It was with great sadness that I learned about the death of one of the finest teachers I have ever known, Marshall Schavland Knudsen. Mr. Knudsen taught at my high school, and taught the subjects of English, French, and Creative Writing. I had him for English in the ninth grade, but that class taught me more than just the language.
Mr. Knudsen was an avid historian, which was well known in his hometown of Marion, AL, where he served as the president of the Perry County Historical Society. But the most important thing that you can have as a historian, is excellent story-telling skills, which Mr. Knudsen most definitely had. He would tell us stories of events long-ago, which would peak the interest of students who normally didn't care about history. His cousin, Winston, wrote the internationally acclaimed Forrest Gump, and Mr. Knudsen could tell you anything you wanted to know about it. I do believe that he even helped Winston put his family Scandanavian history into the preface of the book...I could be wrong about that though.
Mr. Knudsen kept a poster board on the wall, which listed numerically the things that he would not permit in his classroom. I remember one being "talking to classmates," but the one I will never forget was #4- Innattention. The reason I remember it so well, is because that was the one I always received... "Tidwell, #4."
Knudsen taught us the correct pronunciation of words, as well as manners that would help us at least seem like decent human beings. We kept notebooks that were called "Commonplace books," in which we wrote down the lessons he taught us. I think that if I look hard enough, I will find that I still have mine.
Long after graduation, I would still run into Mr. Knudsen. When I substituted at my old high school, he was still there. I can remember one time after substituting, I left after school to go work out at the gym. I ran into Mr. Knudsen and jokingly said, "Well, Mr. Knudsen. I do believe you're following me." He looked me straight in the face and said, "Not on your life, Tidwell."
On another occasion, Mr. Knudsen came to my house to bring me a wedding present. I thought it odd when the doorbell rang, because noone ever came to the front door and rang the doorbell. But Mr. Knudsen would have only done the proper thing, and that was it. As I opened the door, I was so excited to see him. "Mr. Knudsen!" I said.
"I came by to bring you all a wedding present," he said.
I immediately turned on the manners.
"Well, won't you come in and have some tea, Mr. Knudsen?" I asked. What? I don't even know where that came from, but it seemed appropriate.
"Oh no, no no no," he said. "Astrid is waiting."
Astrid, his wife, was at home waiting for him, and they had an event to attend.
A gentleman, a hilarious teacher, a historian, a friend to all. He will indeed be missed.
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