Frank Sonnek possessed voracious intellectual curiosity
Private service for Frank Sonnek, 85, of Aberdeen will be held at Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery in Aberdeen with Rev. Eldon Reich officiating.
Frank died peacefully at home with loved ones after a six-month, brave battle with esophageal caner on Saturday, April 13, 2013.
He was born March 5, 1927, in Marmarth, N.D., to Frank and Nena Ellen (Stuart) Sonnek. He was married to his beloved wife, Muriel Culp Sonnik for 60 years, who preceded him in death five years ago.
Frank was a member of the Dakota Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, with seven proven Patriot ancestors, and through his mother could trace his American lineage back to William Cecil who came to Maryland in 1665. He was an Army veteran of World War II and was a 60-year plus member of the Masonic Lodge and Yelduz Shrine.
Frank was a brilliant man with a voracious intellectual curiosity. He was a conductor for the Milwaukee Road/Burlington Northern Railroad for 45 years and was elected by his peers to serve as a union griever. His remarks in that capacity at the U.S. Senate committee hearing were published in the Congressional Record by Senator George McGovern at the time of the bankruptcy of the Milwaukee Road. He was the publishing author of magazine stories and prolific contributor to he Milwaukee Road blog regarding his reminiscences of early railroading and Marmarth days, one of which was republished in the Fargo Forum newspaper by a columnist.
He was the last cowboy and a great storyteller, who would tell limitless fascinating stories ranging from how to hay with a team of horses, how to break horses, how to ford his beloved Little Missouri River on horseback in a flood, to what it was like to ride the Badlands of North Dakota around Marmarth on horseback at a time when there were no fences, to how his Stuart relatives had nine lives, to how to build a root cellar, to what his homesteading North Dakota ancestors went through, to what it was like to work on steam engines. He could do anything mechanical, including building his own computers and installing his own central air conditioning.
Frank was a 50-year advanced class ham radio operator with the call letters KOJM and an FAA licensed aircraft mechanic. He had a great sense of wonder at life and all God’s creation and was especially grateful that he lived long enough to see marvels such as the Internet.
Frank is survived by his children, Susan (Robert Frisbie) Collins of Katy, Texas, and Frank (SSG Anthony Pryor) Pryor-Sonnek of Vacaville, Calif.; and two grandchildren, Elizabeth (Capt. Colin Harris) Collins Harris and John (Heather Ford) Collins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Muriel Culp Sonnek and one sister, Eileen Sonnek Fricke.
Carlsen Funeral Home and Crematory of Aberdeen has been entrusted with the arrangements.