Katherine Alicia Bensen


Katherine Alicia Bensen (April 2, 1974 - September 15, 2020) has passed away at home in Roseville, Minnesota. The cause was non-small cell lung cancer. Her brave, kind, and giving spirit will carry forward through her many loyal and supportive friends and family, including husband John, son Henry, and daughters Anne, Millicent, and Sadie, along with parents Marjorie Nolan, Rick Nolan (Mary), and siblings Michael Nolan (Lynette), Leah Heggerston (Daniel) and John Nolan (Anna). Her 10 nieces and nephews include Ellie, Maggie, Huck, Jack, Carter, Mitchel, Olivia, Parker, Lily and Luke.  

In order to continue her fight for better screening, diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately a cure for lung cancer, she has donated her body to the Mayo Clinic. Memorials may be sent to the lung cancer foundation of your choice. 

Family and home were Katherine’s passions. The Bensen home is the “Hub” for the youth of Roseville Schools, Carleton College, and Katherine’s friends and community. Her kitchen feeds the masses and her couches are always full.  John and Katherine love their children fiercely, and their children love them right back. As a wife and career woman, Katherine’s reputation preceded her as strong, polished, wicked smart, organized, giving, and beautiful. With her electric smile, long dark hair, and, yes, high heels, her energy was fierce love, fun, and always contagious.  

Over the past five and a half years since her diagnosis, Katherine became a nationally known advocate for the lung cancer community.  On Capitol Hill, and far and wide, she sought to spread hope, remove old stigmas about lung cancer, and advocate for early screenings because “anyone with lungs can get cancer.”

This year, Katherine assembled a team to work with lawmakers and staff to draft “Katherine’s Lung Cancer Early Detection Act of 2020” (H.R. 7123). Once passed by Congress and signed by the President, the measure will greatly expand early screening and surely save thousands of lives. 

Katherine was recently named a “Legendary Woman” among women graduates of Brainerd High School.

Expressing deep gratitude to her family, and to the countless friends and supporters Katherine inspired, Katherine put it this way: “When I was diagnosed . . . I would never have imagined how full my life was, with so much love and support from so many wonderful people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And remember, whenever you feel down, you are NEVER alone.  I am still here and giving you my big hugs”. #Katiewins 

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