You’re gonna love the cover family. Jason and Sonja Love met 17 years ago on the campus of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. After Jason graduated he took a job in California. Not long after, Sonja joined him in the sunshine state and finished her nursing degree there. For four years the couple built their lives together there. “It was a great experience,” she remembers. Everything changed though—as is usually true—when their first daughter, Gabrielle, was born. That’s when the couple started looking for ways to come home.
Sonja had grown up in Rapid City and Jason’s family had moved to the Black Hills when he was in middle school decades before. The couple knew they wanted to raise their own family here—and the time had come.
In 2005, Jason accepted a job at RESPEC, and the family of three moved home to the Black Hills. For several years, Sonja worked as a nurse and recently took an instructors position at Western Dakota Technical Institute. “This is new for me, and I am really enjoying it,” she says of her role as a teacher. Her role as a mother changed too since she and Jason brought Gabbie to the Black Hills; Finley was born in 2008.
Life in Rapid City suits the Love family well. “We live in the best neighborhood,” Sonja asserts with deep sincerity, referring to the cul-de-sac that has come to be an extension of their home. “In fact we often joke about signing contracts that say that no one can ever move. I could never have imagined my family would be so blessed to have so many great people in such a close vicinity.” The adults often lounge together on the street chatting and watching the kids play, the families share meals together, Jason even joined some of the neighbors to pick up an old hobby he’d begun in California almost a decade before–cycling. “He found it very difficult to maintain this hobby when we first moved home,” Sonja remembers. “But, in the last three years, he has picked it up again and rides several times a week.”
The Loves have equally embraced the larger community and all of the Black Hills. “Since moving home, we have really enjoyed seeing downtown grow. Main Street Square is a spot we love, and there is always something for our whole family to do.”
They don’t limit themselves to downtown, either. Boating and camping are among the favorite family activities—the four of them spend a good portion of their free time in the summer on the water at Pactola. “There is nothing like the smell of the Black Hills in the summer,” Sonja remarks.
Winter, for the Love family, is no less exciting. This will be the sixth year of an annual event they have come to look forward to all year—the Ski Weekend. “Several former co-workers of mine and our families rent one of the ski cabins at Terry Peak,” she explains. “We spend three nights together, cooking and eating, making crafts with the kids, and taking turns on the slope. It’s the perfect ‘close’ get-away.”
And, of course, there are the Holidays. Each year they begin the season with downtown Rapid City’s annual Parade of Lights. “We go every year, no matter how cold it is. To me, it’s such a nice family event and it really signifies that the Holidays are here.”
For the Love family, there’s always been something special about Rapid City and the Black Hills—it’s more than just a fun and beautiful place to raise a family… for the Love family,
this is home.
Written by Jaclyn Lanae