Cover photo for Sonja Birkeland's Obituary
Sonja Birkeland Profile Photo
1946 Sonja 2023

Sonja Birkeland

September 12, 1946 — December 3, 2023

Belle Fourche - Dupree

Sonja Birkeland, age 77 of Belle Fourche and Dupree, died Sunday, December 3, 2023 at her home near Belle Fourche, with her loving family by her side.


The funeral service will be held 10am Monday, December 11, 2023 at the Pioneer Hall in Dupree.  Visitation will be held 4 to 6pm Sunday, with a 5pm public celebration service, at Leverington Funeral Home of the Northern Hills in Belle Fourche.  Interment will take place in Dupree Cemetery.


In lieu of purchasing flowers, memorials to the UCC Church in Dupree and Belle Fourche are requested.  Sonja was one who enjoyed plants in the home, so purchasing a plant and taking it to your home to enjoy in memory of her is also suggested by her family.


Sonja Jean Colborn was born September 12, 1946 in Crandon, Wisconsin.  She was the daughter of Ernest and Pauline (Cable) Colborn. At an early age, Sonja moved with her family to South Bend WA where she grew up and graduated from high school in 1965.  It was at the wedding of a friend, where Sonja would meet her future husband. United in marriage in 1965, Sonja and Gary were blessed with 58 years of marriage.  They were married in Anchorage, Alaska and to this union was born three children: Jay, Ramon, and Kelly.  After Gary was discharged from the Army, he brought his young bride from the trees and hills to the SD plains in Dupree.  It was quite the culture shock for Sonja but she adopted well after a few tough winters, living through an older uninsulated house and snow blocked roads.  But Sonja adjusted well, always determined, and strong, resilient, and brave.  After the children grew up she worked part time as a mail carrier, and as a kitchen cook for the Dupree school.  In 1972, Gary and Sonja built a house in Dupree, just in time for the arrival of their third child, Kelly.  Sonja loved that home, and she always enjoyed her flowers and hated the chickens that always scratched up her flowers.  She cooked many meals for Gary and his brothers when they were haying or working cattle.  She was also a legion auxiliary member and active in the UCC Church, and she liked to play darts. 


In 2000, Gary and Sonja built a new home 2 miles outside of Belle Fourche.  Sonja loved the Black Hills.  She loved dogs and cats too.  Willie was her special dog in her later years of life.  He watched over her and protected her from anyone who wanted to get near her, especially with medicine in hand.  Sonja loved getting together with the women in the neighborhood, oftentimes meeting in the basement sewing room to chat and sew and quilt.  She enjoyed traveling with Gary and also taking trips back home to Washington to see her family. She loved springtime work outside, especially planting flowers.  At Christmastime, she loved decorating her entire home for the season.   Sonja was diagnosed with cancer 11 years ago, and for the past 7 years it’s been a hard-fought battle.  Through it all, Sonja never complained, and always showed great courage and strength.  The staff at Heartland Home Healthcare was very kind and compassionate toward Sonja, and so helpful.  Sonja was a graceful woman and a private woman.  She was generous and compassionate as well.  She was stubborn when she needed to be, and sometime that was the case with Gary.  She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.  She loved well, and she was well loved. 


Sonja is survived by her husband, Gary of Belle Fourche/Dupree; sons, Jay Birkeland of Rapid City, Ramon  (Robbi) Birkeland of Dupree; daughter, Kelly (Kevin) Keegan of Belle Fourche; 7 grandchildren, Randee, Brandee, Daxton, Raymie, Bailee, Clifton, Dru; 7 great grandchildren, Teigyn, Levi, Logyn, Hays, Paxtyn, Rory, Loxlee; sister, Sherry Wilhelm of Rochester WA; brother, Alan Colborn of WA; nieces and nephews.


She was preceded in death by her parents; great granddaughter, Leah Sayler; sister, Sandy Coma.



Celebration of Life Service

10:00 A. M. – Monday – December 11, 2023

Pioneer Hall

Dupree, South Dakota



Shawn Olson



“Come to Jesus”

"Sweet Baby Jesus"

Debra Leverington, soloist



Drew Bercier                                                 Ryan Murnion

Clifton Birkeland                                        Cade Ostenson

Daxton Keegan                                            Bradley Sayler



Dupree Cemetery

Dupree, South Dakota

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Sonja Birkeland, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Sonja's Visitation

Sunday, December 10, 2023

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Mountain time)

Leverington Funeral Home of the Northern Hills

715 National Street, Belle Fourche, SD 57717

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Sonja's Celebration in Belle Fourche

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Starts at 5:00 pm (Mountain time)

Leverington Funeral Home of the Northern Hills

715 National Street, Belle Fourche, SD 57717

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Sonja's Funeral in Dupree

Monday, December 11, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Mountain time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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