Alumni Stories

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Theodore (Ted) Knudson

Theodore (Ted) Knudson

Class of 1950

An Introduction to Theodore (Ted) Knudson
Ted is a product of La Crosse, the city, and the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Class of 1960.
Ted was born during the ending of the great depression along with his younger brother Thomas (UW-L Class of 1955). Both boys were raised by their father Ted Sr. an automobile mechanic, who managed it alone. Their mother, Borghyld (nee Nielsen) died while they were 2 years and 1 year old respectively.
Both boys matriculated through the La Crosse school system where they graduated from Central High School (Classes of 1950 and 1951) Ted entered La Crosse State Teacher’s College in September 1950, and after the first
semester left college to take up duties with the USAF for the duration of the Korean Conflict. There he existed for four years and after many varied experiences returned from the service to re-established his civilian life in industry. After a year of “industrial grinding”, it was clear to him that a return to learning would be necessary to progress both in wealth and life style. He moved back to Wisconsin and now equipped with a more mature attitude and a real thirst for learning, he re-entered La Crosse State in 1956. He was not alone as there were many other “veterans” who also decided to take up the educational challenge.. Those years at UW-L were wonderful, meaningful and informative. Graduating four years later, Ted, was rewarded with a Baccalaureate of Science, with double majors in Physical Science and General Science and a pair of minors – one in Geography which was acquired collaterally, and another in Physical Education that came up just one credit short of becoming a third major. Ted loved learning. Having now graduated, Ted married Miss Dolores Kurtz (UW-L Class of 1956) his college girlfriend, and moved to California, ostensibly to take up duties along with his wife teaching and coaching high school athletics in Long Beach. However, coming up short of several pre-qualifying credentials for teaching in California, he was eventually offered a position with the North American Aviation Corporation as a lead Logistics Administrator. While Dolores was busy teaching and having their first son, Teddy Jr., Ted Sr. was now trying to understand what ‘Logistics Administration” was all about and at the same time, tried to lead a team of 23 ladies and one man, in identifying and pricing spare parts for a military missile system. Actually the job seemed to be sort of an advanced version of a
secondary classroom environment. It had the usual quirks that come with grouping so many ladies, varying in ages from 18 to 60 years, each having a unique attitude and special set of behavior traits. However, success, did indeed follow him in this new challenge because he converted his UW-L learned ‘teaching know how” into gain to handle the situations. About this time in history, the American space programs were becoming very busy
sorting out their adventurous first years. Ted, now armed with a higher level of
management position and with recognition of his performance in his work place was offered a much better position with the General Electric Company at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This new position turned out to be a job “ghost writing” the NASA’s “logistics procedures” for the Apollo/Saturn Program’s Ground Support Equipment and Facilities at the KSC. This new position set off a plethora of events that, measured over time, benefited both the Knudson’s and America’s space programs alike. By this time, incidentally, Dolores, in addition to coaching and teaching in Titusville, Florida, was adding another fine son, Carl, to the family. It was during his Florida space program experiences that Ted received one of the highest NASA accolades accorded to a civil employee at the launch site – he was deemed an “Honoree” for the Apollo 11 moon landing mission and received all the recognition that went with this historic event. In addition to meeting President Lyndon Johnson and the
very highest management levels of NASA and Industry, he also met and talked with Mr. Charles A. Lindberg. This was a wonderful experience for him and Dolores. Success in Ted’s positions and responsibilities escalated and as things would have it, after the Apollo/Saturn Program ended he advanced to a Launch Operations and Checkout position in the pre-launch processing room. This new position was before and during the Skylab Program’s first two of its four space missions! It was during performance of his role in conducting the Skylab’s pre-launch procedures, that he received, what was to become, his real “biggie” prize. While performing his role in the on-going pre-launch processing, he was approached and offered a European Operations position by the Director of the European Space Agency’s new Spacelab Program. This new program’s content was to become Europe’s own designed and
produced space laboratory which was planned to fly for ten years as their contribution to the newly developing American Space Shuttle Program.
During his 22 plus years of tenure with the European Space Agency many fine and wonderful things happened to enrich his own esteem and to provide a life-sized set of memorable experiences. Ted engaged in his daily, weekly, monthly on-the-road interfaces with European national agencies and had other arduous interactions with high level industry officials. Eventually, he received the gratitude for and recognition of his efforts. These acknowledgments were to become his ‘jewels-in-the-crown.” This long period of professional devotion resulted in his lifetime of real job and self satisfaction. However, success and recognition in Europe’s government/industrial environment did not come without its social impact. Ted’s marriage ended – although, with friendly accord.
Beneficially though, both of his sons grew up and matriculated through the European International school systems and eventually completed four year University degrees here in America. An Introduction to Theodore (Ted) Knudson
Amid a set of social activities, Ted also met and married his wonderful “Dutch Treat”, Yvonne, a beautiful young Netherlands lady, who also worked at the European Space Agency in Holland. These two have now been married for thirty plus years and call La Crosse, their home. They also have their annual winter vacation quarters located in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and their summer house at Lake Chetek for monthly get-a-ways. And of course, Yvonne and Ted return each year to Europe, for at least a month, to renew years
of friendships and to reacquaint themselves with Yvonne’s (and Ted’s now) relatives. One would think that Ted, with all the work related stuff was without other interests. Not so – he enjoyed playing AAA Class fast pitch softball for a number of years with the Downey (CA) ‘Eagles.” Later, he enjoyed many more years playing semi-pro softball with the Brevard Engineering Company of Cape Canaveral (FL). Earlier on, in the late fifties, while serving with the USAF, he played first base in Class D baseball with the Luling (TX) “Oilers.” But, actually, the sport love of his life was, in fact, golf – he even achieved a modicum of
success in Europe where he won at his thousand member golf club, the Senior’s Championships for six straight years. All in all, he won or placed in over 230 tourneys at various European Golf Clubs. He has the silver and crystal awards to show for it! (These are a real bane to Yvonne, who gets stuck with the cleaning and polishing efforts!) Ted also had the pleasure of playing golf a number of times with royalty - among them, the late Crown-Prince Bernard of Holland and later with the late Prince Claus, when he was the Prince Consort to the Queen of Holland. Early on it was mentioned that Ted had a thirst for learning. This manifested itself in the fact that, in addition to his UW-L degree, he successfully completed courses at the Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, TX, the St Edwards University in Austin, TX, the University of Florida-Extension in Cape Canaveral, FL, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, and the Cal-Aero Technology Institute, in Glendale, CA, He also attended classes and taught night courses about Logistics at the Florida Institute of Technology, (FIT) in Melbourne, FL.
Ted’s social participations included among others, the Jaycees (he’s now a Retired Red Rooster) of the Cocoa Beach, FL, Chapter and as a Charter Member and an original organizer (now re-tired-inactive) of the Rotary Club of The Hague, Netherlands. Professionally, Ted was a Charter Member of the Society of Engineers, (SOLE) where he held positions as a Chapter Chairman (Space Coast), a Florida State Director, and a South-East US District Director and finally a National At-Large Director. He is a Life member of the SOLE.
Given the above, and maybe with a few other undisclosed events, it could be concluded that Ted came away a worthy graduate from the UW- La Crosse and has reflected credit to that self same institution, his family and himself!

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