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Dennis & Barbara Johnsen
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After 51 years of marriage, both Dennis William Johnsen and Barbara May Johnsen (nee Felton) passed away 12 hours apart of unrelated health issues. Our father, Dennis, born January 15, 1948, departed this world on November 18, 2023, at the age of 75, after suffering complications from a stroke. Our mother, Barbara, born February 6, 1954, age 69, went to be with our father and the Lord the very next day, November 19, 2023, after fighting a courageous battle with cancer for almost 8 years. They could not live without the other and would not have wanted it any other way.
Dennis grew up in Chicago on 72nd street. He spent his childhood summers swimming in Long Lake, and ice skating on the frozen lake in the winter. He enjoyed fishing, bowling and spending time at Rainbow Beach. After high school, Dad joined the Navy and served as a Hospital Corpsman. Later, he enrolled at Moraine Valley where he became politically active. He loved campaigning—going door to door, literature drops, coordinating precincts, managing campaigns and even running for office. He worked many jobs throughout his life ultimately retiring as a mechanical engineer with Cook County. Dennis liked to take pictures of snow and my Mother’s beautiful Christmas decorations in recent years. He worked hard all his life to provide for his family, yet he still found time to coach our teams, take us on the best vacations, make us laugh, and give great advice. He spent the last years caring for Barbara. He worked so hard to keep her here with us.
Barbara grew up in Oak Lawn, IL. She played the French horn and was a girl scout, a candy striper, and involved with Job’s Daughters. She was inspired to a life of service and was active in donating to charities and volunteering to make sandwiches for homeless at Church, serving on the Church board. She liked to dance and told us all about seeing the Beatles when she was younger. She was a very hard worker and took such good care of us. Our mother retired from Jewel after an amazing 42-year career. After retirement, Mom took up Zumba, and loved shopping locally, and traveling to new adventures with Dad. She adored her grandchildren, traveled to attend every birth, doted on every one of her grandchildren, and they adored her right back. Kind, gentle, and the sweetest woman ever born, she will be sorely missed.
They met in early 1971 at Memphis Headrest, where they both volunteered, in Oak Lawn, IL. After a whirlwind romance, they were both over the moon for each other and inseparable. They married on Valentine’s Day in 1972. Fifty-one years of birthdays, holidays, vacations, adventures, and laughter, and they would still consider their greatest achievement to be the birth and raising of five remarkable children. They lived it up during retirement, going on cruises with friends, trips to Vegas, road trips around the country with grandchildren, visiting Arizona and Vermont. They renewed their wedding vows for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. The love between Dennis and Barbara is legendary. Our hearts are broken but we take comfort in knowing that Dad was waiting for Mom on the other side, and neither of them are in pain any longer.
Dennis and Barbara are survived by their five children: Joshua (Margaret), Jason, Jill, Zeke, and Zoe (Illias) Katsivalis, and nine cherished grandchildren: Halley May, Jacob, Mia, Sophia, Nina May, George, Leo, Fritz and Telly. Dennis is also survived by his brother James Johnsen, and Barbara her siblings: Kenneth Felton (Laurie), Melinda Alekna (Paul) and Deborah Lorden (Gary). Dennis was preceded in death by his parents Fritchof and Gertrude Johnsen (nee Tiemersma) and Barbara by her parents Wesley and Florence Felton (nee Conwill), sister Marguerite (nee Johnsen) and brother-in-law Wayne Boerema and numerous beloved aunts and uncles. Both Dennis and Barb are also survived by their many cousins, nieces, nephews and dear friends.
A celebration of their lives and their incredible love for each other will be held on Saturday, December 2, 2023, at the Beverly Ridge Funeral Home at 10415 S. Kedzie, Chicago, IL, from 3:00pm to 8:00pm, with a service at 7:00pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Mt. Zion Lutheran Church at 10400 S. Kostner Avenue, Oak Lawn, IL 60453 (708-423-6554) or the BEDS Plus organization Beds Plus Care – Helping to End Homelessness (beds-plus.org). Thank you!
If you have any stories or pictures of Barbara or Dennis that you would like to share with the family, please send to email@example.com.