Gloria Mae Johnsen Quietly passed away after a 12-year battle with Alzheimer’s June 29, 2021
Raising a family in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s typically meant the man of the house would go to work and the woman, usually a mother, would tend to the house and the affairs of the children. Today we have come to appreciate and respect the sacrifices, and often unnoticed devotion given by those unsung hero’s of the family, the stay-at-home mom. Gloria Johnsen raised four boys: James (born 1950), Kenneth (1953), Richard (1956) and Charles (1958) and was a quintessential stay-at-home mom. From age 22 - 53, Gloria tended to the house and all the activities and dealings of her children. All four graduated from college, married and have children.
While Husband Harold Johnsen routinely worked daily, his out-numbered wife of 53 years (prior to his passing in May 2002) would manage the well-being of the four boys who were in a constant state of perpetual motion. From skinned knees to heartbreaks, Gloria fixed and solved problems on the fly. There was no situation that could not be easily remedied by her freshly made grilled cheese and a frosty glass of Kool Aid.
Part mother and part father during the day, and full-time cook, teacher and cleaning staff at night, she figured out how to make her life as a mom and as a wife sizzle. Her flare for fashion was on display up until her final days.
“She was the kind of mom that you would see in the black and white sitcoms of the 60’s,” said Charles her youngest son. “Everyone thought she was Mary Tyler Moore’s twin.” It was a fitting comparison in that she wasn’t just beautiful, but she showed the same empathy and ironic whit of the classic television moms.
“She would win you over or defuse a problem with her movie-star smile, but mostly her smile was responsible for making everyone around her feel welcomed, invited and touched,” said her son Richard. Her beauty, style, grace, charm, empathy and love were her gifts to her devoted and adoring children, grandchildren and friends who would be faithfully appreciative until her final days.
Her often referenced smile and model looks were still with her even as her mind floated into confusion. From the care-givers to those that had met Gloria for the first time, all adored her infectious charm and smile. It truly was a special power she possessed.
Gloria was born May 6, 1928 to David and Margaret Robinson at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago. She was baby sister to Claire (Ruzek) and brother David Jr. Each had children (Sandy and Mark Ruzek from Claire and (David III, Linda, Karen and Kimberly from David Jr.). She lived her school years on Chicago’s north side Mayfair neighborhood. She graduated in 1946 from Carl Schurz Public High School, located on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago’s northwest side. She would later attend Wright Jr. College and at age 21 become a wife to Harold Johnsen. They lived a few years in Elmhurst and then for 30 years in Clarendon Hills and finally Lake Bluff, Illinois.
Gloria is survived by many who adored her including her four children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.