Dr. Johann Sonner

     Dr. Johann Sonner, long-term resident of Chapel Hill, passed away on Jan 11th, 2018 of pneumonia at the age of 93.  


     Johann was born on May 3, 1924 in Munich, Germany to August and Maria Luise Sonner. He was in the Austrian signal corps in WWII, and was a POW in Russia. In 1954, he earned his doctorate from the University of Munich.  He married Ilse Rakus on January 12, 1957, and they moved to Dayton, Ohio that same year, where he worked at the Wright Air Development Center.  He later accepted a teaching position at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. In 1967, he and his family moved to Chapel Hill, where he was a professor of mathematics at the University of North Carolina with a focus on set theory for 27 years.


     Johann was known as Hans to friends and family.  Hans was a small plane pilot and flight instructor based at Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill and a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association. He maintained his own cars and most everything in his house, and tinkered in his workshop on a variety of wood, metal and electrical projects, including building a Bensen gyrocopter and most of a Bede BD-4 kit airplane. He loved to camp and go to the zoo.  


     Hans married Betty Abramson on June 11th, 1994, and soon after retired to become a world traveler, going to Costa Rica, Thailand, Egypt, Europe and more; though his favorite place was always his wooded home with the pond in Chapel Hill. 


     He is survived by his wife Betty Goldyne Sonner, son Norbert George (Sarah Brinkley) Sonner, daughter Helga Maria (Jay Smith) Sonner, step-daughters Paula Lynn (Tommy) Carson, Karen Dayle Lunsford (Jeffrey) Haas, and Diane Abramson (Britt) Pons; sister Luise Didring of Kalmar, Sweden, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Ilse Rakus Sonner. 


     His ashes will be interred at UNC Memorial Grove, located at the corner of Country Club and Raleigh Rd., adjacent to the campus cemetery on Sunday the 21st of January, 2018 at 1 p.m. See https://fo.unc.edu/real-estate-development/property-office/memorial-grove/ for map and parking information. 


     In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in his honor to the NC Zoo Society at http://nczoo.mybigcommerce.com/honorariums-and-memorials/ .