Cover photo for Sonja Tessari's Obituary
Sonja Tessari Profile Photo

Sonja Tessari

February 14, 1956 — December 4, 2023


Sonja Tessari

“All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you”

With Sonja gone, the world has lost a shining light, a powerful spirit, and a human of boundless compassion. She was a person who touched the lives of many different people in a wide variety of settings and contexts. Her interests and activities were rich and varied, which she embraced with enthusiasm and love, gathering a huge circle of friends and family who are profoundly affected by her untimely death of the rapid onset of multiple, complicated medical issues.

“Blessed are you pilgrim, if you discover that one step back to help another is more valuable than a hundred forward without seeing what is at your side”.
Sonja was a devoted wife to her late husband Stuart Duncliffe Gough, a loyal sister, aunt, great-aunt and friend. She journeyed bravely and faithfully with Stuart through his battle with cancer, and was a loving care-giver. She continued with a legacy of volunteering at Wellspring, where she offered peer support and counselling to those diagnosed with cancer as well as their families. She was also of valuable help to others’ grieving their own losses in her role as a bereavement support group co-facilitator. Sonja loved and gave with boundless generosity to all those around her: family, friends and those in need of support or guidance.

“The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness” 
A deeply spiritual person, Sonja undertook much reading, studying and contemplating in her pursuit of personal growth, health and mindfulness. She devoted much time and study to “The Healing Journey”. A great love of Sonja’s was her yoga, the teaching of which became a focus after her many years as a career professional. She enjoyed attending yoga retreats, travelling as far away as Salt Spring Island.

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole”
Sonja had a great love for the pets she cared for. Cruz, Tex, Kula and Utah were central to her daily activities. She was also always ready to step up and help with caring for other dogs in need of a retreat, whether fostering for Dog Guides, or her dedication over many years to one particular little dog: a dog who occasionally needed a place to stay, but had a critical need for a special place of calm.

“To ensure good health:  eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life”.
Sonja was always interested in her community, and the world. She spent much time downtown Oakville walking her dogs, and sitting in contemplation on the bench she had dedicated to Stuart at Tannery Park, overlooking Lake Ontario. She loved travel and undertook many exotic get-aways with Stuart over the years. They enjoyed their time-share at Walt Disney World in Florida, trips to the East Coast of Canada, Hawaii, and exciting European and Caribbean holidays. Sonja was involved for many years with walking and hiking groups, and during her years as a widow, she hiked many miles along the Camino Trail.  Most recently, Sonja completed a hiking tour in the Dolomites. 

“The glory of gardening:  hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.  To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body but the soul, and to grow plants for the joy in seeing them grow”.
Sonja was passionate about gardening and, over the many years spent in her home on Avon Crescent, she created a botanical gem filled with exotic beauty and charm. She shared the beautiful tranquil space she created in her back yard, hosting colourful garden parties, tours and wedding showers. For many years, Sonja was involved with the Horticultural Society and their annual sale of plants.

“Families are like branches on a tree; we grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one”
The lives of Sonja’s family were always important to her. She was committed and engaged in their welfare, marking their major milestones. Christmas, in particular, was a highlight to gather and celebrate with everyone.

Some of the many lovely words that have been expressed about Sonja exemplify how much her beaming smile, melodic laugh, contagious calmness, and radiant positivity had a profound impact on those in her circle. She was an accomplished and phenomenal person. She is a reminder to us to be present in the moment and to enjoy the simplicity of life. As a widow, Sonja worried about who would look after her in times of illness or incapacity. During her unexpected hospitalization, she expressed that she viewed the support and concern of her family and friends as a gift. Sonja was never left alone during her final illness and was cared for by her loving friends who stayed by her side to the end. 

Sonja, you were loved, are irreplaceable and will be greatly missed. You have forced a wide void in our lives with your absence, but your warm spirit will always be with us.

Pre-deceased by her beloved husband, Stuart Gough, she is survived by sister Ilse, many nieces and nephews and many friends who, to quote Emily Dickinson, were her “estate”.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date in the Spring of 2024, a time for flowers and re-birth.  

Please consider a donation to a charity of Sonja’s choice: 
Dog Guides Canada
The Oakville Humane Society

“The Friend”
“In a circle of friends, the one who dies first is the friend you will never forget.
This is the death that unhinges you from the trappings of life,
and makes you - suddenly - absurdly grateful for each new breath –
beginning with this one.
This is the death that could break you apart in every way possible;
that persuades you - in memory of that friend –
to turn away from whatever refuses to speak to your heart,
from whatever threatens to numb your soul,
from whatever it is that revels in death.
Yet this, too, is the friend you need by your side.
Listen.  Together they urge you:  Live your life”
-    Alice Kavounas

Aum Shanti Shanti Shanti

To send flowers to the family in memory of Sonja Tessari, please visit our flower store.
In memory of Sonja Tessari, please consider making a donation to one of the following charities:


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