By Laurie Stone: PNT Correspondent
Russell Knudson was a life-long educator and coach. His humorous and kind-hearted nature was infectious to those that knew him.
Russell Knudson died on Oct. 11, 2004 at the age of 78.
With his refreshing outlook on life, Wilma Knudson, Russell Knudson’s wife, said he was an optimistic person that made life happier for everyone around him because of his hopeful attitude.
According to family members, Russell loved people.
“He treated people graciously,” Wilma Knudson said. “He was quite a gentleman, even for my lady friends, whether it was opening a door or pulling out their chair before dinner. He just wanted to serve others.”
He believed that a person’s life is determined by the goals they set for themselves.
Born on May 15, 1926, in Blanket, Texas, to Russell and Thelma Knudson, Russell graduated from Farley High School in 1945. He was a bombardier for the U.S. Navy Air Corps and served in the Pacific Theatre.
He made a name for himself in the South Pacific as a boxer in the Navy during World War II, according to Randy Knudson, Russell’s son.
In 1947, Knudson returned to the University of New Mexcio where he met and married Jeanne Scott.
He served as the school principal and a coach for the schools in Farley, N.M. until 1960. He was a coach and high school principal in the Portales school system, and was the Raton Public School Superintendent from 1972 to 1985.
Butch McGowan, the assistant superintendent to Knudson in Raton, said, “He was the best friend and mentor anyone could have.
“When he interacted with people, whether it was students, employees or the district, you saw someone that was caring, but showed leadership for the district.”
After he finished working for the education of others, Knudson worked on his own education. After Russell’s retirement, he attended the University of San Francisco School of Law.
He served as the Vice President of the New Mexico Activities of New Mexico Alumni Association. The New Mexico Senate confirmed Knudson as a member of the Commission for Higher Education, as well. Also, he was a member of the New Mexico Supreme Courts Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee.
He married Wilma Roberts on Dec. 27, 1992.
“We had more life in our 12 years of marriage than a lot of people have in 50 years of marriage,” Wilma said.
Randy said family was the first and foremost important thing to his dad.
“He loved his kids and his wife,” Randy said. “He was a person that was filled with sunshine.”
A tree will be planted honoring Russell Knudson at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday at the Roosevelt County Courthouse.