Marjorie W. Johnsen

Date of Birth

October 1, 1933

Date of Death

August 29, 2011

City of Death

Santa Barbara

October 1, 1933 – August 29, 2011

Marjorie W. Johnsen was born October 1, 1933 in St. Paul, MN to Elmer & Katherine Wacklin and attended public schools there, graduating from Murray High School in June, 1951.

She first met her future husband, Eugene (Gene) C. Johnsen, during her freshman year at the University of Minnesota, going on dates and playing together in the university concert band, she on clarinet and he on euphonium. In 1953 she spent a summer in the former Yugoslavia under the SPAN program (Student Project for Amity among Nations), a summer study program sponsored by various Minnesota colleges and the University of Minnesota. About two years later he began courting her seriously until she agreed to marriage on August 31, 1957 at the Unitarian Church in Minneapolis, MN. They then set out for Columbus, OH, where Eugene studied for his Ph.D. in mathematics and Marjorie took graduate courses in her fields of interest, political science and international relations. In fall 1962, they set out for Washington, D.C., where Eugene had a one year postdoctoral position at the old National Bureau of Standards. The following fall of 1963 they moved to Goleta, CA, where Eugene had been appointed to the Mathematics faculty at UCSB.

During their early years in Santa Barbara, Marjorie participated in civic organizations such as the League of Women Voters. During a professional trip of Eugene’s to Europe in the summer of 1966, Marjorie, with some information dating to WW I and a bit of detective work, discovered some long lost relatives of her mother in Germany. Over the years, Marjorie and Eugene visited her German relatives several times, beginning with a trip in spring and summer 1969, when they participated in the wedding of the eldest son of Marjorie’s closest cousin.

Desiring to settle down in Santa Barbara, in late 1970 Marjorie and Eugene moved from Goleta to their present home on the Santa Barbara Riviera. As an indication of her strong interest in the Riviera neighborhood, Marjorie served, from 1983 through 1989, on the Board of Directors of the Riviera Association.

During a sabbatical year for Eugene at Harvard University in 1984 – 85, Marjorie was appointed to secretarial positions at MIT and one of the principal hospitals in Boston. Here they were introduced to the Boston Early Music Festival, which increased their musical educations and strongly influenced their musical tastes for years to come. A few years after returning to Santa Barbara, Marjorie returned to the classroom, attending part-time the Santa Barbara College of Law, receiving her J.D. in spring 1994. Following that she passed the California State Bar Exam on her first attempt and was admitted to the State Bar in July 1995. During this time she also started a 15+ year part-time secretarial position with the Santa Barbara County Civil Service Commission. She retired from this position in spring 2008.

After her admission to the California State Bar, Marjorie decided to apply her legal expertise by offering her services pro bono to the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, where she specialized in Elder and Family Law. Her pro bono assistance over the years led to her receiving two special awards, the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award in 2008 and the Santa Barbara County Bar Association Frank R. Crandall Pro Bono Community Service Award in 2009. She practiced law with the Legal Aid Foundation until she was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2010, and later with brain cancer in January 2011. She passed away from brain cancer on August 29, 2011.

Marjorie is survived and deeply missed by her loving husband Eugene, of almost 54 years, along with her sister Jane and niece Karen (Jim) of the Minneapolis area, and niece Kathi (Tom) of the Chicago area. She also leaves 2 grand-nephews, three great grand-nieces and two great grand-nephews, as well as one grand-niece.

Both Marjorie and Eugene want to thank the Dream Foundation of Santa Barbara for sponsoring our attendance at the inaugural concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel at the Granada Theater in Santa Barbara on May 7, 2011, where we were graciously received by Maestro Dudamel in his dressing room after the concert. A story about Marjorie and her attendance at this concert entitled “Lawyer with Limited Life Expectancy Gets Her Wish” was presented in an online article of the Santa Barbara Independent on May 14, 2011. Eugene would also like to express his deep gratitude to Hospice of Santa Barbara and the Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care Foundation for their assistance in the care of Marjorie during her long illness in 2011, including her special care at Serenity House for the last few days of her life.

A memorial service for Marjorie will be held Friday, October 14, 2011 starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, located at the corner of Santa Barbara and Arrellaga Streets. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Marjorie may be made to any of the following charities:

Dream Foundation of Santa Barbara
1528 Chapala Street, Suite 304
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 564-2131

Hospice of Santa Barbara
2050 Alameda Padre Serra, Suite 100
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
(805) 563-8820

Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care Foundation

222 E. Canon Perdido Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 965-5555

Salvation Army of Santa Barbara
423 Chapala St,
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 962-6281

Santa Barbara Humane Society
5399 Overpass Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93111-2093
(805) 964-4777

Enjoy this Indy article about Marjorie and the Dream Foundation CLICK HERE


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