Lyla Y. Johnsen

By on May 26, 2010

Lyla Y. Johnsen, 84, of Elburn, passed from this life to eternal life early in the afternoon on May 18, 2010, surrounded by the love of her family at Kindred Hospital in Sycamore.

Lyla was born the daughter of D. Clyde and Bessie B. (Brundige) Divine on Dec. 19, 1925, in Geneva.

She grew up in the La Fox area and attended both La Fox and Wasco schools. She graduated from Geneva High School with the class of 1942. After graduation, like many of her generation, Lyla found work at Burgess-Norton, where employees made tank piston pins in support of the war.

During her younger years on the family farm, Lyla got to know her “farm neighbor,” a 13-year-old boy named Jay Johnsen. Their farms were adjoined on a creek, and through the passing of time, friendship grew into love, and love into marriage on June 19, 1946.

They made their home with Lyla’s brother Bill and his wife until they could save enough money to have a dream farm of their own.

Lyla and Jay began farming on the Beith farm, where they farmed for three years until 1949, when Lyla and Jay moved to the Warne farm west of Elburn. There, they bought their first herd of dairy cows. In 1952, they moved to the Zeller farm on Shoefactory Road near Elgin, Ill., and farmed there until 1960, when they purchased the present family farm homestead, where Jay’s family lived when he was a boy.

Through the years they would farm many acres throughout the area. The Johnsen families eventually purchased 1,000 acres near DeKalb.

Besides working on the farm and raising her family, Lyla spent many years as a teacher’s aide at Wasco Elementary School, where many friendships were made with many generations. She also was a Sunday school teacher at United Methodist Church of Geneva.

Lyla had a giving heart and always found ways to give back to her neighbors and surrounding communities. She was a 4-H leader for more than 20 years, first with the Elgin Eagles and then with the La Fox Boys. When the boys were young, Lyla also was a Cub Scout Leader.

Her family ties were strong to the old one-room Sholes School house. Many members of her family were taught as students with her aunt, Emma Divine, being a teacher, as well. She was instrumental in the moving of the school house from Burlington and its refurbishing when it finally found its home in Le Roy Oaks Forest Preserve. When an election time came around on the calendar, she could always be counted on as an election judge.

Lyla also was a member of the Wasco Ladies’ Aid and the Aurora Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Later, she helped to organize and became a charter member of the Elias Kent-Kane Chapter of the DAR on December 10, 1980. Jay and Lyla both were active together, starting the Lords and Ladies Square Dance Club in Elgin. They also were very involved in the La Fox Farmers’ Club and the Associated Milk Producers Inc. For more than 20 years, Lyla was the superintendent of the Hobby and Crafts Building at the Kane County Fair.

Lyla had a love for travel with her sister, Merilyn, and later Jay, with destinations in every state as well as into Canada and Mexico. Lyla and Jay could always be found in the stands rooting on their children and grandchildren at nearly every single game, no matter the sport or the weather. Lyla will be missed by many and forgotten by none.

She is survived by four sons, Steve Johnsen of Denver, Colo., Rodney (Diane) Johnsen of Elburn, K.C. (Phyllis ) Johnsen of Batavia, and Todd (Linda) Johnsen of St. Charles; seven grandchildren, Marc-Paul (Melissa) Johnsen and their children, Evelyn and Leia of Denver, Colo., Grant Johnsen, Ryan Johnsen, Nicole “Coley” (Dan) Pawlikowski, Ben Johnsen, Kaitlyn Johnsen and Tara Johnsen; one sister, Lois Divine, of St. Charles; four sisters-in-law, Marcia Filip of Vancouver, Wash., and Marilyn Divine of Wisconsin, Judy Johnsen of Florida and Viola Johnsen of Geneva; one brother-in-law, Merle Johnsen of southern Illinois; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and a countryside of friends.

She is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Jay (2008); her parents; two brothers, Bill and Ramon; and one sister, Merilyn Divine.

Visitation was Tuesday May 25, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, IL 60119. A funeral service to celebrate her life was held Wednesday, May 26, also at the funeral home. Lyla’s son, Steve Johnsen, pastor of the Denver Inner City Parish, officiated, and interment followed at Garfield Cemetery, Garfield Road, Campton Township.

A memorial has been established in her name to benefit Denver Inner City Parish, and the Garfield Farm. Checks may be made to the “Lyla Johnsen Memorial” and mailed in care to P.O. Box 66, 60119. Tributes and memories may also be forwarded to the family at the same address or through her obituary at For additional information, call (630) 365-6414