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Frances Elaine Knutsen, 93

Published 4:32pm Saturday, May 4, 2013

Frances Elaine Knutsen, 93, passed away on April 3, 2013, after a brief illness of pneumonia.

Frances Knutsen
Frances Knutsen

Frances was born on Dec. 26, 1919, in Graettinger, Iowa. Her farming parents were Jorgen Willard Knutsen and Clara Christina Hermanson Knutsen. After attending a one-room country school for her early years and the local high school, she went on to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to get a two-year teaching degree in elementary education. Then she was back in a one-room country school, but this time as the teacher.

She later acquired both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. During World War II, Fran joined the WACs and rose to the rank of staff sargeant. She was assigned to London, England, where she was given the job of driving a jeep for officeres. Once she drove General Eisenhower! The V-2 rockets or “buzz bombs” as they were commonly known, kept her “always on her toes.” After the war, she returned to her teaching career where she worked in Albert Lea, Fairmont and Austin before moving to Duluth to be near her sister, Mavis.

In Duluth she lived in Pines III, Diamond Willow and The Shores (Ecumen’s Lakeshore Lutheran Memory Care). Fran was very much a special lady. She never married but was a “second mother” to her six nieces and nephews. Her pumpkin parties around Halloween were memorable. she was a Stephen’s Minister at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Austin, where she contributed in many ways to the church’s activities. She enjoyed helping others and was a friend to all. Traveling was her favorite pastime, along with bowling, reading and gardening. She was preceded in death by her parents and sister, Martha. She is survived by six nieces and nephews: Jeff Johnson of Guam, Steven Johnson of Duluth, Julie Stafford of Mendota Heights, David Johnson of Mahtomedi, Laura Withrow of Colombia Heights, and Kris Hyatt; and her sister, Mavis Whiteman of Duluth.

A remembrance ceremony will be held on June 9, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. in St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Austin.

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