Frances Eleanor (Burdick) Kannowski was born January 4, 1898, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was the youngest of three children. She graduated from high school in Fairmont, Minnesota, in 1916. She attended Russell-Sage College in Troy, New York. She also attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and studied biology and commerce.
Frances Burdick met Max Kannowski in Mitchell, South Dakota. He took a job as the Superintendent of Parks in Grand Forks in 1921, and she worked in Chicago until their marriage in 1923. Following Max Kannowski's death in 1933, Frances Kannowski was appointed to the position and continued working until 1953. She was the first female Superintendent of Parks and Recreation in the United States. After stepping down from her position as superintendent, she was a realtor for Severson Real Estate Company for 28 years. She was the first female realtor in Grand Forks.
Kannowski was an active member and held offices in many organizations including: the American Institute of Park Executives, the National Shade Tree Conference, North Dakota Horticultural Society, the Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee, and the North Dakota Peony Society. She was also an active volunteer with the Grand Forks Girl Scout Council, Grand Forks National Victory Gardens, and the Women's Army Corps. She organized the Grand Forks Women's Outdoor Sports Club in 1934 and was a strong supporter of the youth ice hockey programs in Grand Forks and North Dakota.
Kannowski received many honors and awards. She was the Grand Forks' Woman of the Year in 1952, the Grand Forks Realtor of the Year in 1973, and a member of the North Dakota Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. In 1983 the Grand Forks Park Board named Kannowski Park, in honor of Max and Frances Kannowski, in downtown Grand Forks. She also received the Alexander Griggs Award from the City of Grand Forks in 1987, and the Sioux Award from the University of North Dakota Alumni Association in 1995. In 2001 at the age of 103, Frances was inducted into the North Dakota Recreation and Park Association Hall of Fame.
She had two sons, two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She died in Grand Forks on November 20, 2004, at the age of 106.
Additional material was donated by:
Paul Kannowski, Corpus Christi, Texas, on September 9, 2004 (2004-2692) and by Sandy Slater, Department of Special Collections, on November 29, 2004 (2005-2724)
Rose Raymond, Grand Forks, North Dakota on May 5, 2006 (2006-2828)
Grand Forks Park Board Records: OGLMC 566
The Frances Kannowski Papers, 1933-2004, are divided into four series:
Series 1: Personal Materials
Series 2: Grand Forks Park Board
Series 3: North Dakota Peony Society
Series 4: Miscellaneous
Eighty four photographs were separated and placed in the Photograph File Cabinets.