Bonnie Joyce Rogers
Bonnie Joyce Rogers was born 6/23/1927 in Oak Park, IL to Walter and Erma Grosser. Bonnie was the middle child of three daughters. She passed away peacefully on May 15, 2020 at Bethany Riverside Care Center in La Crosse, WI, with her daughter by her side. Bonnie was just a month shy of 93 years of age, beloved by all who knew her.
Bonnie is preceded in death by her husband Bill Rogers and her older sister Jean (Smith). She is survived by her younger sister Lois (Bill) Rex, her four children Steve (Marilyn) Rogers, Laurie Rogers (Lisa Radtke, Jeff Bernardy), Tom (Cindy) Rogers, and Rick (Phyllis) Rogers. She had 6 adoring grandchildren: Karla (Mike) Lorincy and Valerie (Ryan) Borer, Heidi and Emily Rogers, Travis and Erin Bernardy. Bonnie maintained strong ties to her beloved younger sister Loie, extended family, and life-long friends. She cherished 5 great grandchildren, nieces and nephews on both her and Bill’s side of the family, the many friends of her children who she knew and loved over the years, and the important close and loyal friends of both her and Bill including the McCoppin, Parr, Holhfelder, and Dobbertin families.
It was important to Bonnie for her obituary to embody her essence as a person, rather than only the facts of her life. Bonnie loved people. She could strike up a conversation with just about anybody, and enjoyed everything about getting to know new people, young and old. She often reminded each of her four children, “ I am the president of your fanclub.” She gave her love freely and unconditionally, and offered her broad and open mind as she lent you an ear. She raised her children to be independent thinkers, and believed that teaching children to make their own decisions early nurtured the growth of strong, accountable, conscientious, and responsible adults who understood that there was always a choice no matter what the circumstance. Bonnie had a great sense of humor, a true necessity for anyone spending a lifetime with her husband Bill.
Bonnie attended Oak Park High School in Illinois, graduating valedictorian in 1944. Within the family, she is being newly admired because of our recent exposure to her graduation speech, written and presented to her classmates entitled “The Rainbow Future.” In it she addresses the importance of human diversity in society, how we all benefit and thrive as individuals and as a culture when we can accept, celebrate, and learn from our differences. She was a 16 year old ahead of her time, as her speech is so very relevant right now. Her children and grandchildren are reminded that the core value of accepting and offering love to others and celebrating differences is part of her essence and something she instilled in all of us.
Bonnie attended Mills College, a women’s college in Berkeley, CA where she earned a liberal arts degree in music as a voice major in 1948. Her trained soprano voice was beautiful, and gave her years of pleasure singing at church, in weddings and special occasions. Singing brought her such great joy.
Bonnie and Bill met when Bonnie was still in high school. Bill went off to war in Europe, flying P51s over Germany. With great fortune, he returned home from the war. They were married on September 4,1948, living most of their working lives in Hinsdale, IL where they raised their children. Once the youngest was in upper elementary school, Bonnie returned to commuter college at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL to earn a second degree in elementary education. This led her to a 15 year teaching career at Madison Elementary School, across the street from her home in Hinsdale. Bonnie loved teaching and thrived putting her energy into a career of her own. She taught with great passion, from the heart. Throughout her life, she loved being a student herself – a true lifelong learner who gobbled up a couple books per week well into her upper 80s.
In 1973 Bonnie and Bill bought some acreage in SW Wisconsin near the Kickapoo River in a beautiful part of Wisconsin. There they fulfilled a dream to live in a remote rural setting. Bonnie admitted that, without Bill and his total enjoyment of adventure, she would never have experienced all the unique chapters in her life as she did. “Second only to marrying Bill and raising our children, the farm was an adventure of a lifetime.” In 1987/88 with the help of family, neighbors, and friends who traveled far and wide to help, a log home was built there. Since then, the farm has served as a gathering place, with a warm welcome extended to friends and family over the years.
The Rogers family wishes to extend deep gratitude and thanks to all those who made Bonnie’s last years meaningful, engaged, and enjoyable. Staff and residents at Eagle Crest North in Onalaska gave her a community in which she could thrive as an independent senior for close to a decade. Bonnie loved living there. In early December of 2018, Bonnie moved to Bethany Riverside Care Center in La Crosse where she was wonderfully cared for until her final day. Bonnie thought the technology of FaceTime and Zoom used to keep us all connected during the Covid lockdown was “nothing short of mindblowing”. Thanks go to all her family and friends who stayed in touch through each transition, to the pastor and congregation from North Presbyterian Church of La Crosse, to Gundersen Hospice staff, and to the recreation therapy department who made possible our virtual connections.
The family plans to memorialize Bonnie in a year, hopefully when we can all gather together at the farm. There is not a service scheduled. We invite people who knew Bonnie to send a story, a memory, or something that describes to you something of her essence as a person. These will be shared when the family gathers in the future. Please mail to Laurie Rogers at 30628 County Rd 1, La Crescent, MN 55947, or email: email@example.com. Please put Bonnie in the subject line.
Memorial donations can be made in her name either sent directly to any of these places or to Laurie Rogers (above address): WAFER Food Pantry La Crosse, North Presbyterian Church, or Bethany Riverside Recreation Therapy Department.