News From Terre Haute, Indiana


December 19, 2013

John Sonafrank

TERRE HAUTE — March 15, 1937 -— Dec. 15, 2013

John Allen Sonafrank, 76, died Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, at his home in Terre Haute. John was born March 15, 1937, to Floyd and Zelma (Shively) Sonafrank in Plymouth. He was raised and schooled in Peru, Ind., and attended Manchester College until he joined the Marines. John was the middle son of Floyd and Zelma. They were both teachers and his father was the principal of a local grammar school in Peru. In the summer, when school was out, the family raised gladiola flowers for the local florists for extra income for the family. Numerous awards and trophies were won in flower shows by the family operation, and John took pride in the fact that he was part of it. The gladiola was always his favorite flower.

He was a member of the Terre Haute Sycamore Club. John moved to Terre Haute in 1962, where he worked at the Wabash Cigar Store. He purchased the Wabash Cigar Store in 1980, and his long career there spanned over 50 years. Although the last seven years were spent in retirement, he was still very involved with his store. John and his wife Betty proceeded to build Terre Haute’s only professional tobacconist store in the area, with one of the largest humidors in the Midwest. John and his wife Betty met in 1981. They were married June 19, 1985.

John is survived by his wife, Betty; and a special granddaughter, Lacrisha Clinton, whom they raised in their home since 1987 when she was eight months old. He also is survived by stepsons, Steven Francis and wife Monica of Indianapolis, and Bryan Francis and wife Amy of Marshall, Ill.; stepdaughter, Katherine Anderson of Terre Haute; brother, the Rev. Harold Sonafrank and wife Sandi of Moatsville, W.Va.; sister-in-law, Elaine Sonafrank of Fresno, Calif.; a very special stepmother, Iraleen Sonafrank of North Manchester; 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; four nephews; and one niece. John was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Raymond Sonafrank Sr.; stepdaughter, Karen Clinton; nephew, Raymond Sonafrank Jr.; and niece, Carmen Sonafrank.

John fought a courageous battle with a very rare form of cancer. With less than 2,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, he chose to donate his body to the Indiana University School of Medicine, in the hope that a cure will be found someday.

John has requested there be no services. Memorial contributions may be made in his name to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Southern Care Hospice, Special Olympics or any charity of your choice. The family would like to acknowledge and give special thanks to Southern Care Hospice nurses and staff, Indiana University School of Medicine, and special friend Susan Krstich, as well as friends, relatives and loved ones. John was a kind and gentle man. He always had a smile on his face and had a wonderful sense of humor.

He will be missed by all who knew him. He was a diehard Chicago Bears fan, as well as a devoted Chicago Cubs fan.

A celebration of life for John will be announced at a later date.


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