Carl J. Landsness

Carl J. Landsness

MADISON – Carl J. Landsness, age 69, passed away at his home, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020.

He was a Madison native, born on April 22, 1951, to Clarence and Arlene Landsness.

Carl graduated from Madison East High School in 1969, valedictorian of his class. He attained the highest rank of Eagle Scout. He went on to earn his BS degree in 1973 in Electrical Engineering at UW-Madison where he and Mike Leckrone shared their first year together in the UW Marching Band. He was also very active in Hoofers’ Outing Club. Carl married Mary Frances Longley in 1973 and moved to California where he started his career of 22 years with Hewlett-Packard. While there, he earned his Master’s in Electrical Engineering at Stanford. When HP opened their new facility in Corvallis, Ore., Carl and ‘Fran’ moved there where Carl was instrumental in the development of the Inkjet printer. Carl and Fran had two children, Eric and Monica. Carl was a person of intensity, whether it was his work, sports or fun. He loved his kayaking, snow skiing, bicycling and won first place in the Oregon Pole Pedal Paddle. Carl and Fran divorced in 1993. While previously struggling with mental health, Carl had his first crash into a deep depression.

Over the ensuing years, he traveled, living for a while in Flagstaff, Ariz., as well as in the famous Rubel Castle in Glendora, Calif. (prior to it becoming a museum), making close and lifelong friends along the way, before being drawn back to his hometown of Madison. Upon returning to Madison in 2002, Carl spent his time invested in making his community better, deeply connecting with so many others who shared his beliefs and values. He was a political activist, working with alders and police, co-chair with Friends of Starkweather Creek, involved with the Goodman Community Center, many dance circles, religious communities, choirs, Olbrich Gardens and festivals and The Center for Non-Violent Communication. Carl wanted to make the world better.

Carl deeply valued his friendships that he made in all his activities. His friends speak warmly of his compassion, support, kindness, listening, generosity, and deep commitment. Many lives were deeply touched by all he gave to them in his joy, playfulness, zest and love of life, as well as service. There was a lot of laughter, enjoyment and goofiness had by all. He loved Madison, especially “The People’s Temple” (the Wisconsin State Capitol), as he called it, where he facilitated small group tours of the entire building.

Carl continued to struggle on and off with bouts of depression. These pre-COVID activities are what helped maintain Carl’s mental health and well-being. He loved to take his now 101-year-old mother on outings all over the city, where together they enjoyed exploring and keeping up with all the city’s changes. Since COVID-19 and the inherent shutdown of all social activities, Carl lost his community connection and purpose. He became cut off from his large support group of loving friends and family who tried to look in on him and keep his body nourished, but it didn’t stop the inevitable slide into depression. He found himself unable to eat, became weak and was later found by dear friends in his bed, having died of natural causes. One of Carl’s friends summed it up best saying “Carl valued his freedom more than his life.” With COVID, he lost his choices and his freedom. Carl had a BIG brain and even BIGGER heart, and he will be missed by many. He accomplished his goal of leaving the world and many lives better because he was here. All who knew him, have never forgotten “Carl Stories,” where you shake your head in disbelief or roar in laughter.

Carl was preceded in death by his father, Clarence Landsness.

He is survived by his 101-year-old mother, Arlene Brunsell; son, Eric (Mebbie) Landsness; daughter, Monica (Gordon) Sansaver; four granddaughters, Emma and Rachel Landsness and Lily and Mia Sansaver; his sister, Cathy (Rick Nevill) Arends; brother, Larry (Annette) Landsness; and nieces Lisa, Lindsay and Abigail.

A 24-hr sacred fire vigil was held in his honor with his many friends coming together from all of the groups he was involved with.

A private family gathering will be held at a future date.

Memorials can be made in Carl’s honor to The Center For Nonviolent Communication at or Friends of Starkweather Creek at

Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East
Funeral & Cremation Care
5203 Monona Drive
(608) 221-5420