Knouse was among a small group of women in 1967 who started the Progressive Animal Welfare Society as a thrift store in an office basement. Now, the society rescues, rehabilitates and adopts out thousands of animals each year.
Knouse, the society's first volunteer president, retired from the group's day-to-day operations in the late 1990s. She talked shop with PAWS executive director Annette Laico as recently as six weeks ago.
"She will be missed by many at PAWS, as well as the community as a whole," Laico said.
"She continues to inspire us all," she said.
PAWS, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, is planning a service for Knouse.
She is survived by three daughters, including Sue Sato of Kirkland. Her husband, Fred Knouse, died about a decade ago, friends of her family said.
Lynne Marachario, a PAWS member and a close friend of Virginia Knouse, was visiting Knouse during the hours before she died.
The two women met on the Seattle waterfront in the late 1960s. The fledgling Progressive Animal Welfare Society was protesting the capture of an orca, Marachario said.
As the society's leader, Knouse took controversial stands to advocate for the well-being of animals. She spoke out against the use of decompression chambers to euthanize animals in Seattle.
Knouse pushed for improvements to the Everett Animal Shelter. She also built up her society's facilities, creating a much-needed animal shelter in South Snohomish County.
"She left quite a legacy," Marachario said.
Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or email@example.com.
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