Sonja Glee Hall Burkett

Honored by:Ronald Burkett
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Sonja Glee Hall was born in Sioux City, Iowa, on November 17, 1943, the first of four children (two girls and two boys). She was named after the Olympic figure skater and movie star Sonja Henie, who was famous during the 1930's and '40's. Her younger sister is JaNelle Roberta Hall Anderson, who is also listed in this directory. Their parents had lived in nearby towns in the northwestern part of the state; however, they met during college years at the University of Iowa. After their marriage in 1940, they farmed near Sioux City. Sonja and JaNelle's twin brothers, Ronald and Roger, live and work in the Sioux City area.

Sonja attended the Hinton Community School throughout elementary and high school and graduated as Valedictorian of her class in 1962. She was a member of the National Honor Society, was a guard on the girls basketball team, and played the flute in the concert band and the bass drum and piccolo in the marching band. She sang in several choir groups and received numerous awards for her leadership in those activities. She was a long-time member of the local 4-H club where she developed leadership skills and earned honors in sewing, cooking, and home furnishing projects. She was a member of demonstration teams that competed at the Iowa State Fair and she was elected to serve as an officer of the Plymouth County Girls 4-H. She excelled in the Country Girls Creed contest and won the county-wide competition twice. She also was selected the county's Better Groomed Girl on several occasions. She was active in her church youth group and often played the piano or organ for Sunday school. While a senior in high school, she was chosen Northwest Iowa Honey Queen and competed in the state contest held at Iowa State University.

She entered ISU in the fall of 1962 where she majored in home economics for general education. In her freshman year she became a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and held various offices within the collegiate chapter, among them scholarship chairman and rush chairman. During her junior year she was chosen as the founding sweetheart of Theta Xi fraternity and was also a contestant for lowa's Favorite Farmers Daughter. She was a member of Angel Flight and was a semi-finalist for Bomb Beauty during her senior year. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1966.

On June 18, 1966 she was married to Ronald J. Burkett who graduated from ISU in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. They had met as high school students at Hinton. During the 10 years that the couple lived in Texas, he earned a Master of Engineering degree from Texas A&M University. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.

While in Texas, Sonja was elected president of the Corpus Christi Alumnae Club of Alpha Chi Omega and later served as province president of the Texas-East District, assisting and advising four Alpha Chi collegiate chapters in that part of the state. The family moved to New Jersey in 1975 and resided there for 34 years. Ron retired in December 2009 from his position as director of corporate health, safety and environmental programs for C.R. Bard, a medical devices company based in New Jersey.

The couple was very active at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Westfield. Sonja served as secretary of the Church Council on two occasions, taught Sunday school and adult Bible classes, headed the Vacation Bible School Program, and co-founded the Extended Care Program of Redeemer's Christian Day School. She was president of the congregation in 2000 and 2001. She is a member of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, held numerous offices in the Junior League of Elizabeth-Plainfield N.J., and was elected to serve as president in 1984-1985. In February 2004, she retired after 18 years of public service as an aide to a New Jersey state legislator, handling legislation and fund-raising responsibilities.

Earlier, while in Texas, she enjoyed a career in journalism as a feature writer and editor at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and at the Beaumont Enterprise and Journal. She also was employed in the advertising departments of Central Power & Light and Gulf States Utilities, the electric power companies serving Corpus Christi, Beaumont and south Texas.

In September 2009, she and Ron retired to Bella Vista, Arkansas, where they are active in the Bella Vista Lutheran Church. Sonja served three years as secretary of the Board of Directors and facilitates a weekly women's Bible study group. In her leisure time, she enjoys reading and traveling with Ron.

Updated 03/06/2014