Barbara Marie Kujanpa-Saniie

Barbara Marie Kujanpa-Saniie, 79, of Oak Brook, a former 14-year Hinsdale resident, passed away June 22, 2022.

Barbara was born in 1943 in Erie, Penn. to Eino and Blanche, nee 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 nonprofits, including Monroe 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 more than 30 years, serving in various capacities from vacation Bible school teacher to president. 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 her granddaughter, Corinne "Coco."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 30, at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 139 E. First St., Hinsdale.

Memorials may be made to the Barbara Kujanpa-Saniie Memorial Fund at Elmhurst Art Museum to support a free summer teen workshop and an artist-educator residency, which then produces curriculum shared with other school children. Donate online at