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Homemaker’s tight ship prepared sons for service

5978003BonnettVirginia95
Virginia “Jean” Dare Bonnett of Shaler died Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. She was 95.
5978003BonnettVirginia95
Virginia “Jean” Dare Bonnett of Shaler died Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. She was 95.

Jean Bonnett won a beauty pageant as a teenager, but it was an award she won for her knowledge of her native Mountaineer State that she held dearest.

“She was a Miss Rhododendron, but she thought the Golden Horseshoe was more important,” said her oldest son, David E. Bonnett of Silverdale, Wash.

The state’s Department of Education in 1931 began honoring eighth-grade students as Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe as a way to promote study of state history. Mrs. Bonnett won the honor that year, becoming the first female recipient from Lewis County.

Virginia “Jean” Dare Bonnett of Shaler died Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014. She was 95.

She grew up in Shady Brook, W.Va., about 60 miles southwest of Morgantown.

A childhood neighbor was Edward Newton Bonnett, whom she would later marry.

“She was a homemaker — and a very good one at that,” said her son, Dan Bonnett of Shaler. “She raised five boys while my dad was on the road. She was there for every one of us.”

Dave Bonnett said his mother had a look that topped any “wait till your father gets home” threat.

“You might as well have called her an admiral of the fleet,” he said. “She kept it all together.”

One of Mrs. Bonnett’s brothers died on the beaches of Normandy, France, during World War II. Four of her sons served more than 80 years combined in the Navy and Air Force.

“I think that is a tribute to her,” Dave Bonnett said.

Mrs. Bonnett was an active member of Elfinwild Presbyterian Church and the Glenshaw Century Club, a women’s group that formed in 1946. She volunteered with Meals on Wheels, UPMC Passavant and Kane Regional Hospital.

“She was a good, Christian woman,” Dan Bonnett said.

He said his mother enjoyed needlepoint, crosswords and reading.

She liked to travel and to attend the Red Barn Theatre in Ellwood City with friends.

In addition to sons Dave and Dan, Mrs. Bonnett is survived by sons J. William “Bill” Bonnett of Weston, W.Va., R. Steven Bonnett of Webster, N.Y., and Michael L. Bonnett of Falmouth, Mass.; a brother, Robert D. Henderson; 16 grandchildren; and 22 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward, and daughter, Susan.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Elfinwild Presbyterian Church, 3200 Mt. Royal Blvd., Shaler. Neely Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or [email protected].

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