Lisbeth Gene Hentschel was born on October 5, 1960 to Eugene and Meg (Malcolm) Hentschel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She became part of a family of six, with her siblings, James, Stephan, and Mary.
Lisbeth’s childhood life was very busy: traveling, camping, going to the beach, and playing outside. She learned to read at age 3 and once she arrived at kindergarten, a lifelong love of learning began.
Lissie attended Holy Name School and then Grand Rapids Catholic Central, graduating as salutatorian and a National Merit scholarship recipient. At Aquinas College, she majored in mathematics, accounting, and business, passing the CPA exam on her first try, at age 21. She was also a tutor at Aquinas and worked on the school newspaper, where she formed very close friendships. Her interest in art history drew her to Florence and Rome to see the art.
Lissie discovered that she was much more comfortable working with not-for-profit organizations. She worked for the Diocese of Grand Rapids and eventually became Financial Director at Family Outreach of Grand Rapids, which provides psychological services to the marginalized. She sought funding for the center, managed the accounting, and wrote grants. Lissie had a great call to social justice and frequently spoke out against the injustices in her city.
Lisbeth married Dale Johnson in August 1990 and their son, Nicholas Andrew Johnson, was born the following year. Family life, her job, and parish life kept her very busy. The Twelve Steps program was very important to her and she actively participated in Al-Anon. Although she knew that her marriage was not healthy, she remained married to care for her husband Dale, who had a lot of health issues. Once Dale was stable, they divorced, but Lissie continued to look after him and his medical needs.
Because she was the one sibling who remained in Grand Rapids, Lissie often had to care for her parents. With the death of first her mother and then beloved father in April 2018, she found herself in a time of new beginnings. Lissie and Joe Steve, a college friend, found each other and became engaged in the fall of 2018. Their wedding was to be in June 2019.
Lissie certainly considered herself to be a Dominican. She joined Associate Life in 2014 with her sister Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, as her mentor. Both sisters enjoyed the hours they spent studying the formation materials. Lissie also attended Associate retreats and Partners gatherings.
Lissie enjoyed reading, quilting, watching old movies, swimming, and being with her son Nick and her many nieces and nephews.
In October, 2018 Lissie was diagnosed with uterine and lung cancer. She endured two difficult surgeries and in January 2019 began to take chemo treatments. Throughout this challenging time, she remained upbeat, happy, and positive. It was a tragic day for her family when, on March 29 on her way to work, she was involved in an auto accident, hit by an impaired driver. She lived five days despite being terribly injured.
On Wednesday, April 3, Lissie indicated in writing that she wished for her ventilator to be removed and to die peacefully. She wrote that her dad was telling her to “come home.” She died peacefully, with a smile on her face, talking to her dad.
Lissie’s Memorial Mass was celebrated on April 12, at Holy Spirit Parish with her good friend Msgr. Edward A. Hankiewicz presiding. She will be missed. Lissie is the fourth person of the staff of the college newspaper to die at an early age. Perhaps they are gathering together, arguing and laughing as in the days gone by.
Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God—and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance.
We will post memorial reflections on our faithfully departed Sisters and Associates. If you would like to reflect on a Sister or Associate who has gone before us, please send your reflections – no more than 500 to 600 words – to
Sister Barb Kelley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.