Knut Wefald

Knut Wefald died peacefully at St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee, MN, the morning of April 13, 2018. He had pneumonia. Knut was 92 years old, and in the last ten days of his life, was surrounded by family, love and stories.

A Celebration of Life is planned for Saturday, July 14 at 11:00 a.m., with visitation starting at 9:30 am, at Ballard-Sunder Funeral & Cremation, 833 Marschall Road in Shakopee, MN. Interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Memorials preferred to American Macular Degeneration Foundation, Lions Gift of Sight (to whom Knut donated his eyes for macular degeneration research), or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Knut was born in Washington, D.C. to Magnus and Verna Wefald. The family was temporarily living in DC while Magnus attended law school and clerked for his father, Knud Wefald, the Farmer-Labor Representative in Congress from Minnesota’s 9th district from 1923 to 1927.

Back in Minnesota, Knut grew up in Hawley. The family lived in town, where Magnus had his law office, but they also owned a sheep ranch. Knut spent every spring on the ranch during lambing season, and worked summers there with his brothers, Harold and Martin, doing the farming with teams of horses. He loved the hard, physical work, and considered becoming a farmer himself.

Instead, Knut enlisted in the Navy right out of high school, serving as a radio/radar operator on the USS Coughlan in the Pacific theater. After the war, he went to the North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo (now NDSU) on the GI Bill. It was there that Knut met the love of his life, Lillian Jensen, who had also served in the Navy. Their first date was 70 years ago this April, and they married just five months later.

Knut got an engineering degree and spent most of his career as an aeronautical engineer for Honeywell in Minneapolis. He worked on some special military projects, including the Canadian Avro Arrow and the experimental German VTOL VJ-101, and later on commercial aircraft, including the Boeing 777. Because of Knut’s international assignments, the family lived in Canada, Germany and Sweden, and those were good times. Knut loved his work, and the family enjoyed the excitement of living abroad.

Knut worked hard, and he played hard, too. He was an outdoor enthusiast who enjoyed biking, hiking, skiing, camping, canoeing, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, soaring, and caving. His children, wife, grandchildren and siblings were often his companions on his many adventures.

Always the engineer, Knut quantified everything, from the laps he swam before work each day, to the miles he rode his bike each year, to the horsepower he expended on a hike. More than once, he hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim. In retirement he regularly took 40 mile rides on his bike, amassing thousands of miles a year. He camped deep in national forests. He explored and mapped caves in Northern Iowa.  He led white-water canoe trips for the Sierra Club. Into his 80’s he regularly kayaked the entire 16-mile perimeter of Prior Lake. He climbed Devil’s Tower in Wyoming in the 70’s and when he was in his 70’s, climbed Mt. Hood, the tallest peak in Oregon, and Mauna Kea, the tallest peak in Hawaii, with his grandson Mark.

Knut was a generous, kind, tender-hearted and adventurous man. He was a good listener and a good story teller. We will surely miss his humor, his stories, and his incredible zest for life.

Knut is survived by his beloved wife, Lillian; four children, Roxane (Gail) Svoboda of Prior Lake, Julie (Lincoln) Merwin of Doylestown PA, Richard Wefald of Jordan, Shelley Wefald (Roy White) of St. Paul; his sister Marguerite (Gordon) Bacon; seven grandchildren, Kristine (Sean) Flynn, Jessica (Vikram) Natarajan, James (Thu) Svoboda, Mark (Liga) Merwin, Matthew Merwin, Dylan (Katie) Tjader, Kelsey Wefald (Janelle Taggart); and six great-grandchildren, Liva Merwin, Lily Flynn, Annika and Magnus Natarajan, Franklin Svoboda, and Jasmine Krouse.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Magnus and Verna Wefald, his brothers, Martin and Harold Wefald, and his great-granddaughter, Ciara “Kiki” Flynn.

The Wefald family wishes to thank the staff of St. Francis Regional Medical Center for the wonderful care given to Knut in his final days. He was alert and comfortable and able to interact with the family as we shared stories and memories of our life together. Every staff member was friendly, caring and attentive to our every need. We thank you so much.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Cindy and Jim Pottebaum :

    Dearest Shelley, Roy and family,
    We’re sending our love and hugs your way. So sorry for the loss of your dad but we hope that your memories help to heal and that your time together sends Knut off in a grand way.
    Peace and love,
    Jim and Cindy Pottebaum

  2. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all family and friends. May all families look forward to a time in the near future when death will be no more and all sickness will be done away with. Isaiah 25:8 and 33:24.

  3. connie ceminsky :

    Knut was an amazing man who loved to share his life with others and we will always be grateful to have been recipients of his time and attention. We loved His story telling, one of his best attributes and he could hold a room of people captive once he started in on one of his many adventures. Knut will be Forever Missed….Never Forgotten and his stories will be shared again and again… this I am certain. Knut is with you now and always. Our Deepest Condolences and much love to Lilian and the Knut Wefald Family from the Ceminsky Family.

  4. Knut was an amazing person who gave his best to everyone and everything. He will be sorely missed by many. Much love to Knut’s family and friends. May peace find it’s way into your hearts during this sad time.

  5. Knut was such a great person. I will cherish his stories and all the wonderful memories.

    RIP

    Erika

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