Sonja Sprague Cowie, retired teacher

January 30, 2023

Sonja Sprague Cowie, 83, of Columbia, Md., passed away peacefully in West Linn, Ore., Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. She was preceded in death by her husband, David, to whom she was married for 37 years before he passed in 2018. She is survived by her two sons, James and Guy Walden; her brother Sean; her granddaughter, Angelina; her stepson, Nicholas; her stepdaughters Johanna and Sarah; step-grandchildren, Georgia, Olivia, Max and Anna; and a host of honorary family members and loving friends. She was also preceded in death by her ex-husband, Michael James Walden.

Sonja was a beautiful, kind, generous and caring person. She devoted her life to her family, to her wide circle of friends and colleagues, and to the many children she taught during her 30 years as a teacher and administrator at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C.

Sonja was born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1939 to Audrey and Haydn Sprague. She attended Cardiff High School for girls, while both her future husbands, Michael and David, attended the boys’ version of that school. Sonja went on to qualify as a teacher by attending Portsmouth Teachers Training College. During her early 20s, she worked as an art teacher at Old Buckenham Hall, a preparatory school near Bury St. Edmunds in the United Kingdom. She later married and lived in London before moving to the United States in 1966 when Michael accepted a position with World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Sonja joined WIS in 1968 when the school was located in a church basement at Volta Street and Wisconsin Avenue. In 1969, when the school expanded, she moved to the Olive Street location, where she taught various grades until taking over as the head of the Intermediate School. In 1972, she moved to the Tregaron Campus on Macomb Street. She led the Intermediate School at the Clara Barton campus in the early 1980s before moving back to Tregaron. While she took on administrative responsibilities, she never gave up teaching during her 30 years at WIS. She taught everything that was taught in English to the multilingual elementary school students, including sports, art, drama, and science while serving as a mentor to fellow teachers and staff.

Avid travelers and entertainers, Sonja and David hosted countless dinner and holiday parties, and enjoyed taking trips to Europe and farther destinations with family and dear friends. They spent almost 20 Thanksgivings with family in Portland, Ore., and hosted at least as many Boxing Day brunch gatherings at their home in Columbia. Sonja was a part of beach house groups in Dewey Beach, Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, since shortly after arriving in America. Sonja and David are terribly missed by their global circle of friends and family.

A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, March 4, at St. Peter's Church in Ellicott City, Md., with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers or contributions, donations can be made to the Alzheimer's Association or a charity of choice.

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