Marjorie A. Sonnenburg, age 94, formerly of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully on April 25, 2020. She was born Marjorie Ann Faber on January 2, 1926 to Arthur and Emma (Dexheimer) Faber in Kiel, Wisconsin.
Marge graduated from Kiel High School where she played clarinet and marched in the Kiel High School band as the drum majorette. She studied at the Milwaukee State Teacher's College (now University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and graduated with her bachelor's degree in 1949, majoring in elementary education with a minor in art. With a desire to move further away from home, she began her teaching career in Waukegan, Illinois, along with her best friend and sorority sister. Marge realized her high school dream of teaching kindergarten, in a seven-year run in Hyde Park. She taught in the Illinois school system for 15 years, enjoying the diversity of children in her classes and the proximity to Chicago to enjoy special times with her close friends.
Marge completed her master's degree in education from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1958. During her Waukegan teaching years, she was reunited with a childhood acquaintance, Jack (John) Sonnenburg, at a wedding that brought their families together. In 1959, they were wed at the First Presbyterian Church in Kiel. Marge and Jack loved to dance and host friends for holiday open houses, and, summer picnics at their cottage on Pigeon Lake. Marrying an optometrist, Marge extended her love of fashion into eyeglass frames - having a collection of up to 30 frames at one point, to match every outfit. They loved traveling and spending time with their daughters, grandchildren and many friends. Together, Marge and Jack enjoyed 53 years of marriage.
Marge loved teaching, and taught elementary education in Sheboygan at Jefferson and Lincoln-Erdman in the early 1960s. After taking time off to raise three young daughters, she re-entered the Sheboygan school system with a focus on Special Education before being asked to lead Sheboygan's first English as a Second Language (ESL) program in 1978. She taught ESL at Sheraton, then Washington, until her retirement in 1987. She loved learning about the Hmong culture, and enjoyed their passion for learning.
Raising all daughters, she was blessed with four grandsons, and fortunate to be active in all of their lives. She enjoyed helping them with their homework, hosting Wednesday spaghetti nights, and keeping up with all of their mending needs and custom sewing projects. She and Jack loved taking them out to the family cottage at Pigeon Lake for sleepovers, marshmallow and wiener roasting, and lots of swimming. She followed her youngest grandson's football career through high school and college in recent years - going to as many games as she could to cheer him on, no matter how cold it got on the bleachers.
Marge enjoyed giving her time to many organizations and had a passion for volunteering and community. She was Worthy Matron and a Grand Officer for the Order of the Eastern Star, Auxiliary President for the Wisconsin Optometric Association, and was deeply involved with the Tripoli Shrine Animals alongside Jack - enjoying the summer parade activities and regional trips to Shrine Children's hospitals. Marge was a member of St. Luke's Methodist Church and a member of Rachel Circle. When a mission was identified to benefit children with AIDS in Africa, Marge knit hundreds of teddy bears. She loved dropping them off to Pastor Roger Clapp by the bag full, often sharing stories about each one. Marge volunteered at RCS for 32 years in their art therapy program, sewing many annual play costumes and decorating many stage sets along with helping clients develop their art skills and artwork for display at the annual Very Special Arts Show. Her work with RCS was recognized in 2017, when she received United Way's Sprit of Sheboygan County Volunteer Award's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Marge enjoyed her pulmonary therapy group at St. Nicholas Hospital over the last ten years, and had so many people that cared about her. She lit up a room with her youthful spirit, positivity, and generous heart. She was a natural teacher and artist, and had a passion for all types of crafts. She loved to cook and bake everything from scratch, and having lived through the Great Depression, she was a master at improvising. She maintained her sense of curiosity and adventure until the end - which kept her 94 years young. She loved to read, participate in activity and craft time, patiently color in very intricate coloring books, and play numerous games and puzzles on her iPad. She was blessed to have a long, full and healthy life, and a family that loved to spoil her.
There are so many people that touched her life and brought her joy over the years, and we are forever grateful. We would like to send a special thank you to the caring staff at Harvest Home, Heartland Hospice, Pastor Roger Clapp, staff and friends at St. Nicholas Hospital Pulmonary Therapy, and RCS.
Marge was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Jack (John) Sonnenburg, and her sister Orvella E. Faber. She is survived is by her three daughters, Amy Doepke (Fitchburg, WI), Peggy Sonnenburg (Valders, WI), and Betty (Rory) Wettstein (Sheboygan, WI); grandchildren Justin Wettstein (Chicago, IL), Matt Wettstein (Fond du Lac, WI), Randall Wettstein (Sheboygan, WI), Brandon Doepke (Fitchburg, WI); great grandchildren Peyton and Andrew Wettstein (Sheboygan, WI).
A celebration of life ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at Ballhorn Chapels Funeral and Cremation Care Center, 1201 N 8th St. in Sheboygan. Visitation will be on Saturday at the funeral home from 12:00-3:00pm. For everyone's safety, the family is asking that those who attend wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Marge's memory may be made to RCS Empowers