Independent. Maverick. Dependable. Feisty. Kind. Singular. Shining star. Free. Runner girl.
These words about Sonia convey a lot about the life she led —a life she chose that was not bound by a conventional path.
Sonia grew up on a small farm in Beloit, Wisconsin, and was the second youngest of 5 children. She attended local schools and went on to the University of Wisconsin – Madison for her bachelor’s degree, which allowed her the opportunity to babysit her nephews while her sister attended chemotherapy. She was that way. She liked to help.
Sonia’s adventurous spirit and desire to be useful took her to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic for two years. Eventually, she would discover Colorado and make it her permanent home.
Here she met the love of her life, Steve O’Neill, and they joined forces. Together they helped many others become healthier and more balanced through their Pilates studio in Salida. A natural encourager, Sonia liked to get people moving, nudge them to set goals, and celebrate success with them. Sonia began working for the City of Salida, where she blossomed into her true self and was deemed a “shining light of happiness and joy”. She was promoted quickly to City Clerk.
Sonia loved her family. She loved her garden. She loved canning and baking and making granola. She was never happy being idle and would look for ways to help out. She had a beautiful singing voice. At least once a year, she would head back to the family farm to help her parents pick black raspberries or chop a tree up into firewood. She was a cat person AND a dog person, knowing that animals won’t disappoint in the way that humans sometimes can.
What Sonia loved best, though, having spent her early adulthood traveling and running around the world, was running in beautiful woods with her own thoughts or with her partner, Steve, breathing in the clean Colorado air. On the day she died, she loaded her dog into the car anticipating a good run.
She left behind her partner, Steve O’Neill, of Salida; father, Neil Walter, of Beloit, WI; brothers, Fred, John, and David Walter; sister, Sharon Milliken; sisters-in-law and brother-in-law and nieces and nephews and family who all loved and admired her. She joins her mother, Ann Walter, who passed before her, and leaves a hole where the runner girl used to roam free.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Sonia’s name to the Ark Valley Humane society. There will be a service in celebration of Sonia’s life in the near future. A notice will be posted once a date has been set. Arrangements were with Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home.
To send flowers to Sonia's family, please visit our floral section.
Ark-Valley Humane Society
C/O Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home, 203 E Sackett, Salida, CO 81201,