Cover photo for Frances "Fran" L. Knutson's Obituary
Frances "Fran" L. Knutson Profile Photo
1952 Frances "Fran" 2023

Frances "Fran" L. Knutson

March 16, 1952 — July 4, 2023

FRANCES “FRAN” KNUTSON (Castrogiovanni) was born on March 16, 1952, the youngest child of Anthony Castrogiovanni and Frances (Dodaro). A loyal wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, Fran loved with unparalleled joy and generosity. Whether magically transforming into “Frannie Elf” each holiday to delight her grandchildren, baking batches of perfectly-toasted biscotti, or volunteering with Carpenter’s Place and CASA, she always found a way to give more than she took, leaving each space—each encounter—a bit brighter.

Rockford was stitched into Fran’s DNA. She attended St. James School, Holy Family Catholic School, and Boylan High School, maintaining lifelong Titan pride. She ventured to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University, where she studied speech and language pathology. There, she met James Knutson, whom she wed in 1975. The pair spent their adult lives in Rockford, where they raised their two children, Marifran and Julie. Fran relished working with people—whether as an educator or as a store manager at her family’s business, Hilander Foods—and made friends in every corner of her hometown.

Fran was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in February 2020. Thanks to advances in medical oncology and immunotherapy, she managed to live fully and healthfully alongside her family and friends for three-and-a-half years—even traveling with her kids and grandkids to Los Angeles and Italy this spring. She was unstoppable into her final days. Ever the “firecracker,” she left us in the early morning hours of July 4, 2023.

In her spare hours, she followed various and sundry pursuits: playing Bunco with friends, cheering on the Chicago Cubs, racing go-karts with Mario Andretti, taking walks in search of cardoni, tending to her fig tree, being a penny slot virtuoso, traveling extensively with family, and landing unspeakably great deals everywhere she shopped.

Fran is survived by her husband, Jim Knutson; daughters, Marifran Georgis (Greg) and Julie Knutson (Tyler Rudick); grandchildren, William Georgis (16), Alex Georgis (14), and Theo Rudick (10); sisters Roslyn Hill and Carla Cox, and beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. She was predeceased by her parents and brother-in-law, Stephen Hill.

A visitation will be held at Fitzgerald Funeral Home, 1860 S Mulford Rd Rockford, IL 61108, from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, July 9. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Monday, July 10, at Holy Family Catholic Church, 4401 Highcrest Road. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Boylan Catholic High School (the Anthony and Frances (Dodaro) Castrogiovanni and Family Scholarship), 4000 St. Frances Drive, Rockford, IL 61103. Express condolences at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Frances "Fran" L. Knutson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, July 9, 2023

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory - Mulford Chapel

1860 South Mulford Road, Rockford, IL 61108

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass of Christian Burial

Monday, July 10, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

Holy Family Catholic Church

4401 Highcrest Road, Rockford, IL 61107

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 25

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree