Vivi  Thiessen Martens
Vivi Thiessen Martens

May 29, 1929 - January 13, 2018
Born in Chicago, Illinois
Resided in Denver, Colorado
  • Contat Us
  • Guestbook
  • Photos
  • Services
  • Flowers


Vivi obituary

Vivi Thiessen Martens died peacefully on Saturday, January 13, at the Balfour Residences in Denver, Colorado. She was 88.

Vivi lived a full, rich life. She was born in Chicago on May 29, 1929 to Russian immigrant parents who were part of the German-speaking Mennonite diaspora. In her teen years, Vivi attended Mennonite high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she met and fell in love with Hugo Martens, a tall, dark and handsome Canadian Mennonite.

At age 19, Vivi married Hugo and they started their new life together in Chicago. Hugo found employment with Vivi’s dad, Jean Thiessen, who owned a small printing shop. Hugo and Vivi went on to own and run Thiessen Printing for more than 40 years, which they built into a prosperous enterprise employing upwards of 75 people. Vivi and Hugo moved to to the north shore suburb of Wilmette where they raised their five boys. Family life centered around school, youth sports - especially hockey - church, family vacations and lots of laughter.

Vivi was very musical. She played piano and sang in the Trinity Lutheran Church choir her entire adult life, as well as in barbershop quartets and other groups. On the last day of her life she was reported to have been “belting out” songs and “singing like a bird” along with a singing group that was performing at Balfour!

Vivi was a wordsmith extraordinaire, doing the “Jumble” every day, as well as crossword puzzles, beating all-comers regularly at Scrabble, always reading a book.
Vivi and Hugo traveled extensively in their retirement, visiting most continents. Vivi loved meeting people and chatting with them. She made friends easily wherever she went.

Vivi was a founding member of the Snetram Bridge Jollies, an avid Cubs fan (very grateful to have lived long enough to see the Cubs win the World Series!) and a devotee of the theater, especially musicals. She loved an occasional glass of gin and maybe a convivial bottle of wine shared with good friends and family.

Vivi’s kitchen was a favorite gathering spot for New Trier high-schoolers. She provided a sympathetic ear and no-nonsense advice to many a teen-age boy during the years when she was raising her own sons. Her generous spirit and tolerance for chaos taught the entire family the value of a “big tent” approach to life, and that inclusion is more important than a calm, tidy home. Vivi taught her boys to stay connected to each other while they ventured out. As a result of this ethic, four of her sons moved to Denver to establish their families closer together.

Vivi is survived by sons Stephen, David, Mark and John Preston; her daughters-in-law Kristi, Betsey, D’Lea and Suzanne; grandchildren Nick, Ben, Brian, Emma, Isabelle, Mariah, Annie, Sam and Jack; great granddaughter Eleven Nai’a; and sister Marlene Kirchner. She is preceded in death by her husband Hugo (1928-2015) and her son Michael (1951-2008) and her daughter-in-law Amy (1950-2011)

Memorial services will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 3637 Golf Rd in Evanston on February 9 at 3 PM. Donations can be made to Chicago Lyric Opera in lieu of flowers.




Memorial Service
Trinity Lutheran Church
3637 Golf Rd
Evanston, Illinois 60203
Friday, February 9, 2018
3:00 PM


Lyric Opera of Chicago
20 N. Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois 60606