Barbara Kujanpa-Saniie Memorial Fund



Thanks to curious and dedicated members of the community like Barbara Kujanpa-Saniie, others have been enriched and inspired. She helped others appreciate the arts through her art history scholarship, leading an arts organization, and expanding minds as a professor.

The Elmhurst Art Museum was always a site of inspiration for her. To honor her legacy, her family has created the Barbara Kujanpa-Saniie Memorial Fund to provide that opportunity for others as well. Contributions to this fund will support a free summer teen workshop and an artist-educator residency, which then produces curriculum shared throughout the year to other school children.

Full obituary:

Barbara Marie Kujanpa-Saniie, loving wife and mother of two children, passed away on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

Barbara was born on March 8th, 1943 in Erie, PA to Eino and Blanche (Bergman) Kujanpa. She pursued her PhD in Art History at the University of Chicago in 1980 and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to research Akseli Gallen-Kallela who is best known for his illustrations of the Kalevala, Finland's national epic. Her career spanned from Director of the Hyde Park Art Center to art history professor at Columbia College to grant writer for various non-profits including Monroe Elementary School in Hinsdale. On June 13, 1980, she married Jafar Saniie. They raised a son, Matthew, and a daughter, Jessica.

Barbara had a passion for knowledge and an insatiable curiosity. She was also a voracious storyteller and this formulation truly made her a combination of family historian and human encyclopedia. She constantly spent her time regaling her family with stories ranging from Archimedes to growing up in postwar America to how the Impressionists were basically scientists. She was a joyous member of Hinsdale Redeemer Lutheran Church for over 30 years serving in various capacities from vacation bible school teacher to President of Redeemer. She was known for her quick wit, continuous kindness, and willingness to break out in song at a moment's notice.

Barbara was preceded in death by her father, Eino, her mother, Blanche, and her sister, Carol Ann. She is survived by her husband Jafar, her two children, Matthew and Jessica, her sister Susan, and one very special granddaughter, Corinne (Coco).

A memorial service will be held at Redeemer Lutheran Church (139 E 1st St, Hinsdale, IL 60521) on July 30th, 2022 at 11 am.


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