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OBITUARY: Walter “Wally” D. Sonnabend

Walter “Wally” D. Sonnabend, age 76, a Brillion resident, passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 9, 2020 at Brillion West Haven, Brillion, after a courageous battle with cancer.

He was born February 15, 1944 in Green Bay, son of the late Walter R.T. Sonnabend and Martha A. (Rosenbaum) Sonnabend. Wally was a graduate of Brillion High School, Class of 1962 and also graduated from Fox Valley Technical School as a journeyman machinist. He served in the United States Army from 1962 until 1970 in the 84thDivision from Manitowoc. He served 6 months active duty with 8 years as standby reserve. On September 17, 1966 he married the former Faith Behnke at the “Old Kasson Church”, St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church in Brillion. Wally retired from the Ariens Company in 2010 after 47 years, ending his career as the facilities manager.  Wally was also on the museum board where he volunteered for many years after his retirement. He was a member of the Brillion Fire Department from 1965 until 1990 where he served as secretary and retired as 2nd Assistant Chief. Wally was a Wisconsin DNR State Special Conservation Warden for 30 years, retiring in 1998, serving Calumet County and where he trained and mentored the new trainees. He enjoyed working with youth in different capacities. Because of his love for baseball, it led him to coach Little League and Babe Ruth teams as well as umpiring. Wally served his community as an alderman and was a member of the utility commission. He was an active member at St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church, serving on various boards and committees and as Congregational President. Wally was a lifetime member of the Brillion Conservation Club and was privileged to share his love of the outdoors by teaching well over 1000 students in the Hunter Education Classes. He was also a founding member of Marshes Chapter of Ducks Unlimited in Brillion. Wally enjoyed hunting and fishing, dartball, trap shooting, a good game of sheepshead with his card club, watching a Brewers or Packers game, but most of all he loved his family and especially looked forward to watching the grandchildren’s sporting and school activities, deer camp at the trailer and hunting and fishing trips.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years: Faith Sonnabend, Brillion; their children: David (Brigette) Sonnabend, Brillion, Erin (Kurt) Propson, Hilbert and Laura (Joe) Deba, Parker, Colorado; five grandchildren: Drake, Grant (special friend Macailey Zipperer) and Meghan Propson, Parker and Hilary Sonnabend; a sister: LaVern Burt, Green Bay; three sisters-in-law: Diane (David) Buboltz, Brillion, Deborah (Chuck) Wismer, Neenah, Susan (Richard) Hammond, Brillion; and a brother-in-law: Jim (Betty) Wyngaard, Brillion. Nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends also survive. He was preceded in death by a brother and sister-in-law: Elton (June) Sonnabend; a brother-in-law: Leslie Burt; a sister-in-law: Kristine Wyngaard; his father-in-law and mother-in-law: Alan & Bonnie (Lewis) Behnke; and other relatives.

Funeral Services will be held at 4:00 p.m. Thursday, August 13, 2020 at St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church, Brillion. Officiating at the Service will be Pastor Thomas Schmitt with private burial on Friday at Brillion Community Cemetery, Brillion. The family will greet relatives and friends at St. Bartholomew Lutheran Church, Brillion, from Noon on Thursday, August 13, 2020 until 3:45 p.m. Please follow signs and enter Southside doors and exit the building on the Eastside. Respect social distancing. Military Rites will be accorded immediately following the service by American Legion #126 of Brillion. A time for remembering will be held at the Ariens Stone Prairie immediately following the service on Center Road. The family would like to extend a special thank you to Pastor Mark Krueger for his many drive thru, patio and home visits.

A huge thank you for caring and generosity of spirit to West Haven, Heartland Hospice staff, and palliative care specialist Jennifer LaVia.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are welcomed to help establish a scholarship fund in Wally’s name. Online condolences may be made at

The Wieting Funeral Homes of Brillion & Reedsville is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.


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