Liesl Nibbe
Liesl Nibbe
Liesl Nibbe
Liesl Nibbe
Liesl Nibbe

Obituary of Liesl Nibbe

Liesl Nibbe, age 46, was born in Robbinsdale, MN on August 20, 1977, and passed away from cancer on June 16, 2024, in Rochester, MN. She was preceded in death by her father, Richard Nibbe, in October 2017, and her mother, Kathleen Nibbe, in March 2023. Liesl is survived by her partner Joel, her longtime best friends Nikki (Mark) and Gianna (Dennis), and countless dear friends, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Liesl always took great care of her space and her belongings, learning how the world worked from her dad, usually on weekend afternoons while helping him with chores like changing the oil on their boat. If she planned ahead, she could hide in her bedroom walk-in closet to avoid these tasks while reading her fashion and gossip magazines, but it didn’t always work out that way. Her father’s sudden passing left a great amount of sadness and many complex situations for Liesl and her mother to sort out.

Liesl was hilarious with a quick-wit and wicked sense of humor, a trait she inherited from her mother. In Liesl, Kathy found a fierce Yahtzee competitor and they both enjoyed having a picture of a man's butt taped to the inside of a kitchen cabinet to add some spice to their day. As Kathy fell further into dementia and eventually passed, Liesl lost an anchor in her life. She grieved deeply for her, and new challenges that came from the loss made it especially painful.

Liesl was Kathy and Richard’s only child and they doted on her. She found her first best friend in her next-door neighbor, Gianna. Every summer, Liesl’s family would take road trips and go camping, with Gianna as company for Liesl. They had a tradition of exchanging Christmas ornaments each year, maintaining their bond. They met in 1979 and remain best friends to this day.

In high school, Liesl had a fun group of friends, including Jill and many others, that made the years fly by. They had many hilarious adventures, whether cruising the strip in Anoka, driving slowly through a parking lot with a cup of pop on their car roof to watch people’s reactions, or making prank phone calls from phone booths to friends working at Brookdale, all while laughing until they couldn’t breathe.

Liesl graduated from Park Center High School in 1995 and began attending college at the University of Minnesota that fall. None of the majors offered were exactly what she wanted, so Liesl created her own degree, graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Theater Lighting, Computer Processing and a minor in Art History.

Throughout the years, Liesl lived all around the Twin Cities metro area, growing up in Brooklyn Park and later moving to South Minneapolis, Loring Park, near the Stone Arch Bridge, Golden Valley, and Plymouth. She found comfort in her Plymouth apartment with its west-facing balcony that included a grill, beautiful sunsets, and the quiet only a top-floor apartment can offer. Her apartment was filled with pictures of her favorite people, art, and knick-knacks that were both hilarious and beautiful, as well as post-it notes with reminders to “be nice” at work, to take a walk, cool designers to check out, and shows to watch on TV. Her freezer was always stocked with ice cream, a food she enjoyed after many years of cancer treatments.

Liesl was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and survived with it for 15 years. She underwent many different treatments that extended her life and faced many setbacks with determination - she never gave up. Over time, the things she enjoyed became harder to participate in, but she never let that stop her from doing what she wanted. She rarely declined an invite from a friend and was always up for something fun. If no one was available, she would go alone – Liesl never let ANYTHING ever get in her way. She was always fearless and independent.

Liesl had many different jobs throughout her life. She was a candy striper at North Memorial, where she developed a love of nugget ice. Her first paying job was at Paperweight in Brookdale, where she met her best friend of 30 years, Nikki. She also worked at the deli counter at Cub Foods, as a barista on the U of M campus at The Cup Cafe, and at Marianne Richmond Studios, where she first learned to love dogs thanks to a smart and well-behaved border collie named Clay. Liesl landed her dream job at First Avenue, running lights for the Sunday Night Dance Party, Thursday Night Ritmo Caliente, and occasional concerts. This job allowed her to attend every concert at First Avenue for free and enjoy inexpensive cocktails. She saw thousands of concerts across every genre and had countless nights of exuberant fun, with a handful of less-than-ideal experiences. Liesl also worked at the Gay 90s running lights and DJing for Drag Shows, where she made wonderful friends and countless memories. She also worked at Hennepin Theatre Trust as a bartender and bar manager, where she met her good friend Tina, with whom she attended concerts and celebrated Pride every year. Liesl also worked at the law office of Frederickson & Byron and Capella University. As an avid shopper, she also worked at Express in Uptown until it closed and then at Saks Off 5th in downtown Minneapolis, where she got discounts on high-end designer items that she loved - especially amazing purses and sunglasses - and also met many more wonderful friends. Her most recent job at Metro Transit helped her grow her patience and entertained friends with her hilarious Facebook posts about occasional crazy calls.

Liesl met Nikki at her first job at the store Paperweight in Brookdale when they were 16 years old. They became immediate best friends, bonding over their crazy boss, and mutual love of alternative music and The Simpsons. The first concert they attended together was the Beastie Boys at the Target Center, and they went to hundreds more over the years. Over their many years of friendship, the had many routines like 10 pm phone calls to discuss their day, painting their nails while watching “120 Minutes” on Sunday nights, and going to Gringo’s on Thursday nights for Long Island Iced Tea and Kool-Aid shots from their favorite bartender after watching Seinfeld. Nikki supported Liesl from the beginning of her cancer diagnosis and stood by her side the entire way.

Liesl loved to have fun. Some of her favorite ways to spend her time included playing bingo, going to the casino to play slot machines, watching Drag Race on TV, enjoying delicious meals at restaurants, and seeing movies at the Icon Theater in St. Louis Park, which offered her favorite bacon popcorn.

We all know that she had four activities that were by far her favorite: 

seeing live music, drinking cocktails, going on vacation, and shopping. Occasionally, all four would happen at the same time! Liesl attended thousands of concerts in the Twin Cities and across North America. She traveled to San Francisco with Nikki to the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1996, staying at a motel so sketchy their cab driver was scared to drop them off—Liesl wasn’t scared, instead - they went for a walk to check out the neighborhood. She also went to Boston with Nikki, who won tickets from KDWB to see *NSYNC, a group they both liked but wouldn’t have admitted to if asked. Liesl also traveled to Chicago multiple times with Mark, Nikki, and Joel, seeing Jamiroquai and The Flaming Lips. She, Mark, and Nikki stayed in a hotel known to be haunted, where Liesl saw a ghost sitting on the bed while Nikki and Mark were sleeping. Jill and Liesl went to New York and saw a live taping of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Liesl also attended Coachella many times with a variety of people, booking her hotel for the next year as soon as she left, knowing she’d be back. With Joel, she visited Las Vegas, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, enjoying gambling, seeing live music and poolside relaxation.

Over the years, her favorite people to go to concerts with included Nikki and Mark for indie rock shows, Jill for rap concerts, Tina for 80s rock, and Joel for rock, electronic, dance, new wave and everything in between. Together, Joel and Liesl attended hundreds of music performances and had tickets purchased for planned  upcoming shows as well. Her appreciation for many genres of music meant she experienced something she loved in many different places with many different people.

A highlight of Liesl’s year is a concert by Ike Reilly held the night before Thanksgiving at First Avenue, referred to as "Ikesgiving," ruining her appetite and her energy for many Thanksgiving celebrations. It was at this concert in 2012 that she met her partner, Joel. Liesl and Joel had a loving relationship, rooted in a love of music but also, for their dogs Siffel, Effy and then Grover. She gave them the best pets and scratches and their very favorite treat of whipped cream. Joel and Liesl enjoyed spending time together winning at bingo and pull tabs, watching Wheel of Fortune and entering the contests in hopes of winning big, going to bars, eating out at restaurants, going to movies, comedy shows, vacations and whatever else Liesl could fit in their well-organized calendar. Joel relied on Liesl’s extensive pop-culture knowledge from watching TMZ to help keep him apprised of all the latest celebrity drama. Their time spent was always stacked with fun in their nearly 13 years together.

She had a long-time hairdresser, Hector, and masseuse, Jaime, both of whom kept her feeling like herself while going through her cancer treatments, she prioritized her selfcare and was an exceptional advocate for herself.

Liesl cultivated deep relationships over the years and was a profoundly loyal person who loved the people in her circle completely.

Taped on the shelf inside Liesl’s medicine cabinet was a horoscope that reflected how she lived her life:

Leo: Hope can be a feeling or it can be an action. What you do today is proof that you believe that things are going to get better. In a quiet way, you are telling the world that the future is bright.

There will be a celebration to honor Liesl, tentatively planned for her birthday – August 20.

Time and specifics to be determined.

Lastly, we all have that one song, or more than one, that reminds us of Liesl.... we would love to know what that is.

If you are comfortable sharing, please do!

A Memorial Tree was planted for Liesl
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Cremation Society of Minnesota
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