Elder John Sonnenberg Dies at Age 93

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott Church News staff writer

  • 14 July 2015

Article Highlights

  • Elder John Sonnenberg, a former member of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy, died on July 1 at his home in Salt Lake City. He was 93.
  • Elder Sonnenberg’s funeral was held July 9.

Elder John Sonnenberg, a former member of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy, died on July 1 at his home in Salt Lake City. He was 93.

Remembered as a man who lived by the motto “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33), Elder Sonnenberg’s life was one full of hard work and dedicated service.

Sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy on October 6, 1984, at the age of 62, he served in that capacity until he was sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on April 1, 1989. He was released on September 30, 1989.

He was born April 11, 1922, in Schneidemuhle, Germany, a few months after his parents, Otto P. and Lucille Mielke Sonnenberg, had joined the Church.

When he was six years old, he and his mother, older brother, and younger sister immigrated to the United States to join his father, who had moved there a year before in hopes of finding work. The family settled in the Chicago area.

In a Church News interview when he was called to serve as a Seventy, Elder Sonnenberg said that his firm conviction of the gospel came after he enlisted in the navy in 1942, during his third year at BYU. As he enlisted in the navy, an aptitude test qualified him to be sent to the University of Louisville School of Dentistry.

Elder John Sonnenberg.

While he was stationed at a base in Louisville, he attended church at the local branch. There, his testimony began to develop and he enjoyed being involved in service. While in Louisville, he met a missionary, Joyce Dalton, from Tooele, Utah, who was serving in the East Central States Mission. After she returned home from her mission and he completed dental school, they were married on November 26, 1947, in the Salt Lake Temple. They have seven children, 33 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.

“My wife and family are the sources of the greatest joy and support in my life,” he said in a Church News interview. “We all have a delightful time together. Our secret is doing things together.”

Elder Sonnenberg’s professional career included 37 years as a dentist in the Elmhurst, Illinois, area. His Church service included service as a stake missionary, high councilor, counselor in a stake presidency, stake president, regional representative, and chairman of the Chicago Illinois Temple committee.

“Any man can know for himself that this gospel is true by giving service,” he said during the October 1984 general conference. “When you serve the Savior, you grow in light and knowledge and intelligence. And as you get to know the people and see the magnitude of their souls, your testimony grows.”

Elder Sonnenberg’s funeral was held July 9.