Cover photo for Reverend James L. Kragness's Obituary
Reverend James L. Kragness Profile Photo
1935 Reverend James 2022

Reverend James L. Kragness

December 29, 1935 — October 14, 2022

Reverend James “Jim” Lewis Kragness, 86, passed away peacefully in his bed at Wesley Willows Nursing Home in Rockford, Illinois, on Friday, October 14, 2022.

Jim was born in Marshall, Minnesota, on December 29, 1935. He graduated from Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD; 1957) and Luther Theological Seminary (St. Paul, MN; 1961). Pastor Jim was a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. He served parishes in Glenwood and Dovray (MN), and in Palatine, Sterling, and Rockford (IL). He was chaplain, manager of pastoral services, and director of addiction treatment programs at Sterling Community General Hospital and Rockford Memorial Hospital.

Jim enjoyed canoeing and camping in the Minnesota and Canadian Boundary Waters, singing in the church choir, acting and making props and sets for church skits, and working hours creating animal wood carvings. Jim was especially an avid reader. He had a great sense of humor and a kind smile for anyone he met.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Bernice (nee Corhouse) Kragness, and his second wife, Nancy (nee Ballan) Kragness. Those left to honor his memory include his first wife, Evonne (nee Einspahr) Kragness; brother, Lennard Kragness; and his three daughters and their families: Pamela (Dwayne) Anderson, Dr. Alyssa, Austin; Kim (James Barton “Bart”) Lutz, Hannah, Emma; and Drs. Gwen (Thomas) Salvi, Kenneth (Dr. Alicia), Dr. Amanda (Christopher) Simmons and their daughter Gwendolyn (“Wendy”), Thomas, Gregory (Antonia), Kevin, Michael, and Dianne.

Private family services will be held at a later date. Cremation rites will be accorded.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Jim’s name to the Alzheimer's Association ( or to Wesley Willows Senior Living of Rockford (

Arrangements entrusted to Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory. Share online memories at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Reverend James L. Kragness, please visit our flower store.


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