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Graceland Mourns Former President Gerald Knutson


Press Release

April 2, 2021

Graceland Mourns Former President Gerald Knutson

Gerald L. Knutson, who served as Graceland’s tenth president from 1975-77, has passed away. Knutson was born in McLean, Texas, on June 8, 1929. He died on April 2, 2021. 

Knutson graduated from Graceland in 1949. He obtained his B.S. in sociology and psychology in 1955, and his M.S. in education in 1956 from Central Missouri State University. Knutson completed his Ph.D. in educational psychology and measurement in 1968 from the University of Oklahoma.

Knutson was selected as Graceland’s president in April of 1975, succeeding Acting President Velma Ruch on July 1 of the same year. One month later, the board of trustees gave him the additional assignment of president of Park College (now Park University) in Parkville, Missouri, a position Knutson held for 18 months.

As president, Knutson helped develop and complete the fundraising campaign for the Roy A. Cheville Chapel, and assisted in the planning and groundbreaking ceremony for that building. Knutson also saw annual alumni contributions double during his administration.

Knutson was succeeded as president in 1977 by Frank Hough.

After leaving Graceland, Knutson was active in Community of Christ as an evangelist and worked in consulting and training for several companies.

Gerald Knutson married Audette Smoot in 1953. The daughter of Earl and Mildred Smoot, Audette was born near Eagle City, Oklahoma, on February 26, 1927. The couple eventually moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where Audette died on January 5, 2011.

The Graceland flag will fly at half-staff to honor him and his contributions to the university.

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