William Lewis Bonning, of Big Rapids and formerly of Lake Orion, passed away peacefully Monday, March 9, 2020 at Evergreen Terrace in Big Rapids. He was 97-years-old.
Bill was born December 12, 1922 in Detroit and was raised by his mother and stepfather Claire and Charles Hofsomer. In 1941, he graduated from Hazel Park High School, and on January 22, 1943, Bill was inducted into the US Army.
As a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, Company B, 504th Parachute Infantry Battalion, Bill served in the European Theatre, and was in combat during the Battle of the Bulge and the battle in the Ardennes Forest. He was stationed in Berlin post-war until his honorable discharge on January 5, 1946.
Bill returned home, and on July 6, 1946, he married the love of his life Shirley F. LaGerould. They made their home in Lake Orion, where they raised their six children. In 1964, Bill was appointed Postmaster by President Lyndon Johnson and served the Lake Orion community for many years in that capacity until retiring.
Bill and Shirley loved to travel, and upon retiring travelled to 47 states, as well as Europe, China, Mexico, and Canada. Their most beloved destination was Big Bend National Park in Texas, where for 11 years they traversed the Rio Grande by rowboat to support the villagers of Boquillas, Mexico with medical and educational supplies, food, and clothing.
Bill was a lifelong political and civic activist for many worthy causes and had a generous spirit. Bill was a voracious writer of letters to the editor to many local newspapers and emphasized his political position with numerous exclamation points!!!!!!! He was former president of the Lake Orion Lions Club, and a former district governor of that Club. Bill was also a member of the American Legion. He was a craftsman at heart, and especially enjoyed woodworking.
Shirley preceded him in death in 2013. Bill is survived by 5 children, Darlene Freeman (Doug), Chuck (Rachel) Bonning, Barbara Ballou (Harold), Beverly Bonning (Jeff Lapinski), and Carolyn Wright-Ruppert (Matt); son-in-law Tom Wall; his many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter; and several beloved nephews. He was also preceded in death by his daughter Christy Bonning-Wall. The family is also deeply grateful to LeeAnn LeGree of Big Rapids for her loving and devoted care for Bill.
Bill’s family will greet friends from 5 -7 p.m., Friday, March 13, 2020 at the Mohnke Funeral Home, 128 S. Warren Ave., in Big Rapids. A graveside service with military honors at Highland View Cemetery will be held later in the spring. Memorial contributions in his name may be made to Hospice of Michigan (Big Rapids), or Evergreen Terrace Assisted Living, with envelopes available at the funeral home. Share a memory or express condolences at mohnkefuneralhome.com.