weekly meetings, etc. Orray always felt a camaraderie at the Legion that can only be understood by other veterans. This continued into his retirement, when he was the secretary for many years. He always provided a yearly Legion membership to the many members of his family who had served in the military.

Orray passed away on Oct. 2, 2012, following an extended illness. He was proceeded in death by his parents and five siblings. He is survived by his wife, Lucy; six children and their spouses; 17 grandchildren; several step-grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; many step-great grandchildren; one sister, Minerva; and one brother, Otto.

Funeral service will be on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, at 11 a.m. at the First Lutheran Church in St. Ansgar, with the Rev. Paul Weeg and the Rev. Lance Kittleson officiating. Burial will be on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. at the First Lutheran Cemetery. Visitation is scheduled for Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Schroeder & Sites Funeral Home, St. Ansgar, and one hour prior to the service at the church. Military honors will be conducted by the Walter T. Enneberg Post No. 358 of the American Legion, St. Ansgar.

Sign in to Comment | Need help commenting? Click here

Editor's Picks