***PRESS RELEASE*** per Skagit Valley College
Gary Knutzen, a longstanding presence in the Skagit Valley College athletic department for more than five decades, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 85. His memorial service will be held on Monday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. in McIntyre Hall.
Knutzen dedicated 52 years of service at SVC as a physical education instructor, wrestling coach, and ultimately held the position of athletic director from 1962 until his retirement in 2015.
Knutzen was recognized by Gov. Jay Inslee for his many years of dedicated service to student-athletes, the college, and the local community upon his retirement in 2015.
In 2009, the college paid tribute to his legacy by dedicating and opening the Gary Knutzen Cardinal Center which was named in his honor. The Cardinal Center is a building on the Mount Vernon campus that houses student service offices, cafeteria and culinary arts program, and the bookstore. which was named in his honor.
“Gary devoted his life to the student-athletes of SVC,” said Mitch Freeman, SVC athletic director. “His absence will be deeply felt, and his contributions will always be cherished in the hearts of the SVC community.”
According to Freeman, Knutzen’s campus office was a time capsule of all things Cardinal — academic and athletic — with every inch of available space from floor to ceiling filled by photos, awards, and knickknacks.
“Gary believed in offering a comprehensive athletic program to provide a positive, life-long experience to as many student-athletes as possible,” said Nancy Anderson, SVC physical education instructor. “He was a proponent of offering as many sports as possible to reach the maximum number of student athletes.”
Knutzen was instrumental in helping to create baseball fields, softball fields, jogging trails, covered tennis courts, and expand the Dave DuVall Pavilion in partnership with Skagit County.
Due to his numerous accomplishments and impact to the community, he was inducted Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) Hall of Fame in 2016 and into the SVC Hall of Fame in 2020. Knutzen was also instrumental in hosting many Skagit County cross-country championships and was an integral part of the cross-country community.
“Gary’s commitment to student success — along with the important role he played in the life of this college — is truly unparalleled,” said Dr. Christopher Villa, SVC President. “The leadership that Gary provided to the athletic department was exemplary and the relationships that he developed with thousands of student athletes and their families reflect SVC’s commitment to excellence inside the classroom, on the athletic field, and throughout the community.”
Villa added, “many of the individuals he coached and mentored have gone on to be successful coaches and leaders in athletics.”
Gary Knutzen’s Roles/Positions Held:
*SVC PE Instructor: 1962-1968
*SVC Athletic Director: 1968-2015
*SVC Wrestling Coach: 1963-1974
*Wrestling Official for 35 years
*NWAC North Region Commissioner and Executive Board Member
*Created baseball, softball fields, jogging trails, expansion of Dave Duvall Pavilion in partnership with Skagit County
*Coordinated fundraising and development of covered Armstrong Tennis Courts
Gary Knutzen’s Accomplishments and Honors
*Led two SVC teams to win the Washington State Junior College Wrestling Championships (1963, 1964)
*Dutch Triebwasser Award for Outstanding Athletic Administration (1993)
*Inducted into Burlington-Edison High School Hall of Fame (2006)
*Inducted into Washington State Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame (2007)
*SVC building named in his honor (2009): Gary Knutzen Cardinal Center
*Inducted into National Wrestling Hall of Fame (2011)
*Gary Knutzen Spirit of Wrestling Award (Presented annually to wrestler exhibiting exemplary sportsmanship)
*Paul Harris Rotary Fellow Award
*Inducted into NWAC Hall of Fame (2016)
*Inducted into SVC Hall of Fame (2020)
Throughout his life, family has always been very important to Knutzen. His wife of more than 60 years, Diane, and their three children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren with another on the way, were the special highlights of his life.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests you consider a gift to the Gary Knutzen Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Skagit Valley College Foundation, 2405 E College Way, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 or online: https://skagitfoundation.org/givenow.