Always be yourself unless you can be Batman then always be Batman!
This sign greeted me on one of my first days working with Mark Knutson in our new Project 412 office. I laughed, of course. It was typical Mark. “Why Batman, Mark?” Mark said something like, “because Batman was cool, and he did good stuff for people.”
As writer Dennis O’Neal says “Batman is the most realistic of superheroes. He gained his superpowers the old-fashioned way – he earned them. He sweated for them.” Batman is the pinnacle of human performance – he represents drive, commitment, and hard work.
Wow. Mark Knutson was Batman! Mark’s energy, work ethic, vision, care for community was infectious and amazing!
Our hearts were broken on Sunday with the news of the accident that took Mark from all of us. Mark helped launch Project 412 and was our second employee for a blink of time until the opportunity to manage Detroit Mountain came along, which is where DL needed him to be. Mark was a one-of-a-kind guy. He was full of high energy and great ideas. In the brief time he was with Project 412, he did the little stuff – finding furniture, hanging giant whiteboards – and the big stuff – discussing ideas galore, helping us choose a vision for Project 412. This was Mark in a nutshell – willing and able to do the mundane and the new and exciting – anything to make an event or organization take off. Mark’s enthusiasm for the future of DL was so contagious.
Mark loved everything about living in Detroit Lakes. He often said he couldn’t believe how lucky he was to live here! Mark took every opportunity to jet ski or pontoon on the lake, bike the trails, run the lake, and even learned how to downhill ski this winter. He also accepted every offer to get involved in the community. Mark was all in on DL! Mark had BIG ideas and HUGE energy and we loved that about him. I will forever miss our weekly and often daily conversations dreaming up ideas, supporting each other in our crazy new career roles, marveling at the beauty of having the lake to “ourselves”, talking about concerts to attend, swapping stories about our young adult kids, or just sharing a beer together. Mark is the guy who said “YES” in a big way to life. An 80s rock concert — let’s go! A mammoth at Detroit Mountain— great idea! A big Oktoberfest – let’s do it! He had so many amazing ideas and dreams. I love how much he loved his adopted town of Detroit Lakes and in just a year of living here, DL loved him right back. He made the world better with the Fargo Marathon, the Beardsley runs, and all the other running/biking/skiing/music events he added to our community.
Mark was the guy you wanted on your team. He got stuff done in the best way possible, he took chances, he tried new things, and he lived life to the fullest! We are so thankful for the much too short of time he lived here and will always be grateful for his leadership, counsel, and friendship. Our hearts break for his family and his countless friends. We miss him deeply and will always remember his kindness, energy, and drive! Rest in peace, dear friend. Thank you for being our Batman – being cool, doing good stuff for people, and for making life better!