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Knerr to head up Sunshine Days parade

It may have been a year since Dorothy Knerr has lived in Sunnyside, but the community still holds a special place in her heart.

"There isn't any place, as far as I'm concerned, that's quite like it," Knerr said of the town. "I really love Sunnyside."

This weekend, Knerr will have a chance to reunite with her friends in the Sunnyside area, as she will be honored as the grand marshal in Saturday's Sunshine Days Parade.

Elner Becker with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce said selecting Knerr to serve as the grand marshal was an easy decision.

"She's just been an integral part of Sunnyside for many, many years," Becker said of Knerr and her family. "They've contributed to the city in many ways."

Knerr said when she learned she had been selected she was surprised to say the least.

"I was shocked," Knerr said. "And of course I'm excited."

Over the years Knerr has contributed to the community in a variety of ways, from working as a school nurse to gathering with members of the Sunnyside Garden Club.

Knerr said she was raised in Sunnyside and attended Denny Blaine School. She said it wasn't until her parents left the farm that she moved to Grandview, where she graduated from high school.

But that wasn't the end of Knerr's schooling. She decided that she wanted to be a nurse.

Knerr's daughter, Sue Underwood, said her mother didn't begin her career in nursing until after her father, Kenneth Knerr, opened the family business, Pitzer and Knerr Auto Parts in 1953. She said when the business opened, her mother spent time at home doing the books for store. It wasn't long after that, though, that she decided instead of staying home and working she would go back to nursing.

"She began nursing here in the '50s," Underwood said.

She explained that her mother started working at Valley Memorial Hospital before she moved on to work as a nurse for the Yakima County Health District.

It was the move to the health district that would eventually lead Knerr into the school nurse line of work. Underwood said her mother was working at the health district when the Sunnyside School District decided that it needed to offer health care to its students. Underwood said her mother spent several years working half days in the Sunnyside School District and half days at the health district.

Eventually, that led to Knerr working full time as the school nurse for the Sunnyside School District.

Knerr worked in the school district for 30 years, before retiring 23 years ago.

Underwood said even though her mother retired she remained active in the community. Knerr joined the local P.E.O., the Sunnyside Garden Club and became even more active at her church, the Sunnyside Methodist Church.

And it's all of the people she met during her years working as a nurse and through her involvement in various clubs, that Knerr is most looking forward to seeing this weekend.

"I do miss everybody," Knerr said. "It will be good to see them all."

Knerr will lead the Sunshine Days Parade on Saturday, Sept. 17. The parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. The parade route will begin at Sunnyside High School, proceed west on Edison Avenue to Zillah Avenue, where the route will turn north and end at the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center.

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