SEASIDE, Calif. — Sonya Denise McLaren, 34; wife of LCDR Simon McLaren, US Navy, passed away on Tuesday morning, October 2. She had battled breast and liver cancer for four-and-a-half years and ultimately passed peacefully in her own home. In anticipation of this day, she had called upon the Lord Jesus as her Savior at the tender age of 5. She had walked with the Lord all of her life and was greatly concerned that others would come to know Him, too.
Born in Parkersburg, West Virginia, May 27, 1978, Sonya is the daughter of Evangelist Lars and Mrs. Phyllis Wessberg. She has three siblings: Angela Tozour (Kansas City, Mo.), Lanissa Fitch (Homosassa, Fla.), and Michael Wessberg (Kansas City, Mo.). Her husband Simon McLaren grew up in Alamosa, Colorado, the son of Brian and Delilah McLaren and older brother of Caleb, Jenna, and Forrest McLaren, all still residing in Alamosa, Colo.
Simon and Sonya have lived in Seaside, California, since 2007, Simon having been assigned to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. The two have been active members of Calvary Chapel in Monterey, and Sonya taught Sunday school there for a time.
Her interest in children’s ministry began when she was traveling with her parents in full-time evangelism. Her mother Phyllis would conduct nightly children’s meetings, while her father Lars was preaching revival. Sonya would assist her mom in those classes. During her college years at Pensacola Christian College (Pensacola, Florida), Sonya spent her summers as a counselor at Southland Christian Camp in Louisiana.
Upon graduation from college in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in legal office administration, Sonya worked in the front office for a medical doctor in Pensacola. Through a Bible study at the home of Pastor Jim Schettler (Campus Church, Pensacola, Florida), Sonya met and soon grew to love the man she would marry, Simon McLaren. The two were wed on January 31, 2004.
Sonya’s interests were varied: Bible study, travel, photography, knitting, crochet, coffee, “new” foods, board games (especially “Settlers of Catan”—a game in which here friends describe her as being “fiercely competitive with an ever-present smile on her face”). Her greatest love on earth was her husband Simon. She loved their many trips together, especially traveling to Europe with her loving mate and their close friends Daniel and Ani Young.
While Simon served in the US Navy, Sonya worked independently in real estate transaction management with many local brokers and agents. Coworkers describe her as being tenacious at the negotiating table yet marked by an endearing spirit and an “elegant smile”. She also worked as a Mary Kay consultant and was known for being a true model for the products she promoted.
When she contracted cancer, Sonya purposed to fight—not just for herself but for others. She became involved in cancer causes such as Monarch Cares, Relay for Life, and other cancer support and fund raising efforts.
To the very end, Sonya warmly affirmed her love for her Lord and her family. Her husband, parents, siblings, and in-laws were all present during her last week on earth. They describe her humor and her selfless love as being hallmarks of her heroic fight to survive.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 12 p.m. at the Calvary Bible Church 7160 Brush Lane in Alamosa. Interment will follow at the Alamosa Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alamosa Women’s Resource Center.
Arrangements are in care of Romero Funeral Home of Alamosa.