Esther Knutson

Esther Knutson, age 94, of Philip, South Dakota, died on Monday, May 15, 2023 at Monument Health Hospice in Rapid City.

Esther L. Ferguson was born November 26, 1928, to Harold and Martha (Edwards) Ferguson in Philip, SD, at the Enin Hospital. She was baptized in 1929 at the Presbyterian Church at Hardingrove, SD. Later the family joined the Lutheran Church at Hilland, SD, and were members there until it closed in 1969. Esther was confirmed in the Lutheran Church June 20, 1943, by Pastor Dale Simons.

She grew up near Hilland with her parents and two sisters (Ilene and Jeanette) and one brother (Donald). She went to grade school at Plainview School. Esther was a prolific writer and poet, capturing many events during her life including the memory that she, “grew up in The (Great) Depression, but by the time she was old enough for it to have much of an impression on her things were starting to get better”. She wrote that, “People didn’t travel very far at that time so the church was the hub of social activities, and since Mama played the piano and Daddy played drums everyone would sing and dance. I would crawl up on the bed and go to sleep listening to the music. As I think back, we had a very stable life and whatever we did it was always together as a family.”

Esther attended Augustana Academy in Canton, SD, before returning to graduate from Philip High School. She wrote, “it was at Canton I realized that there was more to Christianity, but it wasn’t until I was 40 years old that I found the answers and accepted Christ in my life.” After graduation there was a need for teachers, so she received her certificate and began teaching at Alfalfa Valley School near Grindstone, SD, at 17 years old. At this time, she met Ted Knutson, and they were married on November 27, 1927, at Hilland Church, the day after Esther’s 19th birthday. All their married life they lived on the ranch near Grindstone on Dirty Woman Creek where they raised eight children.

Esther quit teaching when the kids were small but returned as a teacher’s aide to Alfalfa Valley in 1981 and retired at the age of 75 after teaching 18 1/2 years. Esther was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church and belonged to the Ladies Aid. After the church closed, she became a member of the First Lutheran Church. She always enjoyed painting homes inside and out as well as gardening, music, arts, and crafts.

Ted and Esther were married for 54 years when he passed away at age 79 in 2001. Esther stayed at the ranch until moving to her “little house” in Philip in 2009. Then in 2015 she moved into the Senechal Apartments where she spent several years with her sister-in-law & great life-long friend Virginia Ferguson.

Grateful for having shared her life are her children Paula Knutson of Wall; Teddi (Steve) Reckling of Lincoln, NE; Lynn Buchholz of Rapid City; Rod (LeeAnn) Knutson of Philip; Steve Knutson of Milesville; Barry (Edna) Knutson of Philip; Brandy (Dayle) Knutson of Kadoka; and Cody (Laura) Knutson of Piedmont; 21 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren, and 8 great-great grandchildren; and a host of other relatives and friends.

Esther was preceded in death by her husband Ted, her parents Harold and Martha, her brother Donald Ferguson, her sister Ilene Breen, and an infant great-great grandson. Esther wrote, “my family has been my greatest joy and I thank God for them.

Visitation will be held 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 19, at Rush Funeral Home in Philip.

Funeral services will be held 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at First Lutheran Church in Philip with Pastor Cindy Bisser officiating.

Interment will follow at the Masonic Cemetery in Philip.

Cards and memorials may be sent to P.O. Box 8 Kadoka, SD 57543.


Arrangements are with Rush Funeral Home of Philip.


The Pioneer Review

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Philip, SD 57567
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