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Published on February 03, 2020

Allyn and Fern Knaak

Knaak estate gift advances research at Gundersen

Gundersen Medical Foundation is always honored and grateful when people remember the Foundation in their estate plans. These legacy gifts allow the Foundation to continue its mission to advance medical research, medical education, community health outreach and the philanthropic support of Gundersen Health System.

Recently, the estate of Allyn O. and Fern E. (Isenmann) Knaak gave the Foundation a $900,000 estate gift to support research. Allyn passed away last year and his wife, Fern, passed a decade earlier.

"We are so appreciative of philanthropic gifts that can be applied toward research endeavors on a local level at Gundersen Health System. We ​are grateful for this generous ​legacy donation that will be directed, following the Knaaks' wishes, toward research in heart surgery, arthritis and cancer, for years to come," says Vicki McHugh, MS-CRM, administrative director, Medical Research, Gundersen Medical Foundation.

The Knaaks were proud of being charter members of the Heritage Society through Gundersen Medical Foundation. As long-time donors and grateful patients they believed in the Foundation's stewardship of their philanthropy. The Knaak Laboratory at Gundersen—named in their honor—was dedicated in September of 2015. The Knaaks were contributing members of the Heritage Society, Legacy Society and Founders Societies, and they attended the Heritage Society recognition dinner events every year.

"My father was Allyn and Fern's primary care physician and when he retired, I became their surgeon," recalls Sigurd (Dr. Sig) Gundersen III, MD. "I remember the two of them were always together and faithfully attended the resident graduation ceremonies every year. Allyn and Fern understood the value of education and research and that the two are strongly connected. They were dedicated donors and I think that's why they choose to leave this special gift to continue the important work of education and research."

Legacy gifts, like this, allow the Foundation to continue its important mission for generations to come. If you would like to learn more about including the Foundation in your will, please contact Gundersen Medical Foundation at (608) 775-6600 or go online.

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