Paonia resident Sonja Karen Swanson-O'Connor passed away Friday, May 31, 2013, at St. Mary's Medical Center in Grand Junction. She was 71.
Upon Sonja's request, traditional services will not be held. However, her children will host a gravesite memorial for closure and all are welcome to attend at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 8, at the family plot at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Paonia, followed by a reception at the United Methodist Church in Paonia.
Sonja Karen Swanson was born to Henry R. and Martha Ellen (Hallar) Swanson on Feb. 3, 1942, in Paonia. She was raised on a fruit farm and attended school in Paonia, graduating with the Paonia High School class of 1960. Later that fall she married her grade school sweetheart, Maurice Guy O'Connor. They moved to Montana where they made their home in the Lolo Creek Valley. For the next 25 years she raised her family, later divorcing in 1985.
Sonja worked at Community Nursing Home which is now the Village Health Care Center, and was a private-duty caregiver in home health, memorably helping many elderly people in Missoula, Mont., for most of her working life. Two of those years she was a business partner for a collection agency of which she was very proud.
More importantly, Sonja was a devoted mother. She kept busy canning, making clothes and made sure to have her children involved in 4-H, church, Bible studies, youth groups and summer church camps. She was a loving and fun grandmother. She was an inspiration to many during her years in Montana.
In the fall of 2001 Sonja returned to Paonia to help with her mother's care and to be with her sister, Fiona. She went to work at the Chaco shoe factory until her retirement due to health problems.
She enjoyed sewing and going to the thrift store, and she loved antiques. She was a member of the United Methodist Church where she enjoyed volunteering at the thrift store, and she was a member of the Pitkin Mesa Club.
Sonja is survived by one son, Travis O'Connor and wife Nikki of Kenai, Alaska; three daughters, Melody Struna and husband Frank of St. Ignatius, Mont., LaVaun O'Connor of Grand Junction and Judy Goreham and husband Rob of Hoisington, Kan.; one brother, Henry Robert Swanson and wife Carol of Thornton; and two sisters, Fiona Swanson of Paonia and Judy Jones and husband Tim of Hendrickson, Va. Sonja is further survived by seven grandchildren, Michael LaForest, Brandon Nuss, Kelsi Nuss, Tiernan O'Connor, Danae Silsby, Trista Goreham and Royce Goreham; and great-grandson, Kaedrik Silsby; many nieces and nephews; and her longtime friend of 29 years, Dick Helean.
Sonja was preceded in death by her parents and infant granddaughter, Ruth Karen LaForest.
The family suggests memorial contributions be made in Sonja's memory to the Paonia United Methodist Church.
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Taylor Funeral Service and Crematory .
View the Internet obituary and sign the online guest registry at taylorfuneralservice.com.
Paid obituaryblog comments powered by Disqus