Jean Ann Sonju

July 27, 1935 ~ February 20, 2024 (age 88) 88 Years Old

Jean Sonju Obituary

Jean Anne (Chester) Sonju

Jean Sonju, 88, passed away peacefully at her home on Tuesday, February 20, 2024. She was born July 27, 1935, to Margaret (Hamilton) and Howard Elliott Chester. Jean was born, raised, and educated in Kalispell, Montana. She graduated from Flathead High School in 1953. She attended Northern Montana College of Education in Havre, graduating with a degree in education. Jean taught school in eastern Montana for two years before returning to Kalispell where she taught Kindergarten. She married Maynard Sonju on June 26, 1958. They lived in Columbia Falls for a brief period of time until Maynard was transferred to Libby, working for the Burlington Northern Railroad. They were blessed with five children, Tami, Steve, Joan, Rick, and Debbie. She was very active in her children’s lives helping with scouting activities and as a “room mother” at school. She also shared her love of books and reading with them. She would often walk the kids to the library, pulling the youngest ones in a wagon.

She was very involved in her community. She joined Sons of Norway in 1974 as a charter member and was a member until her death. She was also a member of the Libby MIA Writers Group. She wrote many poems and short stories. As a member of the writer’s group she helped to write and publish five books about the history of Lincoln County. She was a member of the Pioneer Society and the Red Hat Society. She served as the Queen Mum of the Red Hat Mama’s for several years. She was an active member of Christ Lutheran Church. Over the years she taught Sunday School, served as assisting minister and lector, organized the Genesis group as well as many other activities. Jean served as the treasurer for the Libby Community Thrift Shop for many years and loved to volunteer at the front desk of the store during business hours. She also loved to go to rummage sales looking for treasures and a good bargain.

Jean loved her family and her greatest joys were her nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her father, H.E. Chester; mother and step-father, Margaret and Fred Yaeck; her husband, Maynard Sonju; her daughter and son-in-law, Tami and Mark White; son, Steven Sonju; her sister and brother-in-law, Helen and Lee Mullen.

She is survived by her daughters, Joan Sonju and Debbie Sonju, son Rick (Dawn) Sonju all of Libby, her grandchildren Mariah Anderson, Austin (Ashley) Anderon, Jared (Kyla) Sonju, Jenna (Marcus) Mugford, Tyler Sonju, Ashley Sonju, Jeremy Townsend, Brianna White, Matthew White; great-grandchildren Maddox Collins, Westin and Everleigh Mugford, Ian and MacKenzie Buell, Oliver and Atlas Anderson, Castiel Rectenwald, Adalee Curtiss; sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Harold Malloy; as well as many nieces, nephews and friends.

She will be greatly missed by all who loved and knew her. Memorials may be made to Christ Lutheran Church, Libby Community Thrift Shop or Kootenai Pets for Life.

The Funeral service for Jean will be held on Friday, March 8 at 11:00 am at the Christ Lutheran Church. Arrangements are under the care of Schnackenberg Funeral Home of Libby, MT.  Online condolences and memories may be shared by visiting

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Memorial Service
March 8, 2024

11:00 AM
Christ Lutheran Church (Libby Cemetery)

Interment following funeral service
March 8, 2024




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