Life Story for
Sonya Pradell Baker
Sonya Pradell Baker was born on June 15, 1931 to Abe and Hannah Pradell and her big sister, Sheila, in Omaha, Nebraska. She was an unstoppable force for the next eighty-five years. She was unique. Her big, bright eyes and signature pageboy haircut always set her apart. As a teen she was already following her own path when she would sneak out to join her friends in the jazz clubs of North Omaha to see the greats of the day like Dizzy Gillespie.
In 1947, Sonya met Bob Baker on a blind date that would change their lives forever. She went on to study journalism at Northwestern University for three years, but came home to Omaha in 1951 to marry Bob and begin their great adventure together. Sonya gave birth to their first son, Scott, shortly before following Bob to Japan as he served in the Air Force during the Korean War. She was known by the commanding officers there as the uncontrollable wife of an officer who refused to attend required teas with other officers’ wives. Sonya preferred to explore the Japanese countryside on her bicycle and to play with her son.
Sonya had a taste for adventure and athletics. In the late 1950’s Sonya insisted that they go on the honeymoon they never had and made plans to visit Sun Valley, Idaho. That winter they boarded the Union Pacific train in Omaha and arrived in Sun Valley to learn to ski. That trip began an annual tradition that lasted for decades. Sonya’s love of skiing and the mountains became the gift that she shared with her children for the rest of her life and beyond. She was also an accomplished figure skater and shared that passion with her middle son, Bruce. She was an early adopter of jogging and ran religiously through the streets of Omaha. Her love of running and cycling was clearly passed down to her third son, Danny.
Sonya refused to be the typical homemaker of the 60’s and 70’s. She began the Baker family love affair with cool cars. Not to be stuck in a station wagon, Sonya was easily spotted driving her children around Omaha in a European or British two-seater convertible. Luckily, she was never stopped while stacking two children in the passenger seat or cramming one just behind the seats. As long as the top was down everyone was happy.
Eventually, Sonya and Bob realized their dream of building a home in Sun Valley. After the kids were out of the Omaha house she became a ski bum. Skiing every day that she could, Sonya racked up many 100-day seasons, often seen riding the last chair of the day to get as many good turns in as possible. She loved being outdoors in the sun of central Idaho. Many in the area knew her as that lady that ran and rode her bike up and down Highway 75 almost every day in the off-ski season.
Sonya loved to travel and was always making plans for the next escape. Whether to New Zealand to explore the countryside or to Europe to help navigate for Bob in vintage car rallies, Sonya was on the go. But being at home, sitting on the patio under a windswept blue sky was her favorite place. It was there that she got to be alone as well as with those that she loved most: her husband, her kids and their families, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Sonya was a sharp, smart, and witty woman… every day of her life. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She lived her life fully, in her own style. She was tough and kind and funny as hell. Sonya was on the go right up to the moment she moved on. Unstoppable.
Sonya got to celebrate her and Bob’s 65th wedding anniversary in March and her 85th birthday in June. All of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren got to visit with her this year before her passing on July 26, 2016.
Sonya was preceded in death by parents Abe and Hannah Pradell. Survived by husband Robert Baker; sons and daughters-in-laws Scott and Sandra Baker, Bruce and Christy Baker, and Danny Baker; grandchildren and spouses Kristin and Ben Spohn, Brett Baker and Evelyn Stevens, and Sally, Max, and Jackson Baker; great-grandchildren Parker and Calvin Spohn; and sister Sheila Rosen.
Sonya’s spirit will live on every time someone who loved her makes time for fun. Her family and friends will be gathering in the Sun Valley area for remembrance and celebration in late summer.