It is our deepest sorrow to announce the sudden passing of Sonja Bernadette Hernandez (Varela) on June 25, 2022, at age 55. Sonja is a member and elder of the Tule River Yokut Tribe of the Tule River Indian Reservation located in central California.
Earliest memories of Sonja include her wonderful sense of humor, making her a joy to be around and enhanced her ability to make friends easily. She attended Golden West High School in Visalia, California and became a hair stylist shortly after completing her studies at a beauty college in San Jose, California. She moved back to Tule River and enjoyed the remainder of her life with the love and support of her family and friends.
She is survived by her children Denae Miller (George) and Ryan Hernandez; brothers, Lawrence Manuel (Vanessa), Raymond Varela, and Mario Varela; sisters, Cynthia Gomez (Bernard), Candace Varela, Sibyl Avalos (Ramon deceased), Stacey Corona (Tom deceased) and Lisa Garfield, and many other cousins, nephews, nieces, aunts and friends. Sonja was proceeded in death by her parents, Gloria Garfield (Sylvester) and Raymond Varela; brothers Richard Manuel (Avis Anderson) and Wallace Varela.
She had friendships that were so close, she considered them extended family “sisters,” Krista Byers, Tina Jeff, Janice Sorondo, Maryann Jeffand Linda DeVine. Pallbearers are Carl Ramos, John DeVine, Harold Santos, Danny Segura, Jerry Manuel, Henry Molina, Randall Perez and Dale Murray. Honorary pallbearers are Eric Olson, Justin Jeff, and Gary Plumley.
Special thanks to the Tule River Tribal Council, the Tule River Tribal Elders, Raina Vega, Rondii Bonilla, Sabrina Nieto, Simo Gomez, Sharleen Nieto, Randy Christman, Stanley Santos and his team, Roxanne and Nathan Burtt, Felicia Arias and Marnie Manuel.
Viewing will be held on Friday, July 1, 2022 from 2-4 p.m.at the Porterville Funeral & Cremation Center in Porterville, California. Sonja will continue her journey to the Catholic Church on the Tule River Indian Reservation at 4 p.m., and a rosary will begin at 6 p.m. Mass will be held on Saturday, July 2, 2022 at 10 a.m., shortly after, graveside services will be held at the lower cemetery. The reception will be held at the Tule River Tribal Elders Building following the graveside service. Sonja will be missed as she makes her final journey home.