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Brenda Czajka Barnes

November 11, 1953 - January 17, 2017

Brenda Czajka Barnes, a resident of Naperville, IL since 1997, formerly of Chicago, IL, died on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 after suffering a stroke at age 63. Born Brenda Czajka in Chicago on November 11, 1953, she grew up in River Grove, IL, attended East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, IL and graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL in 1975.

After earning a Master’s of Business Administration from Loyola University in 1978, Ms. Barnes joined the marketing team in the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo. She ascended the ranks there to become the President and CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America, establishing herself as what Fortune described “the most powerful woman in the packaged goods industry in the 1990s.” Ms. Barnes left her role at Pepsi in 1997 to spend more time with her children, becoming a notable figure in the “Can women have it all?” debate. She remained active in the corporate world and served on multiple boards, including The New York Times, Avon Products, LucasFilm, Starwood Hotels, PepsiAmericas, Sears, and Staples. She returned to the workforce full-time as COO of Sara Lee in 2004 and became Chairman and CEO in 2005. Ms. Barnes left the company in 2010 after suffering a stroke. Following her recovery at Edward Hospital in Naperville and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), she served on RIC’s Board of Directors.

Ms. Barnes brought strong leadership, a sense of humor, boundless energy and tremendous passion to everything she did. She touched many lives throughout her life, both personally and professionally.

Ms. Barnes was predeceased by her parents, Walter and Wanda Czajka, and her sister, Andra. She is survived by her children, Jeff, Erin, and Brian Barnes; her sisters, Linda (John) Stebbins, Donna (Rick) Williams, Rhonda (Joe) Thompson, Laurna Czajka, and Trina (Craig) Baker; her partner, Sal Barrutia; and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Funeral Information

Visitation will be Saturday, January 21, 2017 from 2:00-6:00 pm at Wentz Concert Hall, 171 East Chicago Ave. in Naperville, IL.

A memorial service will begin Saturday, 6:00 p.m. at Wentz Concert Hall, followed by an informal reception. 

Interment: Private.

Arrangements by Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Naperville, IL.

For more information, please call (630) 355-0213.



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Donations Information

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to:

Augustana College, Office of Advancement, 639 38th St., Rock Island, IL 61201, (800)-798-8100, ext. 7423,


Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, RIC Advancement Department, 345 E. Superior Street, Suite # O-814, Chicago, IL 60611, (312) 238-1257,


Doctors Without Borders, 333 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001-5004, (888) 392-0392,

Donations Links:

Doctors Without Borders
Augustana College, Office of Advancement
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, RIC Advancement Department

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