The Call to Create: Marguerite Knutzen 1925-2017


My mom passed peacefully in her home last week. She was a loving, kind and patient mom. To her I owe my life’s calling: the joys of making, doing and teaching.

My mom taught junior high art, crafts and ceramics before I was born. She took a break to raise me and then went back to teaching as an elementary school aide.

Teaching at the junior high level is no easy task. Schools dump students with academic and home problems into the arts classes just to keep them busy. My mom’s call to be a teacher wasn’t really about how to turn a pot on a wheel.

I’ll let my mom explain. In a stack of her papers I found this note:

As a former teacher of 30 years working with junior high (now called middle school) and elementary students I was always challenged to keep the art activities of crafts, ceramics, drawing and painting “on the move.” This age student is very active and has a spontaneous ability to create and be uninhibited. That is how God created the teenager.

In later years I had the opportunity to work with adults who tend to toss creating aside by saying, “I can’t draw a straight line.” Inhibition sets in. The truth is God created us to be creative and we all have it within us. Our lives are enriched by the activities involved in creativity around us. Not just in the art of drawing but in dance, theater, writing, reading a story to a child, entertaining in our homes, gardening, workshops, singing, playing an instrument and on and on.

People are stimulated when encouraged and often find new abilities they never thought they had.

I will miss my dear mom. But it gives me great comfort to know that she touched so many lives.

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  1. A touching tribute. She impacted many lives and you’re following in her footsteps impacting many more. Peace to you.

  2. My sincere condolences, Erik. What a great picture of your mom. She looks so happy and sassy! It sounds like she was a true creativity enabler.

  3. Your Mom was quite a sight, very fashionable. I can see her artsy and creative side in the photo. I shed a few tears for you and me since I miss my mother, too. That was a wonderful statement she penned. My mother was not formally a teacher of creativity, but I credit my creativity to her example and teaching. You had a good role model whose influence was felt widely, so I can better understand your drive to create and redesign what does not work. I know you are proud of her. I am quite sure she was proud of your work.

  4. Rob and I send our condolences, Erik.
    Thanks for sharing your mom’s creative spirit with us all.

  5. My sympathy on your mother’s passing, Erik (and, Kelly, it looks and sounds as if you had one heck of a MIL). Her statement is priceless. Should be on an inspirational poster.

    And my wish for you is what’s happened with me: My mother (another unique character) died almost 10 years ago, but she is so much a part of me that in a way, she’s never left. I’m constantly saying things she said, laughing at things she did, laughing with her. “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

  6. I am so sorry for your loss, Erik. Your mom seems like an awesome lady. I love her little paragraph at the end. That was like: BOOM. Yes. I could not agree more.

  7. Please accept my condolences for the loss of your dear mother. I am touched by what you shared about her. Thank you!

  8. So sorry you have lost your mother. Her inspiration is palpable. That photo is a treasure! May your memories bring you comfort.

  9. Erik,

    My condolences to you and your family. From your mother’s statement, I can tell that she was exactly the kind of teacher that her adolescent students needed. Teaching junior high/middle school is very challenging–and it’s a calling. I will end my message with a sentence that appears in the obituary of my 3x great-grandmother, “She rests from her labors and her works do follow her.”

  10. So very, very, sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. It is terribly hard to lose one’s mother. Many wishes to you both for peace and comfort.

  11. I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like an amazing woman and clearly was an incredible inspiration to you.

  12. Lucky you to have known such a neat lady so well! You will find, as I have, that our parents never really leave us, and I hope you’ll find some comfort in that. I hope this time passes quickly for you Erik, and that soon you’ll be able to think of her happily and with no sense of loss.

  13. Condolences to you, but I know that she will live on in your thoughts and actions. I, too, had a creative, intelligent, independent mother who taught me much and helped me to become who I am, and I am eternally grateful to her. She lives on in my heart and mind as I know your mother will too. Blessings and peace to you both.

  14. Alleluia, He is Risen! Kelly and Eric, may the Lord give you comfort and peace and the hope of the Resurrection. How blessed you are to have had such a wonderful mentor and thank you for passing her creativity and joy for life on to the rest of us.

  15. I am so sorry for your loss. The world is a better place because she gave so much to her students! I believe we honor our loved ones when we tell their stories so the next generation is enriched!

  16. My sincere condolences, Erik.

    She sounds like a strong, creative woman who cared very much about creativity and making things, and could unearth the qualities hidden in all her students.

    Hugs to you and Kelly.

  17. Wow..She sounds like a wonderful and kind person and a great mom.
    My condolences and prayers for you and your family.

  18. Very sorry for your loss. I am one of those ppl who sees themselves as very unartistic, who ‘tosses creativity aside” This has inspired me to give it more of a go, and enrich my life a bit, in some way, with more creativity.

  19. I’m so sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to her you have posted. She looks like a real firecracker in the photo, and I’m so glad you posted her wonderful statement. The world needs creative people who love children and teens–I know your mom made a real difference in the world.

  20. Sorry to hear about you Mom. She sounds like a great person with a good understanding on young teens.

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