Suellen Johnson, 75, Glen Ellyn, Illinois

March 19, 2018

Suellen (nee O’Keefe) Johnson, 75, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, passed away on Sunday, March 11, 2018, after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer.

She was born April 15, 1942. Loving wife of the late Ted Johnson; devoted mother of daughters, Jessica (Scott) Hierbaum of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and Britt (Ken) Drews of Hingham, Massachusetts; proud grandmother of Sydney Hierbaum and Wally, Henry and Cecilia Drews. In addition, Suellen is survived by her loyal and loving family, mother Donna Fae O’Keefe; siblings Joaline (Bob) Stedman and Pat O’Keefe; sisters-in-law, Barb O’Keefe and Mary Lou (Ned) Lewandowski, and brothers Jack (Cindy) O’Keefe, Jim O’Keefe, Tim O’Keefe and Bob (Christine) O’Keefe.

Suellen is preceded in death by her husband, Ted; her father, Donald O’Keefe; and her brother, Michael O’Keefe.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1965 with a degree in political science, Suellen worked as an editor for Science Research Associates. Suellen became a full-time volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation after Jessica was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1975. In 1979, she founded JDRF Chicago’s Ron Santo Walk for Diabetes Research, which to date has raised close to $100 million for diabetes research. She received JDRF’s International Volunteer of the Year award in 1983. Suellen was heavily involved in Democratic politics from 1972 onward. In 1976, she was the congressional district director for Jimmy Carter and was a delegate to the 1976 Democratic Convention. In 2008 and 2012, she volunteered tirelessly for Barack Obama’s campaign.

Throughout her busy life, she was a warrior and a tireless advocate who left this world a better place than when she entered it. We will be forever grateful for her presence in our lives and for the legacy she left.

In lieu of flowers, Suellen asked that donations be made to either Food Allergy Research and Education or the Illinois chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

A celebration of Suellen’s life will be held Sunday, March 25, 2018, at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.