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Adelaide Marie Schogran Knapp – A Full and Vigorous Life


From the time she was born on March 26, 1912, Adelaide Marie Shogren seemed destined for an interesting and active life. Of the more than two dozen centenarians living in United Methodist Homes’ communities, she stands with just one other as hospital-born. Adelaide and her twin brother, George, named after the attending nurse and doctor at the delivery at St. Luke’s Hospital in Reno, Nevada.

The fraternal twin infants joined four siblings before them, and her parents had one more child after them, yielding seven children. Several Persian cats and a large dog complemented their busy household. The family lived across the street from the University of Nevada at Reno and as a result, encountered many students on a daily.

Mrs. Shogren, a housewife, spent her days focusing on raising the children and managing the household. Mr. Shogren held a job as a night superintendent in a packing company for all of his working years. He slept during the day and arose in the afternoons. Adelaide describes him as a “very kind man.”

The Shogrens enjoyed a vigorous family life. Her dad and mom felt very proud of children and actively engaged them in all sorts of enriching activity. Together, they established and maintained a vegetable garden, plum tree and a chicken yard on their property. To combat the hot days of summer in Nevada, the family often went to Bower’s Mansion, a local attraction with a natural hot spring fed swimming pool. Also, they sometimes went to the Truckee River for fishing and more swimming and some hiking. Built by Mr. Shogren, a two-room playhouse in the yard for the children also yielded many hours of fun. Because he loved to build and make things for the family, Adelaide thinks he missed his true calling to carpentry; however, he did build the family’s home in 1900.

The children chopped wood for the family’s wood burning cook-stove, another of the home’s heating sources. Adelaide played hopscotch, jump rope and swam with her best friends Anna and Edith. She took dancing lessons and also showed artistic talent since Kindergarten. As an adult, she spent many pleasurable hours producing professional grade paintings and sculptures.

Although both sets of grandparents lived in Denmark, making contact infrequent, they fused with her favorite relatives—Aunt Christina, Uncle Henry, and their six children. More in keeping with siblings, the dozen first cousins seamlessly mingled on a daily basis with one another between the two households, located on the same block. According to Adelaide, “At that time Reno was a small town with many large families.”

Aunt Christina and Uncle Henry preceded her parents coming to the United States and encouraged them to do the same. Uncle Henry Anderson, a businessman, investor, fundraiser and donor, played a major role in building the fledgling Reno. He owned at least 160 acres north of Reno and his flocks of sheep sometimes ranged beyond Nevada to California, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. During the 1880’s he assisted crews from the US Coast and Geodetic Survey in surveying the Lake Tahoe basin. Peak Anderson, in San Bernardino National Forest, California, is named in his honor. The Shogren and Anderson families had a lot of social interaction and get-togethers among themselves and in the Reno area.

Mrs. Shogren shopped at a local old-fashioned market. Their home had electricity, an indoor bathroom and wood and coal stoves, later converted to gas. The family food, stored in an icebox, remained cool with ice delivered by an iceman. Households typically placed a card in their window, indicating if and how much ice was needed. Years later, they purchased a refrigerator.

In 1920 Adelaide saw her first movie with sound, and when she was about 15-years-old, the family acquired a radio made by a local young man, Donald Knapp. They struck up a friendship, culminating in their eventual marriage. Adelaide attended local schools and graduated from Reno High School. She acquired the nickname Addie as a kid, and later in high school, “A.” During summers throughout high school, she worked in a confectionary as a “soda fountain girl” and conscientiously saved as much of her earnings as she could. At age 16, she learned to drive and later, with her savings, bought an Ultra Page.

Following high school, Adelaide initially enrolled in the University of Nevada but transferred to Stanford University where she earned a nursing degree. She landed her first job at a hospital. Subsequent jobs took her to private physician practices.

Adelaide’s painting of her late husband’s bagpipes

Donald Albert Knapp, a student at University of Nevada, Mackay School of Mines, first met Adelaide at a youth church meeting. As a car buff, he drove a green roadster. They married in 1933 and eventually settled in LaHoya, California. Donald also loved radio, television and played the bagpipes. Over the years, they had four children: Barbara, Michael, George and Donald.

A move occurred when Donald’s employer transferred him to the east coast. In New Jersey the family lived in Short Hills and belonged to the Community Congregational Church. Donald loved to drive so they took many trips throughout the United Stated, often camping as they traveled. Later, world travel took them to Denmark, France, Italy, Sweden, Germany, and China. Also, they enjoyed cruising to foreign lands such as Japan and Australia, whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Crests of the Knapp (Donald’s father) and McBean (husband’s mother) families grace Adelaide’s apartment walls as well as a painting by Adelaide of her husband’s beloved bagpipes, with which he became fascinated later in life. Her mementoes include an album from their 50th wedding anniversary party on October 9, 1983. It contains a letter of congratulations from then Governor Thomas H. Kean and another from the White House signed by Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

Like the other centenarians, she reflects, “I can’t believe I’m 100. I never expected to live this long.” Today, she is grateful for her four children and many grandchildren. Of the seven Shogren children, Adelaide is the last. Adelaide enjoys living at Bristol Glen and attends the music, art and special programs. Her kernel of advice to others: “Be honest, healthy, happy and friendly.”