Sonja Ann Garza
July 18, 1965 – June 2, 2020
Much loved by her family and friends, Sonja Ann Garza passed away on June 2, 2020. She was born July 18, 1965 in Houston, Texas, to Florentino Garza and Alice Martinez-Garza Ramos.
Sonja grew up in Houston with her parents and three siblings, Lisa Ann Garza, Florentino Garza Jr. and Anthony Jose Garza. She was an excellent sister, friend, teacher, journalist and enjoyed running in marathons. She graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts Degree - with a major in Journalism and a minor in Radio-Television. Sonja began her career as an intern at the Houston Chronicle during the summer of 1989 and upon graduation, soon accepted a position in Beaumont, Texas from 1989-2000. She was a reporter and assistant City Editor for the Beaumont Enterprise, producing award-winning general news and feature stories. From 2000 – 2009, Sonja moved to San Antonio, Texas to become a reporter/ criminal justice editor for the San Antonio Express-News.
She successfully led a highly productive team of reporters who chronicled crime, court cases and disasters in the seventh-largest U.S. City. Sonja met and married Ronald Jaap on March 1, 1996 and after retiring from the San Antonio Express, she moved back to Houston, Texas went back to school to earn a teaching certificate for English and Journalism. Upon graduation, she accepted an English Language Arts and Journalism position in the Fort Bend Independent School District. There she taught six ESL classes, served as a student publications’ adviser, produced the yearbook and newspaper for 2012- 2019.
Sonja enjoyed running and completed several marathons and enjoyed her life with many friends who shared the same desire to travel all over the world. Her love for fine art and music graced the décor in her sweet home. Sonja enjoyed entertaining her family and many friends and was an amazing cook. Her loving hospitality, infectious smile and laugh made her a joy to be around.
She was an intelligent, strong woman who would voice her opinion with passion when needed. She was always generous, kind and fun to all who knew her. She absolutely loved her dogs Maddie and Ellie whom she expected to greet her in heaven!
Sonja was an award-winning journalist with solid reporting, writing and editing skills and an accomplished teacher who focused on student-centered learning. Some of her accomplishments include: She was awarded the highest honor for the Hearst Newspaper Division and earned the Hearst Eagle Award, the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, awards in feature writing and specialty reporting.
She was awarded the Employee of the year at the Beaumont Enterprise. She also volunteered for the “Houston Chronicle Classroom,” a Houston ISD advanced placement journalism program where she assisted in recruiting and evaluation students for the next year program.
Sonja is survived by her loving siblings; Lisa Ann Garza, Florentino Garza Jr and Anthony Jose Garza; her nieces and nephews, Lauren Ashley Arizmendi, Drew Noel Arizmendi, Audra Leigh Arizmendi, Reid Alexander Arizmendi, Layla Joy Harkey, Jeremy Hunter Garza, Stephanie Lane Garza and Jennifer Angelika Garza; and sister in-laws Krystan Garza and Sandra Garza plus numerous cousins.
Sonja was preceded in death by her parents Florentino Garza and Alice Martinez Garza Ramos whom she has joined in heaven and will lay to rest next to her father at the Lawndale Cemetery.
Sonja will be missed by all those who knew and loved her. Plans are in the works to create a scholarship in Sonja Ann Garza’s name.
Monetary donations to assist the family will be greatly appreciated. A benevolent box will be available at the memorial.
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Sonja Ann Garza
June 27, 2020
I knew Sonja from the years we worked at the Beaumont Enterprise. She was smart and savvy and it was no surprise she later became successful as an editor. We ran the Houston Marathon together one year. When we were training, I shared the joke that there are two halves to a marathon: the first 20 miles and the second 6 miles. It's not a joke at the actual 20 mile mark but I had no doubt Sonja would finish her first marathon without stopping. She had a lot of grit in that way. Sonja laughed a lot, whether it was in the newsroom or hanging out with the Enterprise crew at the Hoffbrau restaurant or at the parties she and Susan hosted when they were roommates. She had a great sense of humor. Sonja really covered a lot of ground in her lifetime with her career and her friendships. I feel very fortunate to have been on part of that run with her.
June 25, 2020
Our friendship began 35 years ago as I started my new job at Eckerd Drugs. Sonja worked in cosmetics and I was in the camera department. Who knew that a part-time job would lead to a lifetime of friendship...but it did.
Over the years we shared everything from clothes and jewelry to fun evenings going out on the town. Our mutual interest in running led to logging countless training miles, many long distance race events and even a couple of marathons together. We enjoyed a trip to Panama City Beach, Florida...twice. Once in the mid-80's and again in 1993, as well as a trip to Pedernales Falls and Enchanted Rock, hiking "The Crack", together with our husbands. So many memories...both good and not so good. Marriages, divorces, weight gain and loss, border collies, employment changes and moves from different towns taking us different directions in our lives. We always stayed in touch and shared the current happenings in our lives. Although it has been 8 years since we last visited in person, there are no words to describe how I will deeply miss our occasional telephone chats and texts which kept us connected and in-touch over the years.
The world is a lesser place without your quirky wit and caring heart. Until we meet again...rest easy, sweet Sonj...I love you, my dear friend.
Melinda aka Mel
June 25, 2020
My friend, I love you. I am so sorry to lose you way too soon, because we had a lot more to share. Thank you for all of the wonderful memories, from our time in Beaumont, especially. I treasure them.
I remember our runs around the neighborhood, and our long talks afterwards around your kitchen table, with your dogs always nearby, and how we joked and laughed. We had so many fun outings with our friends. You gave me a lot of support during challenging times, and when we became roommates, I got to live in the wonderful house on Parsons Drive!
Later, I recall our fun road trip to New Orleans, to attend Pete and Beth’s wedding reception!
I remember how you always outran me every time we ran together, and in every race - including the 20 K you talked me into.
When you and Ron moved to San Antonio, I loved it when Steve and I visited you in your lovely home, and how supportive you were when I decided to stay home and raise my children - coming to visit after I had my first child, coming to my baby shower.
You were my best friend for years, and at a time in my life that I remember very fondly.
I am so sorry I can’t see you now - and sing to you. Much love to Lisa, Tino and Anthony, and all of your family.
June 25, 2020
Sonja and I first met about 50 years ago in first grade and spent the next 12 years in school together. We were very close friends for a very very long time. We even lived together in our first apartment before she moved to Beaumont and I married.
Happy memories I clearly have are of Sonja and me blasting music in our apartment running around getting ready for a night of dancing and being young and uninhibited.
I will always treasure our friendship and time we had together and wished we remained closer as time past too quickly.
Sonja you had a beautiful soul and loving spirit gone too soon but will remain in our hearts forever. Love you Sonja.
June 24, 2020
No one can prepare you for a loss; to lose you comes like an unsettling summer squall.
For nearly three weeks now there's this hole where my heart used to be.
My condolences, respect and love to Lisa, Tino and Anthony- and all of your family.
May you find peace, Sonja.
June 23, 2020
I remember my Peachy best friend with much love But mostly I see a little girl full of life with shining eyes God take good care of her My prayers are with you Mrs Torres
June 23, 2020
I had the opportunity to talk with Sonja a couple of times in the last six months I told her that I loved her and the Garza family, that was truly a blessing. I pray for y’all and hope you know my deepest condolences are with the family.
Peace And Love,
Cynthia Pommier Smith
June 21, 2020
My dear Sonja! This is still unreal to me.. Highlighting the good times with you leaves me with PLENTY of memories- like you being my maid of honor; the after party at Courts of Beaumont!!😂😂; our Cruise together; and most of all you making sure I was always OK! No one was good enough for me!! 😂
I love you Sister! I miss you soooo much Songi’