BIO Index

Allan Knutsen


We moved to Florida at the start of my junior year and rented a small house on Lido Key, right across the bayou from Paula Miller. Even though I only spent my last two years at SHS, they were easily the best years of my schooling. Everybody was very friendly and there were many memorable times during those years. For scenic beauty, it is hard to match Sarasota. Driving across the Ringling Causeway and Sarasota Bay each morning was an amazing way to start the day.

After graduation, I started at Florida State in the fall because a friend told me what a great time he was having there. After I got there, I registered for pre-engineering classes and found out that they didn't really have an engineering school..didn't think that one through. Still, I enjoyed my two years there and got all my pre-reqs done. I roomed with our classmate Harry Reeser in my sophomore year, and would frequently run into other SHS classmates while walking across campus. At the end of 2 years, I transferred to Florida and never looked back. I think a lot of FSU, but I became a Gator to the core. ( I was at the Florida - Georgia game in JAX this past October and it is still so much fun to be at that game. ) Again, while I don't think I ever had a class with my SHS classmates, I would run into them all the time on campus (Spunky, Sue Kestley to name a couple.) Even though I only went to SHS for my last two years, seeing so many classmates at Florida and FSU made it seem longer.

I left UF in 1966 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. My first job was with Electric Boat / General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut building nuclear submarines. CT is a beautiful state, but after spending the last 7 years in Florida, I didn't think I'd ever get warm that first winter in CT. The next winter I traded in my water skis and took up snow skiing so winters up north became something to look forward to. I spent 11 years at EB and the last 7 I was a Nuclear Test Engineer. We worked closely with the Navy in testing all of the systems, conducting operational testing and then eventually taking the reactor critical and getting the sub ready for its sea trials. It was a very interesting job and required shift work and a lot of OT hours; mostly unpaid. The job also came with a draft deferment, so I never got called to go to Vietnam.

Perhaps the highlight of those years was that I met my wife, Cheryl Hayward, in The Seahorse, a small bar-restaurant in Noank in 1973. We got married the following June and are about to celebrate 37 years this summer. Cheryl was from the North Shore of Boston, which is another beautiful area. When I met Cheryl, she had just graduated from U. of Hartford with a degree in Education and was working on a Master's Degree in Counseling.

In 1978, I was offered a job as Chief Start Up Engineer for Potomac Electric Power in DC and we moved to Alexandria, VA. At the time, we said we'd only stay for a couple of years to build the resume, but we've been in this area ever since. I stayed at PEPCO for 11 years, got an MBA in Finance in the evenings and got some experience also as the Mgr. of Financial Analysis and as Mgr. of Commercial Energy Services. Cheryl got a job as first, a business teacher, then as a counselor and eventually retired as Director of Student Services in 2008. Since then, she's been working for T C Williams HS ("Remember The Titans") first as Interim Director and now as a consultant. After leaving PEPCO in 1989, I went into consulting for both independent power plants and for management. In 2005, I decided to stop all of the traveling and got a real estate license and started learning that business. I'm still active in real estate, but for the last two years I've also been working part time for Water Management, Inc. as a sales and project management consultant. Their main office is here in Alexandria and only a few miles away. I like staying busy, so I have no plans to fully retire in the near future. The extra income also helps with traveling, which has always been a big part of what we enjoy. We've been too Europe several times. We also really enjoy California and have vacationed there many times. Lately we've been doing cruises; two weeks in the Mediterranean last October and the Caribbean this January, with more planned. We also have a family reunion planned for Hood River, Oregon this summer.

Now, for the best part, we have 3 wonderful daughters. Debbie graduated from Old Dominion U., is married and lives in Virginia Beach with her husband Earl and they have two wonderful sons Jacob (8) and Jordan (6). Our next daughter, Elizabeth, graduated from James Madison in 2006 with a degree in Hospitality/Business. She just got married last August to Andrew, a very nice guy she met at at JMU and they live nearby in Alexandria. Our youngest daughter, Rebecca is a junior at JMU and is also a Hospitality major. She has a great internship lined up for this summer in food and beverage at a top resort.

Just before leaving Connecticut, I took up "running"..never ran a marathon, but did run scores of 10Ks and some 10-milers. I did log 10,000 miles in some great U.S. cities and foreign countries. A number of years ago, I was running the Alexandria Turkey Trot along with my dog and a guy comes up next to us, sticks out his hand and says, "Allan? Ben Kirkconnell, Sarasota HS." Small world. I gave up running about 10 years ago due to continuing injuries and got back into riding bikes, which I'm still doing.

After our youngest graduates from college next year and gets settled, we're looking seriously at moving back to Florida. We've been visiting Ponte Vedra Beach a couple times a year for the past 14 years as Cheryl's Mom lives there, and now her sister and husband have also moved there. It's a great spot with warmer winters than here, but still has a little bit of the change of seasons. We'll see how that goes. We've had a beach condo in Bethany Beach, Delaware for the last 30 years, so being near the water is something that's a "must" for us. It will be tough to leave as our girls are all in Virginia right now, but we definitely like Florida, warm weather and the ocean.

Photos: Cheryl and I in St. Thomas in January; youngest daughter Rebecca and Hobie (aka the best dog in the world); Elizabeth's wedding in August, daughter Debbie, husband Earl and our grandsons at Mt. Vernon on Monday, and Elizabeth and I at Santana concert last summer.