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SAULT STE MARIE, Mich —If you happen to see a luminous light, floating down the middle of Ashmun Street in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and a warm glow rises within you, you can bet it's the spirit of one of the most beautiful, loving, heartfelt members of our community. With deep sadness, many of us are going to miss the kindness and charm of Sonja Ann Norris, senior citizen, resident of Avery Square, advocate, and generous volunteer of Sault Ste Marie.

Sonja, after 77 years of life, decided to move on to the next world to be with the God she felt so connected to on Feb. 13, 2015, after undergoing open-heart surgery in Petoskey. It was probably Sonja's plan to slip away when no one was looking, as she so loved life and life so loved her!

Sonja was born to the late Hobart E. Norris and Jane C. (Johnson) Norris in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, on Sept. 9, 1937. She spent her early years on Sugar Island and often reminisced about her time there. She graduated Greenville (Ohio) High School and attended Ohio State University. She graduated with a BA from Earlham College (Indiana). Sonja attended Montessori school and loved working with children. In the US she worked as a social worker, and abroad in Norway as a teacher. Sonja lived in many places over her life including England, Texas, Iowa, Arizona, and Nebraska - always in search of ways to help others, including veterans and refugees. Sonja dedicated her life to God and never hesitated to share his word, sometimes spontaneously…if you were lucky and her eyes were bright that day.

Sonja is best known for the volunteerism and community service she dedicated her life to. In recent years she was on the Sault Ste Marie DDA Board, was Curriculum Assistant Chair for the LSSU Elder Continuing Education Program, and volunteered with the United Way, Salvation Army, War Memorial Hospital, Chippewa County Historical society, Sault STARS Theatre, and was a member of the new Cultural Diversity Team, to name a few. She was very eloquent and wrote for the Avery Square Communicator and the Sugar Island Quacker.

Behind the scenes, Sonja helped organize and raise money for the city's Christmas parade, Halloween party, Oktoberfest, Sidewalk Sales, and so many other community events. In front of the scene, you could find her in one of her many sparkly, brightly colored outfits, gracefully moving through the crowds, welcoming and complimenting EVERYONE!

Sonja was especially proud to have had a winning racehorse named after her by her dear niece Sylvia, and the accomplishments of her nieces and nephews - and how she loved cooking for them.

Sonja preceded in death by her parents, Hobart and Jane Norris.

She is survived by her brother Michael Hobart Norris; two nephews Brad (Kelli) Norris, Jeff (Cherylee) Norris; one niece Sylvia Norris; three great-nephews Jeremy Norris, Logan Norris, Luke Norris; three grand-nieces Whitney (Joseph) Antley, Kelsey Norris and Madison Norris; numerous cousins; and many dear friends.

Funeral services 11 a.m. Monday at the Stubbs-Conner Funeral Home, Waynesville, Ohio. Burial will be in Miami Cemetery, Corwin. The Sault Ste Marie celebration of her life will be announced at a future date. Condolences at In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Salvation Army or STARS Theatre of Sault Ste Marie.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Daily Advocate from Feb. 18 to Feb. 19, 2015.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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