Retired South Central Judicial District Judge Sonna M. Anderson has died. She was appointed to the bench in 2003 and served until 2018. A University of Denver College of Law graduate, she was admitted to the N.D. bar in 1985. Services will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at First Lutheran Church in Bismarck.
Sonna was born to Harold and Corynne (Olson) Anderson on January 13, 1958. The Anderson family lived on Catherine Drive and the children attended Northridge Elementary, Hughes Junior High and Bismarck High, but Sonna had the distinction of moving to the new Century High School her Senior year and was in that first graduating class of 1976.
She enrolled at UND that fall. While at UND she became more interested in her Norwegian heritage and took language classes there and spent one year aboard in Norway. She lived in Trondheim (78-79) and studied at a Teachers College and rented a room with the Meistad family. She became fluent in Norwegian and visited many relatives there. In 2000 she returned to Trondheim with a husband and was again hosted by Nils and Elsie.
Sonna graduated Cum Laude in 1981 from UND receiving a BS in Business and a minor in Norwegian. She returned to Bismarck and was hired as a legal clerk at the ND Attorney General’s office, then headed up by AG Robert Wefald. She worked extensively on the ARC lawsuit. She was certain the world had more to offer than the confines of Bismarck, so she enrolled in the University of Denver Law School in 1982. During law school she also worked at the Mountain States Legal Foundation and researched and briefed on cases involving land use across the west.
She received her JD degree in 1985 and interviewed in Denver and Washington DC. But North Dakota kept calling her name and she decided the “big city” was not what she was looking for. She clerked for US District Court Judge Patrick Conmy for 2 years and in 1987 joined her father in the practice of law as “Anderson & Anderson”.
She inherited a deep calling to community service from her father and followed in his footsteps in many endeavors in those formative years. Sonna was actively involved in the Bismarck & ND Jaycees, Kiwanis, Big Brother-Big Sister, Bismarck-Mandan Chamber, ND March of Dimes, P.E.O. AJ chapter, Sakakawea Girl Scout Council, Badlands Trail Riders, First Lutheran Church, Western ND Synod Council, Camp of the Cross, served 10 years on the Bismarck School Board and campaigned for a seat in the ND House of Representatives (while pushing Sigurd in a stroller). She might have been the president, chairman or leader of those groups, but she worked beside every other volunteer and got her hands dirty too.
Judicial ethics required that she remove herself from many of those volunteer efforts, to serve as a District Court Judge for the South-Central District for 14 years. She was first appointed by then Gov. Hoeven in late 2003. She regrettably submitted a letter of resignation to Governor Burgum for medical reasons, effective June 30, 2018. But the years of service to others in this community served her well every day that she put on the black robe and held peoples’ lives in her hands. It was an awesome job, with awesome responsibilities and awesome rewards.
When she returned to Bismarck, she joined the local Sons of Norway, Sverdrup lodge. With little coaxing, she eventually made time in her schedule and took over teaching the beginners language class. She spotted one young man who seemed to have similar interests in his heritage and was younger than most of the class. Jerry Saude and Sonna Anderson were married on June 29, 1996. Sigurd Dalton Saude was born in August 1997 and Bjorn Anders Saude in Sept 1999. Sigurd and Bjorn also attended Northridge Elementary and Century High. In 2015, Sonna received a phone call came from a stranger asking if we would consider hosting an exchange student? So, a third son, Nikolaj Ringgård, joined the family for that school year. Niko returned to Copenhagen Denmark and we are thankful to his parents for lending him to our family.
Sonna and Jerry built a home and hobby farm on some acreage north of Bismarck. Solbakken Farm exposed Sonna to sheep, cows and horses and the stories that go along with their care. Sonna relayed many of those adventures in emails and Facebook posts to her friends. Starting from scratch, they had a blank canvas to plant on and they did. Gardens and trees gave Sonna time to relax. She posted many beautiful photos of the seasons at Solbakken.
Sonna’s death leaves an emptiness in so many lives, but we know that she touched many more lives in her volunteer efforts in the community, the church and her legal profession. Remembering her are; her husband, Jerry Saude, sons Sigurd and Bjorn. Her brothers and sisters-in-law; Eric and Jeri of Carmichael CA, Odin and Pilar of Bismarck; Thor and Ann of Frisco TX. Jerry’s family; John and Kay of Ada MN, Jim and Carol of West Fargo ND, Tim of Glyndon MN, Terry and Kathy of Wilmington NC and Tammy and Marty Schoenfeld of Fargo ND. Nieces and nephews- Jesse (Alex) Anderson, Christopher Anderson, Erica Anderson, Emily (Taylor) Ashley, Corynne Anderson, Harold Anderson, Gabriel (Jennifer) Saude, Ashley (Chris) Johnson, Jamie Saude, Jason (Sarah) Saude, Noah Schoenfeld and Grifin Schoenfeld. She is also survived by her mother’s siblings; Sydney (Peggy) Olson and Christine (Daryl) Peterson. The Anderson and Olson first cousins number more than 60. Sonna also leaves behind a host of relatives in Norway who are as dear to her as her first cousins.
The family will be directing undesignated memorials to the ELCA youth camp- Camp of the Cross, near Garrison. They have a major building project ongoing.