Cover photo for Martha Knudsen's Obituary
Martha Knudsen Profile Photo

Martha Knudsen

d. September 20, 2020

Martha Knudsen, 93, died Sunday, (September 20, 2020) in Newton.

She was born February 19, 1927.  She was the adopted daughter of Rex Moody, Newton, KS.  She spent most of her childhood years with her foster family, Jacob & Marie Dester of Newton.

Martha graduated from Moundridge High School and went on to Northwestern University in Chicago, where she graduated as a Dental Hygienist.  She worked 40 years in dental offices in Memphis, Tennessee; Wichita and Newton, Kansas (including the offices of Dr. Sheets, Dr. Gregg and Dr. Bette) before retiring in 1986.

She married Ivan Knudsen on September 1, 1956; he survives of the home.

After retiring, Martha, who was a self-taught artist, found her passion for drawing, her specialty being pen and ink.  She started with barns and windmills because they had straight lines and very little shading.  Over the next couple years, she developed more of an architectural style of drawing.  This led to a series of Kansas things: stone houses; schoolhouses; courthouses; churches; windmills and three sets of barn notes.  She became known as the Kansas Barn Lady.  In 1991 she published her first Kansas Barn Calendar.  She started with four different barns from different counties and then set out to find eight more barns from an additional eight counties.  She ended up publishing 20 annual calendars, every barn different.  She developed and published 4 Kansas Barn Book with barns from her calendars and as many histories as she could find.  Barns from every county in Kansas were represented in her books.  Martha was featured as one of “Hatteberg’s People” in 1993 and was included in his book, “More Kansas People”.

In addition to her drawing, she enjoyed spending time with her family, living on the farm and going to WSU basketball games for 61 years.

She was preceded in death by her father, step-mother, Kathleen Karlowski, foster parents and brothers, Robert Moody, Michael Moody, Jack Moody and foster sister Betty Boldenow.

Survivors include husband, Ivan Knudsen, daughter Dina and husband Stewart Aaby, Wichita, KS; daughter Martie and husband Robert TenEyck, Newton, KS; granddaughters Kara Aaby and Jessica Aaby, Wichita, KS; sister-in-law Alice Owen, Exira, IA; brother-in-law, Richard Anderson, Bennington, NE; cousins: Connie Graber, Moundridge, KS; and Kathryn Stucky, Newton, KS; Velma Percoco, Jack Brubacher, Yvonne Dalke; nieces: Marlene Skinner, Newton, KS; Dyann Koehn, Aberdeen, MS; Cindy Peterson, Mt. Pleasant, TX; Stephanie Moody, Wichita, KS; Tamara Stier, Bennington, NE; Melissa Willaman, Omaha, NE; nephews: JB Boldenow; Wichita, KS, Jim Boldenow, Newton, KS; Beau Moody, Lawrence, KS; Brook Moody, Lawrence, KS; Ron Owen, Audubon, IA; Rich Anderson, Bellevue, NE; James Barnes, Omaha, NE; and Art Ball, Jr., Adel, IA; and special friends Pat and Janis Marean, Peabody, KS

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, October 3, 2020; 10:30 am at the First Presbyterian Church, 900 Columbus Ave., Newton, KS.

Memorials in lieu of flowers suggested to Kansas Barn Alliance or Carriage Factory Art Gallery.  Memorials may be sent to Peterson Funeral Home, 215 N. Main, Newton, KS 67114.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Martha Knudsen, please visit our flower store.


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