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Sonia Irene Johnson 1940-2021


On February 1, 1940, Sonia Irene White was born to Joel and Lorraine White and the world would never be the same. The second of 5 children, she would go on to touch the lives of thousands, both directly and indirectly. On May 5, 1962, a sunny, unseasonably warm Saturday, Sonia let the world know that she would spend forever with the love of her life and best friend when she married Roby Johnson. They would go on to show everyone just how to fulfill vows the right way. They walked hand in hand through heartbreaks and triumphs and set an example for their family and community. Sonia taught so many, so much, and not always with direct lessons (but sometimes yes, lol) but by example.


She taught hard work and dedication with her 37 years at Collins Aerospace. Rising early to get in and do good work every day.


She taught kindness, empathy and generosity by always being there to support others in need sometimes in ways they wouldn't even know.


She taught strength and resilience, standing strong in the face of loss, adversity and injustice and leading her family through it with her husband.


She taught industriousness, managing finances and resources for a large family, making sure that no one went without.


She taught us to support dreams and creativity. She nurtured my mother's interest in sewing in design, even when it meant giving her the dining room table space to use in a crowded house or, later, walking in fashion shows to showcase and advertise her business. As a result (plus her crazy talent), my mom has owned her business for 38 years.


She taught unconditional love, opening her arms, heart and home to her extended family and others. Making sure that those she loved knew they were always welcome with her.


She taught us how to fill a home with love and delicious food, giving us recipes that will stand the test of generations (and make us the envy of all potlucks). When you create a legacy like that, though, your loss rocks the people who love you deeply. There are holes in our hearts now that we have to fill with her memories instead of her presence and it hurts. It's amazing though, the way she will remain with us in many ways, large and small. Every time I make her mac and cheese (add milk until it just almost covers the macaroni mixture, she said...no measurements), when I find my best friend to exchange wedding vows with and when I see her face in my daughter and know she will be with me forever.


Sonia "Toni" I. Johnson


Sonia Johnson (née White), of Rockford passed away July 21, 2021 surrounded by family. She was born February 1, 1940 in Beloit, WI the eldest of five children born to Joel and Lorraine White. Sonia moved to Rockford in 1950 from Muskegon, Michigan with her family.

She attended Rockford Public School and graduated from East High School, later to attend Rock Valley College and graduate from OIC Institute.

She married Roby Johnson Sr., May 5, 1962 in Rockford. They would go on to have 12 children.

Sonia was employed as a material handler by Collins Aerospace for 37 years before retiring. She was a member of Pilgrim Baptist Church serving as the president of the Deaconess Board, a member of the Usher Board, a part of the Lydians, and the Mass Choir. She was a board member at OIC and a member of local UAW 592.


Sonia leaves to cherish many loving memories, her husband and partner of over 60 years Roby Johnson Sr; Gregory (Cheryl) Johnson; Wendy (Dwight) Davis; Jeffrey Johnson; Kimberly (Duwayne) Morgan; Robert (Jacqueline) Johnson; Roby Johnson, Jr; Lori (David Sr.) Thompson; Jennifer (Anthony) Grier; 32 grandchildren; several step grandchildren, a host of great grand and great great grandchildren; sister, Frances Banks, and brother, John Russell (Doris) White; daughter in law, Felicia Johnson; and numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and special friends. She was predeceased by her parents; two sons, Danny “Skip” Johnson and Mark Johnson; daughter, Ingrid Yvette Johnson; sister, Felica Pryor; brother, Joel White Jr; and a lost pregnancy that she would always hold dear in her heart, Barbara Jo.