Nora Sonne


(This is an excerpt from the biography L. Tom Perry, An Uncommon Life by L. Tom Perry.)

The home in Logan in which Nora Sonne grew up was a Danish home. Her parents, brothers, and sister spoke Danish in the home, and the food and customs were Danish. Nora was the youngest in the family, and the task fell to her and her older sister, Emma, to care for their mother, Eliza, who was in poor health for many years.

Nora’s three older siblings liked to play jokes on each other. For example, Alma and Emma once conspired to convince older brother Ola that Alma could solve in his head any arithmetic problem in their textbook. Unknown to Ola, Emma was signaling Alma the answers from the back of the book. Eventually, Ola caught on to their trick and stormed out of the room.

Another time, Emma pretended to sneak up on Alma with a pair of scissors and ruin his new haircut. When Alma complained to their mother, she could find nothing wrong with his haircut. Eventually, Emma confessed she had pulled a lock of his hair but had not cut it. What Alma didn’t know was that she had cut a piece of paper to produce the sound that had alarmed him. Their mother laughed at the joke, but Alma found it less humorous.

Nora, being the youngest, received less teasing from her older siblings, who were protective of her. Moreover, Nora had a kind, sweet disposition that fostered adoration from her parents, brothers, and sister. Being the youngest in the family, however, did not excuse Nora from work. There was plenty of work to do, and like everyone else in the family, she was expected to do her fair share as soon as she was able. It could also be said of Nora that she had a streak of inner strength and independence common to many Danish women at that time. Nora was an excellent student and a leader. She attended Brigham Young College in Logan and graduated in 1909 with a degree in domestic sciences. Nora served as student body vice president during her junior year, the only woman among the fourteen student body officers. She completed her education at the Agricultural College of Utah, where she was among the thirty-five graduates of the class of 1910. At the Agricultural College, she served as the senior class vice president and participated on the college debate team. More relevant to her major, Nora took some commercial classes in drafting patterns for the complicated skirts and blouses of the era. This skill was greatly appreciated by her students the year she taught at Rigby High School. Three of her students, sisters of another teacher, Leslie Thomas Perry, soon became sisters-in-law.

Tom notes in his personal history that his initial encounter with Nora was not love at first sight. In the course of a brief hallway conversation, Tom mentioned an invitation he had received to a party for the school’s faculty hosted by a Rigby matron. Nora, who had also been invited, said, “Good. I am glad I will not have to go alone.” Nora always claimed all she meant by the comment was she would know at least one person at the party, but Tom assumed she mistakenly thought he had asked her to be his date. He arranged to pick her up at 7:30 that evening, and they were together nearly every evening after that, a use of time that Tom later admitted might have interfered with their daily lesson preparations. Tom and Nora’s courtship involved spending a lot of time together, but it was not particularly private time. Dating between teachers at the same school was mostly discouraged, and their principal imposed a rule that all their dates had to be chaperoned. They could be on the opposite side of a room so that there was an element of privacy to their conversations, but they always needed to be in view of their chaperone. Moreover, their contracts forbade them from marrying during the school year, so they waited until June 21, 1911, to be married in the Logan Temple. They spent their honeymoon riding in a wagon through Yellowstone National Park. By this time they were so accustomed to having someone else with them that they had invited Tom’s youngest brother, Heber, and Nora’s older sister, Emma, to join them on the trip.


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