Shirley Johnson

March 02, 2024

Shirley L. Johnson nee Griffin, 88, died peacefully March 2, 2024, surrounded by the love of her family. Shirley was born at home in Lombard, Illinois, on February 16, 1936. She graduated from York High School in 1954 and studied at Elmhurst College.

Early in her career as a business professional, Shirley rose through the ranks at Miles Laboratory to become Advertising Manager. She went on to co-found Tivoli Enterprises, Inc., operators of Classic Cinemas, the largest Illinois-based movie theatre chain. Shirley was a champion of the arts and worked out of the spotlight to give opportunities to many local organizations. She helped bring foreign and independent movies to suburban audiences, including her long-time collaboration with the After Hours Film Society. She supported a circuit-wide summer reading program in cooperation with local libraries and was instrumental in providing performance space for non-profits, author events, children’s theatre, concerts, dance, and even local talent shows. Her restoration efforts were vast and received the Landmark Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Stewardship. In 2023, she and her husband were honored by the Downers Grove Historical Society as Historians of the Year and were touched to have been featured in a documentary film entitled “History Happens Here: The Tivoli Theatre.”

Shirley was a proud mother and grandmother who cherished spending time with her family and enjoyed relaxing at their lakehouse. She was an avid reader who loved history and visited many presidential libraries.

Shirley was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 46 years, Willis Johnson, her mother Elsie Griffin nee Hoepner, her brother Robert (Laurene) Griffin and sister-in-law, Sara Homberg.

Shirley is survived by her children Rich (Nancy) Winters and Mary (Michael) Reichl and her step-children Stephen (Penelope) Johnson, Kay Johnson, Chris (Sue) Johnson, Wendy (John) Leick, & Amy (Stanley) Balicki. She is also survived by her grandchildren Sarah (Andrew) Wojtanowski, Paul Reichl, Jason (Rebekah) Johnson, Cyrus Johnson, Roxane Johnson, Nalani Johnson, Alexa Johnson, Kyle Johnson, Jocelyn Leick, Nolan Leick, August Balicki, Olivia Balicki, Rose Balicki, & Luke Balicki in addition to her great and great great grandchildren and her brother-in-law Ross (Barbara) Johnson.

Memorial Visitation Friday March 29, 2024 from 9-11:30 A.M. followed by an 11:30 Memorial Service at Cappetta’s West Suburban Funeral Home and Cremation Services 4920 Main St., Downers Grove. Inurnment to follow at Chapel Hill Garden West Cemetery, Oakbrook Terrace, IL.

If desired, donations in Shirley’s name may be made to Variety of Illinois 603 Rogers St., Downers Grove, IL 60515