Retirees Association

Ruthann Knudson, 77, Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Ruthann Knudson, 77, an educator, author, consultant, manager, and community activist, died on Sunday, March 25, 2018 of a stroke at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Ruthann resided for many years in Great Falls, Montana. Her remains were donated, per her wishes, to the medical school at the University of Washington. Future interment will be in Duluth, Minnesota.

Ruthann was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Sidney and Clara(Tappe) Knudson on October 24, 1941. She spent much of her youth in Duluth, Minnesota and graduated as Valedictorian of her Denfeld High School class. She continued her education at Hamline University, University of Minnesota (Phi Beta Kappa), University of Idaho, and earned a Ph.D in anthropology at Washington State University. As a young girl Ruthann read every one of Zane Grey's western novels. During summers in college she worked as a salad cook and seasonal ranger in Mesa Verde, Yellowstone National Park, and Bandelier National Monument where she became interested in native American history and culture. Her university studies and most of her subsequent work centered on Plains Indian archeology and anthropology.

Her career began as an Instructor and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Northern Colorado, Wright State University, and Washington State University. Later she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho where she managed the Laboratory of Anthropology. In the 80's she was VP/Senior Project Scientist at Woodward-Clyde Consultants in San Francisco. Ruthann worked as an Archeologist for the National Park Service in Washington, DC, and then was Superintendent of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument for 10 years. She semi-retired and moved to Great Falls where she remained active in research and education through her Knudson Associates consulting business.

Her recent activities included Executive Director of the Friends of the Museum of the Plains Indians, teaching on-line courses at Great Falls College/Montana State University, and serving on the Upper Missouri River Heritage Area Planning Board and the Great Falls/Cascade County Historic Preservation Commission. She was a speaker on Montana Indians through the Humanities Montana Speakers Bureau. She continued to participate in various research and education projects at the national, state and local levels.

Ruthann was an expert at flint-knapping and provided many wonderfully detailed illustrations for research studies. She was recognized professionally through a number of honors and awards including the prestigious Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association.

Ruthann was very active at the First United Methodist Church of Great Falls. Her special interests were in the Family Promise program and the community holiday meals prepared for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and July 4th. She also ushered, taught adult Sunshine Sunday School class, and served on the Board of Trustees. Her service will be missed by many. Ruthann loved gardening and flowers, jigsaw puzzles, cooking, vegetable and fruit canning. Romance novels and needlepoint consumed the little spare time she had.

Ruthann is survived by her brother Knute (Sandi) Knudson of Grand Junction, CO, and her niece Kelly (Marc Lazzareschi) Knudson and their daughters Laurel and Quinn of Lafayette, CA.