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SHAPE America is a 501c3 non-profit organization (Federal EIN 52-0886491) and as such gifts to SHAPE America do qualify as charitable contributions and are deductible for federal income tax purposes to the maximum extent provided by federal law.

SHAPE America Legacy Society

We are extremely grateful to members who have planned to support SHAPE America through their estate or other planned gift. These donors honor the organization’s mission to advance professional practice and promote research related to health and physical education, physical activity, dance and sport, as well as our vision for all children to be prepared to lead healthy, physically active lives.

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Marian Kneer photo

Marian “Gabby” Kneer Makes Lasting Impact on Physical Education Through Generous Bequest

The world of health and physical education, but specifically “the girls sports world” lost an important pioneer when Dr. Marian "Gabby" Kneer passed away in 2020.

This “go getter” who “made things happen” was born in Peoria, Illinois, on March 8, 1924. After graduating from high school, she continued her education at Illinois State University, where she earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education, majoring in physical education. Marian later received a Ph.D. in education at the University of Michigan.

In her youth and while attending Illinois State University, Marian played on competitive girls’ teams for basketball, field hockey and softball. Her early successful competitive sports experiences, supported by her education, helped explain her passion to lead and help improve the profession.

Marian began her career teaching physical education at the high school level, serving as the girl's department leader at East Peoria High School from 1949 to 1969. She then taught at the University of Illinois Chicago, becoming Director of Graduate Studies in Physical Education and later serving as Director of Physical Education Continuing Education.

In the years before Title IX was passed in 1972, Marian, in cooperation with other female physical education leaders in her state, successfully convinced high school principals to vote and add Girl's Interscholastic Athletics to the governing body of the Illinois High School Association.

Throughout Illinois, Marian was a strong and influential leader in promoting quality physical education programs, adding her expertise in curriculum and instruction. She was active in helping develop standards and evaluative criteria for K-12 curriculums. Marian became president of the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education and Dance (IAHPERD) in 1972. Her contributions, writings and service were acknowledged by high awards and honors.

Marian always remained grateful and loyal to Illinois State University and received the Golden Redbird Award in recognition of her philanthropy and support of Illinois State Athletics. Her donations helped support the refurbishment of the women's softball stadium, fields, and facilities, and the stadium is now named “The Marian Kneer Stadium."

Marian's expertise, knowledge and leadership became a welcomed contribution to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). She became president of NASPE in 1986 and through the years received several NASPE and AAHPERD awards. In 2004, Marian was inducted in the NASPE Physical Education Hall of Fame, after which she stated, "I received my greatest honor. I felt honored and humbled."

SHAPE America is deeply grateful for Marian Kneer’s generous bequest, which provides the opportunity to continue to honor her passion for the health and physical education field.