Tormod “Tom” Knutsen; 82, of Elkhorn, WI died peacefully at home Monday May 11, 2020. To many he was Tom, Tor, Uncle Tom or Grandpa Tom. To us, he was our loving dad. He was a man of deep and abiding faith, a truly humble, kind and decent person. He lived a full and interesting life to say the least!
Dad was born June 5, 1937 in Bergen, Norway - the son of the late Knute Solberg and Sigrid (Fosse) Knutsen. Dad and his family (Knute, Sigrid, twin sister Karin and big brother Irv) immigrated from Norway in 1950 when he was thirteen years old. They settled in the northern suburbs of Chicago (Northfield, IL), where dad attended and graduated New Trier High School before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Shortly after joining the Navy, he met a young nursing student in Chicago named Lois Ann Hermsen (from Little Chute, WI), who would become his devoted wife of 37 years and mother of his three children Kevin, Karin and Keith. They were married at St. John’s Church in Little Chute, WI in September of 1963. Dad would go on to a distinguished career of almost 25 years in the U.S. Navy, including multiple combat tours of duty during the Vietnam War aboard the destroyer U.S.S Benner. Upon his retirement from the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer in 1979, our family relocated to the Fox Cities of Wisconsin, the area where mom was from originally. Dad later went on to work for both Allis Chalmers and U.S. Oil, a division of U.S. Venture, in the Valley before eventually retiring for good to take care of mom when she became ill in the late 90s. Dad’s love and devotion as a husband were never more on display than in his care for our mom Lois as she battled cancer. Sadly, mom passed in August of 2000, but out of this heartbreak would eventually come a new blessing to our family. Several years later, dad would go on to meet and fall in love with Virginia “Gini” L. Holman. They were married in Sun Prairie, WI on December 1, 2005. We love Gini and her family as our own and thank her for the wonderful companionship she has provided our dad over the last 14 years!
As mentioned, our dad lived a very full and interesting life. He was a storyteller, and loved “spinning a good yarn.” He would often hold court at family gatherings to regale us with his stories of growing up in Norway during World War II and the Nazi occupation of his hometown Bergen. He also liked to share stories of his military adventures and his many travels around the world. He was an avid (voracious) reader who could easily put away two to three books of historical fiction a week in his prime. He was a decent golfer (by our family standards) and fisherman – enjoying both of these pursuits over the years with his sons and sons-in-law. He was very active in his church First Evangelical Lutheran of Elkhorn, WI, serving in many capacities including as an elder and in volunteering with Gini to bring meals to shut-ins. He was active politically in The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), lobbying at the state and federal level for the improvement of benefits to military veterans. Later in life dad developed a strong interest in genealogy and did extensive research on his family history. With the help of his friends and family in Norway, he discovered an amazing trove of information dating back to Viking times and has left this legacy for future generations of Knutsens. Most of all though, Grandpa Tom loved spending time with his grandkids and great grandkids. They were the source of tremendous pride to him, as well as many smiles and laughs, even during the final months of his recent illness.
In leaving this life to go home to his Lord, dad will be deeply missed by his wife, Virginia Knutsen, his three children: Kevin (Jacci) Knutsen of Appleton, WI, Karin (Thomas) Sisk of Mukwonago, WI and Keith Knutsen of Elkhorn, WI, his seven grandchildren ( Emily, Collin, Cameron, Elizabeth, Samuel, Mary Claire, Kendrick), and two great grandchildren (Easton, Ava), his Sun Prairie family (Lisa, Skyler, Jordan, MJ, Averie, Nathan, Lola Jo), his twin sister Karin (Clay) Lyon of Goodyear AZ and by a host of other relatives and friends around the world. He was preceded in death by his wife Lois and by his brother Irvan.
A memorial prayer service will eventually be held for dad in Elkhorn at a later date (late summer or fall) this year. We will notify family and friends when that date has been finalized. Inurnment will be at Highland Memorial Park in Appleton, WI. Memorials may be made in Tom’s name to First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Elkhorn or to your own favorite charity in support of military veterans. The on-line guestbook is at www.haaselockwoodfhs.com. Arrangements completed by Haase-Lockwood & Associates Funeral Home and Crematory of Elkhorn, WI.
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First Evangelical Lutheran Church
415 Devendorf Street, Elkhorn WI 53121
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