Sonja Elizabeth Cornell

May 7, 1954June 2, 2021

Sonja Elizabeth Cornell died peacefully on June 2, 2021, surrounded by loved ones after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. She was 67.

Sonja was generous with her time and energy. She was loved as a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and educator and known as a friend and for her generosity. Sonja retired from teaching in June of 2016 from Waverly Community Schools, after teaching for 27 years. She held Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Early and Elementary Education as well as many additional credits in administration. She conducted herself with competence and compassion and will be missed by her fellow educators and by her students. She especially loved the time she spent teaching a reading recovery program.

Friends and family appreciated her sense of humor, sharp wit and especially getting her to “hoot” with laughter. Sonja nurtured her Swedish heritage with elaborate meals, keeping family traditions alive and hosting memorable get- togethers. She was an enthusiastic hostess who was always ready to give of her time for socializing and spirited conversation. Sonja was also an avid orchid lover with a gift for growing a unique and wide range of plants. Her sunroom was like a miniature version of the MSU Orchid Society annual show. And Sonja was very proud of the skin care products she developed and then made for herself and friends. Sonja will be greatly missed by her daughter, Sara Wilson; granddaughter, Paige; son-in-law, Shelby; siblings, Peter and Christina; brother-in-law, Alan; niece, Kerstin; and nephew, Andrew; along with her many cherished friends.

A celebration of Sonja’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in Sonja’s name to Hospice of Lansing, The Greater Lansing Orchid Society or Waverly Community Schools.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Sonja Elizabeth Cornell

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June 9, 2021

Sonja was the first to come knocking at my door when I moved into her neighborhood. Her smile and good cheer brightened each day as she walked past, or stopped to chat for just a moment, often at 7 a.m. as I was leaving for work. All her neighbors will truly miss her.

Marsha Flynn

June 8, 2021

Sara, my sincere sympathy in the passing of your Mom. She sounded like a wonderful person, no surprise as I'm grateful to know her equally wonderful daughter.
Although you will miss her greatly.... my hope as time passes, it will be the many fun & special memories that keep her in your heart and life forever.

Maren DeLaitsch

June 8, 2021

Sara, Shelby and Paige, Peter and Christina and families, I am so very sorry for your loss of dear Sonja. Its extra hard to lose a sibling and a mother at this stage of life, with so much of middle age life, living and dreams still ahead. In our Scandinavian heritage we value light, and seek ways to add light to our world. Sonja was the epitome of light in our lives, wasn't she? Filled with positive energy, she always gave me encouragement as we faced so many stages in life together. Living apart as friends, we could always pick up right where we left off, without missing a beat. May her spirit of caring, creating, living positively, continually learning and love exist through all of you. God bless and keep you. Sending much love and hugs at this saddest of times. Maren Schmidt DeLaitsch

anne Stranberg

June 7, 2021

At such a difficult time, it's not the place to remember youthful silliness. Sonja and I were single together working in the Sears Tower (then). I learned a lot from Sonja, about style, grace, and humor. We did silly things, we sang silly songs but her core was always grace and style. I wish I had known her longer. What a treasure.

Pat Klein

June 7, 2021

Dear beloved family of Sonja,

I am truly sorry for your loss! My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. I had the privilege of working with Sonja at Waverly Community Schools when she was in a coaching position as well as when she was at Elmwood as a teacher. Sonja was always very positive and supportive of others. I can remember eating lunch with her in the teacher's lunchroom at Elmwood. She always had fun stories to share about her family! I truly enjoyed my time with her. She will be missed! Sincerely, Pat Klein

Janine Medler

June 7, 2021

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Sonja was always cheery and had a smile. I remember her friendly attitude in high school. Peace and prayers to the family.

Luisa DeBlasio-Ivans

June 7, 2021

Dear Sara & family,
We were very sad to hear about the loss of your mom, Sonja. It was shocking news...we are so very sorry.
We remember the many interesting conversations of raising our daughters in East Lansing.
Your mom was your cheerleader and confident. She was so happy & proud of you, her new grandchild & family. Sara, we know her loss is a large void for you. May the sweet memories of her spirit and everlasting love comfort you in life. Our deepest condolences to your entire family.
In friendship & love,
Richard, Luisa, Emilia & family ♥️

Frances (Martin) Sowders

June 7, 2021

Remembering HS, going to your house.. Santana♥️ Such a great laugh, your love for orchids. Still using my lip balm. Thanks for coming to David’s gig. You will be missed at future ones. See you later love. Frances (Martin)Sowders

Tina Evans

June 6, 2021

Sonja was a good friend of mine at ELHS. I will always remember her fondly and would have recognized her anywhere, she still looked the same to me. I shall miss not getting to see her in later years. My condolences to her family and it sounds like she was the same nice, caring person that I remember
Old Friend
Tina (Potter) Evans

Elizabeth Williams

June 6, 2021

She made me laugh just hearing her laugh. Loved her orchids. May she always be surrounded with them . R.I.P. Sonja.