Jennifer Nissen

October 27, 1985 ~ April 29, 2022 (age 36)


Jennifer L Nissen, 36 passed away on April 29, 2022 at Baylor Scott White Cancer Center in
Dallas Texas with her family by her side. She faced four years of Melanoma with authenticity and courage.
Jennifer was born on October 27, 1985 to Dana and Terri (Chambers) Nissen in Macomb,
Illinois. They both survive. She married Brian Van Vlack and they had a daughter, Andie Van
Vlack. She later married David Fuehrer on October 26, 2021 in the Valley of the Gods in
She is survived by her husband, daughter, her Grandmother Roberta Chambers of Bushnell, IL
Uncle Dan (Cindy) Chambers of Bushnell, Uncle Dave (Karen) Nissen of Macomb and her
cousins Nicole (Chuck) Slater and Nick (Sasha) Chambers of Bushnell, Nathan (Kelsie)
Chambers of Washington, Missouri, Becky (Russ) DeFord of East Peoria, Mother-in-law Jean
Fuehrer of Webster, New York and Brother-in-law Eric (Kelsey) Fuehrer of Tampa, Florida She is
proceeded in death by her maternal grandfather Richard Chambers, paternal grandparents
Marilee and John Anderson and her Aunt Jane Nissen.
Jennifer graduated from Macomb Senior High School in 2004 and from Abilene Christian
University with her bachelors degree in 2007 and with her Masters degree in 2008. She
studied one semester at Oxford University in England. She worked for TD Ameritrade and
Charles Schwab for the last 11 years as a Senior Risk Manager.
Jennifer had an ineffable passion for life and adventure that she shared with her family and the
communities she inspires.
She loved words and their meaning. In March 2022 she had her first literary piece published in
the magazine MONTHS TO YEARS entitled: Life Like Before. It is published by Ellis Emerson,
reflecting the name change she gave herself during the last few years of her life. She chose the
name Ellis because it means kindness and that is what she wanted as her legacy, a kindness
toward others and to herself. Ellis also works equally well as a male and female name,
embodying her lifelong championing of equity.
Although previously terrified of flying, she embraced travel and a love for new experiences
around the world. She went skydiving in Texas, kayaked and parasailed in New Zealand, sand
surfed in the Sahara Desert, walked the black beaches of Iceland and went white water rafting
in Costa Rica. Her favorite shirt read: Live More, Fear Less.
She also became an endurance runner in her 30’s. She completed more than 100 races,
with 55 being marathons and ultramarathons. She completed Badwater, commonly known as
the “World’s Toughest” ultramarathon. It is 135 miles through Death Valley in July, and she did
it while 6 months into treatment for stage III melanoma. She ran the New York City and
Chicago Marathons and, in 2021 she ran the Boston Marathon virtually.
Although these pursuits are extreme, it is her belief in self-acceptance that shines the brightest
light from her soul. This is especially true for the Young Adult Cancer Community, where
cancer diagnoses early in adulthood often create major life interruptions; as well as the
opportunity to create one’s own identity. At CancerCon, the Young Adult Conference, she read
a piece she wrote entitled “10 Things Worse Than Dying”, with number 1 being “Not Really
Living”. Jennifer Nissen and Ellis Emerson created a legacy of living, loving and learning to
become who we each inspire most to be in life.
There will be a Celebration of Life on June 12, 2022 at the Macomb Country Club from 2:00 to
Memorials may be made through her family to her daughter’s education fund or to a
scholarship established in her name to send someone facing a cancer diagnosis to a writer’s
workshop in Chicago that fueled her writer’s spirit.
Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral Home in Macomb is in charge of local arrangements.  
You may leave condolences and sign the guest book online at


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