Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sonja Gross: a tribute to her mother

Normally I love roller coasters,” Sonja begins in her latest blog, but in comparing her life to a roller coaster, she says she is ready for less twists and turns than she has experienced this past year.

Sonja Gross on a roller coaster? Yes, but she referred more to her exhilaration than the sudden dives after climbs to ever higher peaks. This week two events mark the beginning of her most recent climb: Sonja was named as a 2012 Woman to Watch by Texas Business Women of Amarillo, and today as Amarillo’s Community Relations Coordinator, she begins a new job.

Sonja, who credits her mother for the recognition and success she has earned, gave me permission to share part of her mother’s story in my blog. The following is from Sonja’s speech, The Wind beneath My Wings.   

"The reason my mother is “The Wind Beneath My Wings” from a career standpoint, has a lot to do with my father. In 1976, my dad left a career as a truck driver in Iowa and moved the family to Atlanta, Georgia where he was promised a management job with Harper Brush Company. I was only 7 years old and I remember my mom selling most of the family belongings in a yard sale. So, when we got to Georgia, we didn’t have much—I remember sleeping on mattresses laid out on the floor.

'A full framed bed wasn’t the only thing we didn’t have. That job my dad was promised didn’t turn out as expected. As a result, my dad, along with a lot of help from my mother, stated Commercial Broom Supply, a janitorial service and supply company. They really struggled at first, but with everyone pitching in, especially my mom, they somehow made it work. My mom handled the bookwork duties, made mops using a dangerous machine with sharp wires and even sold brooms on the sidewalks in downtown Atlanta.

'When the computer age really took over the workplace in the early 80’s, my mom bought an IBM PC Junior against my dad’s will and taught herself everything about it. She learned how to design an accounting program for the company and later learned the ins and outs of QuickBooks. She did all of this and more on top of cleaning buildings at night, apartments during the day and raising a family, to boot.

'Those are just some of the reasons my mother is “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” The number one reason my mom is “The Wind Beneath My Wings,” though, is that she taught me how to work. She taught me that, like her, I could learn how to do so many things on my own—be self-sufficient. She instilled in me a work ethic, a sense of self-worth and a great sense of humor.

'For those reasons, and more, I will be eternally grateful to my mother as she is 'The Wind Beneath My Wings.'”

Learn more about Sonja on her blog:

Below (on the left) is Sonja’s mother with Sonja’s older brother and sister making mops.


  1. Thank you for featuring me on your blog, Bernice! Loved talking with you the other day!

    1. My privilege, Sonja. Your mother sounds like she was an amazing person. I feel honored to have learned a little, and passed on a bit of one who was, and still is when someone thinks about her, the embodiment of what so many of us value. Whe would be so proud of you. Hope the new job is as exciting as is sounds.