Sonja Rose Nelson, 37, passed away peacefully on February 14, 2020, at Hope West Hospice, Grand Junction, CO. Sonja was surrounded by her loving family and the caring hospice staff of HopeWest. Sonja fought a courageous 18 month battle against cancer—being presented with the next treatment options, her reply was always, “bring it on, let’s do this”! Sonja, in her words, “just wanted to spend one more day with the people she loved”.
Sonja Rose Nelson was born on September 11, 1982 to Neal and Jennifer (Rau) Nelson in Ipswich, SD. Sonja was baptized at St James Lutheran Church in Leola, SD and confirmed at Grace Lutheran Church in Sisseton. Sonja spent the first three years of her life in Leola, SD, living just a few blocks from her Grandma and Grandpa Rau. In 1985 her family moved to Sisseton, SD. She attended school, kindergarten to 12th grade in Sisseton, graduating in 2001 from Sisseton High School. She was very involved in school and church activities, 4-H, dance and loved being with her friends. Sonja attended NDSU and eventually transferred and then graduated in 2009 from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, MN, with a degree in English Education. During a few years off between colleges, Sonja attended night classes with her mom in Sioux Falls, which both she and her mom graduated from SE Tech in floral design. They tested to become part of the SD Florists Association. Sonja occasionally had the opportunity to help at the Sisseton Flower Shop, which her parents own. She loved all flowers, especially gladiolas, and enjoyed creating her own designs at home. Attending classes with each other and the car rides spent together to those classes will be something her mom will always treasure. They cherished the opportunity to meet Pat Gustaf, their instructor, who was also the most amazing person and friend and we believe he greeted Sonja in heaven.
In 2010 Sonja moved to Denver, Colorado. While in Denver she worked for Buffalo Wild Wings where she met her husband Alex. In 2011, they moved to Palisade, CO and she worked for Garfield Estates in the tasting room. On November 1, 2013, Mathias Nelson Kllanxhja was born to Sonja & Alex in Grand Junction, CO. In 2015 Sonja, Alex and Matti moved to Durango. In August 2018, Sonja was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. They moved their family to Grand Junction where Sonja received wonderful medical care and they were surrounded by family support. On January 28, 2020, Sonja transferred to Hope West Hospice and received the most amazing care. Sonja and Alex were married on January 31, 2020 at Hope West, Grand Junction, CO. Sonja was a warrior to the end, entertaining us with her humor, flashing that smile that lit up a room along with her ever pleasant personality that was shining through.
Sonja’s smile could light up a room and she will be remembered for her humor. She was a wordsmith and it was reflected in her texts, cards, and her social media presence. Sonja also enjoyed attending music festivals, visiting breweries & wineries, and everyone knew she was the best hostess. Sonja loved to find the best sales & her coupon “clipping” was a game she played each week to see how much she could save. Sonja and Alex shared the love of cooking and enjoyed cooking together. Sonja was an old soul, showering empathy and kindness to everyone she met. Being with her son Matti was the greatest of her joys.
Sonja is survived by her loving husband Alexander Kllanxhja and 6 year old son Mathias Nelson Kllanxhja, Grand Junction, CO, her parents Jenny & Neal Nelson, Sisseton, brother & sister-in-law Ross & Aubrey Nelson, Tokyo, Japan; sister Lana Nelson, Minneapolis and nephews Roman, Jude and niece Emily Nelson. Grandmother Lila Rau, Sisseton. Aunt & Uncle—Pam & Marshall Seefeldt, Clark, SD,Uncle & Aunt—Randy & Kate Rau, Casper, WY, Uncle & Aunt—Morris & Cathy Nelson, Hot Springs, SD, lots of cousins.
Mother & Father-In-Law Karen Kllanxhja & Mike O’Boyle, Sister -In-Law Cecily Kllanxhja and Fiance Nick Salazar and Grandmother Fausta O’Boyle.
Upon Sonja’s death she joined her paternal grandparents Carter and Geneve Nelson, Maternal Grandfather Ervin Rau, Aunt Eunice Nelson, Cousin Jason Nelson and Grandfather Tish (Baba) Kllanxhja.
So many thanks are extended to the wonderful medical team at the Pavilion for their loving care through Sonja’s battle. Thanks are also extended to the staff at Hope West for her excellent care. And so much gratitude to the families from Holy Family School & Coyote Hockey for showing their love and support these past weeks.
Celebration of Life Service in Grand Junction, CO, will be Saturday, Feb 22 from 2:00-4:00 pm at the Redlands Community Center, 2463 Broadway, Grand Junction, CO.
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