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'She was truly loved': Mothers remember midwife killed in car crash

WDAY News reporter Matt Henson sat down with several mothers Thursday, July 29, to help share Rebekah Knapp's legacy.

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GLYNDON, Minn. — Rebekah Knapp's legacy will be remembered for two things. Her love for people, and for all of the babies she helped to bring into the world as a midwife.

Family and friends are mourning her loss as Knapp was killed in a crash along Highway 9 near Glyndon on Tuesday, July 26.

"There is no way you could ever forget her," said Beth Pankratz. Knapp delivered four of her children and eight of her grandchildren.

Heather Dreger, her husband, and their six children are consumed with grief. Knapp delivered five of their children at their home in Walsh County in North Dakota. Their most recent son was born with Down syndrome.

"She was the first person there to tell us the news," Dreger said. "She was so calming, and telling us everything will be OK."

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Knapp's compassion and skills made her one of the most well-known midwives in the region.

"She made me feel very, very comfortable and she was so warm and loving and caring," remembered Tori Ramirez. Knapp had been the midwife during the births of four of her children.

Her family said that at the time of the crash, Knapp was on her way home, in Mahnomen County, after a day of prenatal appointments. Troopers are still investigating the cause of the crash.

Knapp started her career as a midwife in 1998. For the next two decades, she would travel hundreds of miles each week — if not daily — to care for expecting mothers across the region and other parts of the Midwest. She was on call for them 24/7. In her career, she has delivered over 1,000 babies.

"She committed her life to other people, it's a very selfless life," Pankratz said.

There was one day each year that Knapp would mark on her calendar called "The Baby Party." Every July, she invited every family she ever helped to her home. Her last one was held less than two weeks ago.

"To see a culmination of her handwork, she gave up a lot of her own personal life to be with her clients and family," Dreger said.

Now, those families are trying to find the peace that she gave hundreds of mothers.

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"That peace of mind in pregnancy and birth is so important, or your just going to be stressed out the whole time," Ramirez said.

Several midwives are helping with Knapp's clients. A GoFundMe account has been setup to help cover their costs for the next couple of months.

On the GoFundMe page, they say "they will never fill her shoes but are working hard to make her proud."

Related Topics: GLYNDON
Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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