Christina "Nina" Gonko, 37, of Rogers Park, Chicago, IL (formerly of Sterling Heights, MI) left us too soon on March 26, 2023 after a brief but hard-fought health battle.
She was the beloved daughter of Ken (Diane) and Karen Gonko, the feisty sister of Dan Gonko (Katya Stanislavskaya), Lori Gonko (Bill Luchi), Derek Schoenherr, Deanna (Mario) Saputo, and David Schoenherr, the longtime loving partner of Justin Gillam, and the quirky aunt of Gaby, Giovanni, and Domenico.
A self-proclaimed animal lover with questionable feelings about people, Nina's favorite companions included her cats Winston, Woody, Fritz, and Franz and the late Gene the Chihuahua. After studying Vocal Performance at Wayne State University from 2004-2006, she found her true calling as a veterinary technician and earned her Associate of Applied Science in the Vet Tech program at Macomb Community College in 2010. Since that time, Nina's euphonious singing voice was mainly reserved for karaoke nights with her best friend, Craig, dazzling her colleagues with show tunes at work, and singing in the shower.
Her abilities with animals were second-to-none. She had a knack for working with the most difficult of cats, perhaps sensing a kinship with those that were more spirited. Nina spent her free time, rain or shine, trekking across all of Chicago for pet sittings and housecalls to ensure that animals from every corner of town were well-fed and safe when their owners were away. She was also a go-to for friends and family whenever animal advice was needed.
She loved music and musical theater, especially Queen and all things Andrew Lloyd Webber. Nina was involved in choir, drama, and band in high school and served in a leadership role as the drum major of the Stevenson High School marching band. She played flute, piccolo, and fife, spending many years as a proud member of the 1st Michigan Colonial Fife and Drum Corps alongside her siblings and parents.
Nina's extensive and colorful vocabulary was world-renowned, her use of four-letter words positively poetic. She never held back an opinion from friends or strangers alike, yet underneath her fierce exterior was the gentlest soul and largest heart you could imagine. Her infectious smile and sense of humor will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved her.
Celebrations of her life will be held in Chicago and Sterling Heights, dates and times to be determined. In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to honor Nina's life in their own way. Snuggling with a favorite pet, singing Broadway tunes, or watching Master Chef would be quite appropriate, as would making snarky comments to strangers on public transportation.
Arrangements entrusted to Chicagoland Cremation Options of Schiller Park, IL.
In Nina's memory, the family encourages donations to your favorite animal organization or To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), which is a non-profit that was near and dear to Nina's heart.