Sonya Hirschberg

Sonya Hirschberg

Sonya Hirschberg, of Shorewood, Wisconsin, formerly a longtime resident of Park Forest and Hyde Park, died on January 13, 2023. She was 84 years old.

Sonya was born in 1938 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Athanasius and Palegia (Sawchak) Leszunov. She attended South Side High School and later in life graduated with an associate degree from Saint Xavier University. After high school she took a job as a secretary in the chemistry department at Carnegie Tech where she met her soulmate, Gene, who was pursuing a Ph.D. at the university. They married in 1961 and moved to Park Forest, Illinois to build a family. Sonya was a loving mother and active in the community, serving as a Girl Scout troop leader, a ‘swim mom’ for Lincoln Trail swim team and was active at St. Irenaeus Catholic church. An excellent cook, she instilled in her children the importance of food traditions, particularly those stemming from her Russian heritage. She was a die-hard Cubs and Bears fan, never hesitating to remind her friends and family in Milwaukee of this affiliation.

In 2004, Sonya and Gene moved to Chicago to live in the Hyde Park neighborhood, a community they always admired. They lived in a condo at Cornell Village with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. They both enjoyed living in the city, attending the Chicago Symphony and the theatre, and dining at restaurants, including one of their favorites, Piccolo Mondo. After the passing of Gene, Sonya remained very active in the community and in the life of her children. She was an active member of the Hyde Park Union Church. She forged meaningful friendships with ‘the ladies’ of Cornell Village. She planned family trips to Whidbey Island and Door County, and took her own trips, including a cruise to Greece. Sonya moved to the Milwaukee area in 2017 to be closer to her family.

Sonya will be remembered for her commitment to providing a stable and loving home for her children, her never-ending love of her husband and her strength in forging a new chapter of her life after he died. We will never forget her approach to living. Anyone who knew Sonya knew her as a kind, beautiful, and unique person. She was straightforward, passionate about her beliefs, involved in politics, but always had an open mind and compassionate heart. She enjoyed an ‘occasional’ cosmopolitan, and loved her fish, her many birds, the beautiful patio flowers and artwork that graced her home in her final days. 

Sonya is survived (and greatly missed) by her children Julie (David) Swanson, Margaret (Mike) Hankenson, Steven Hirschberg, and her grandchildren Lee (Bekah) Swanson, Christopher (Tierney) Gray, her great grandchildren Leona and Sander Swanson, and her beloved cat Cosmo. Sonya is preceded in death by her husband of 43 years, Eugene H Hirschberg, her granddaughter Lavender Kieran, as well as her parents and siblings Daniel, Nicholas and Barbara Schmitt. 

The family would like to thank all the many caregivers that have helped Sonya live her last years with dignity and companionship. 

A memorial service for Sonya Hirschberg, a former resident of Hyde Park, will be held on Saturday, May 20 at 2:00 p.m. at Hyde Park Union Church, with reception to follow. The family wishes to invite her former neighbors and community members, who made such an impact on her life.

 Memorial contributions in Sonya’s memory may be made to Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest or Southern Poverty Law Center.

(0) entries

Sign the guestbook.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.