Sonja Karen Suomela

April 6, 1937 ~ November 15, 2018 (age 81)


Sonja Karen "Sunshine" Suomela, 81, of Virginia, MN, passed away peacefully on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at Diamond Willow Assisted Living in Duluth, MN.
Sonja was born in Grand Rapids, MN to Anton and Irene (Lindholm) Lepisto on April 6, 1937. She was raised on a dairy farm in Calumet, MN and attended Greenway High School, graduating in 1955 with honors. She then spread her wings to discover opportunities in Duluth, landing a job performing administrative duties at the Duluth Air Guard. She met Ronald Suomela in 1956 in Duluth and the two were married October of that year. They were married for 19 years.
Sonja worked at the family-owned refrigeration and radiator shop in Duluth, MN. She then moved to Gilbert, MN in 1978 and began a career in Accounts Payable at the Virginia Regional Medical Center, retiring in 1998.
Sonja was a lady who was always on the go. She enjoyed traveling to many areas of the world and would stop at nothing to jump in a car for a road trip anywhere, from seeing her grandchildren to exploring an uncharted territory. Her saying was "have toothbrush, will travel." Sonja enjoyed fishing, partridge hunting, being near water or walking in the woods, and gardening. She took every opportunity to dance and sing due to her love of music, especially the country genre. Frequenting live local bands on the Iron Range, Polka dancing, and attending classes, such as Country Line Dancing, were some favorite activities, earning her another nickname, "Two-step Sonja".
The family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff of Diamond Willow of Lester Park Duluth for their exceptional care of Sonja.
Sonja was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Nancy Lepisto, as an infant, and Shirley Erickson in 2009; and special friend, Frank Gruden in 2017.
Sonja is survived by her son, Robert Allen Suomela of Duluth, MN; daughter, Tracy Ann (Kenneth) Suomela Arola of Isanti, MN; grandson, Kyle Matthew (MacKenzie Wade) Truax of Virginia Beach, VA; granddaughter, Paige Karen Truax of Isanti, MN; sister, Eleanor Castellano; nephews, Mark Castellano, Mike (Susan) Castellano, Gary Erickson, Daniel Erickson and Brent (Mikki) Erickson; nieces, Patricia Castellano and Roberta (John) Carlson.
VISITATION: 11 am on Saturday, November 24th at Sunrise Funeral Home, 4798 Miller Trunk Hwy, with memorial service to follow at 12 pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Alzheimer's Association in Sonja's honor at


NOV 24. 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM (CST)

Sunrise Funeral Home and Cremation Services & Cemetery
4798 Miller Trunk Hwy
Hermantown, MN, 55811

Memorial Service

NOV 24. 12:00 PM (CST)

Sunrise Funeral Home and Cremation Services & Cemetery
4798 Miller Trunk Hwy
Hermantown, MN, 55811

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