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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Bonnie Wagenvelt would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She was guided by an unwavering faith, and she was a lover of people. Deeply devoted to her family, Bonnie considered it her greatest joy and richest blessing to be a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Although she saw so many of the most amazing places that the world has to offer, what made these experiences so extraordinary was sharing them with the ones she loved. Life will never be the same without Bonnie here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever carry in their hearts.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as countless young servicemen answered the call to serve during WWII after the vicious attack on our naval base in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It was just prior to that historic day that Ralph and Nell (Flietstra) Bolt were filled with great joy to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Bonnie June on June 30, 1941. Born in the family home at 1117 Fisk Road, SE, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she was the fourth of five children as he was joined in her family by her older siblings, Jack, Eleanor, and Lois, and her younger brother, James. When she was four, Bonnie’s family moved to a home on Franklin Street. Her father was a produce delivery driver while her mother was a homemaker.
In many ways Bonnie was a typical young girl of her generation. She and her sister, Lois, were best friends, and she was close with all her siblings. After moving to their home on Franklin, Bonnie loved going to Franklin Park for swimming and ice skating. Beginning in fourth grade Bonnie played basketball. Holidays were spent gathered with family, and Christmas began with a church service followed by a Christmas celebration at home. Tragedy struck in Bonnie’s family when her father was tragically killed when his produce delivery truck tipped over and crushed him by the side of the road. Bonnie was in high school at the time. Bonnie, along with her mother and brother, Jim, went on a train trip out West, and they also took family trips to Mackinac Island and on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. As a student Bonnie attended Oakdale Elementary and graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School in 1959. She was raised in the Christian Reformed Church including First Protestant Reformed, Calvin Reformed, and Standale Reformed Church. When she was 19, Bonnie was part of a filer center on Fulton Street and Jefferson, tracking planes as they came in during the Vietnam War. Bonnie was proudly given “wings” pin from Dwight D. Eisenhower.
New and exciting changes were in store for Bonnie when she met the man of her dreams. His name was Eldon Wagenvelt, and they met at Snug Harbor in Grand Haven. They began dating, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Bonnie and Eldon were married on December 23, 1965, in Bonnie's parents’ home on Franklin Street. They didn’t take a honeymoon and settled right into a place at 550 Paris and then 451 Paris Avenue, SE. Eldon brought three children, Craig, Kimberly, and Kevin, into her life, and she and Eldon had two additional children together, including Eric James in 1969 and Shari Lynn in 1973. As a mother Bonnie was a strict disciplinarian who ran a tight ship as a working mom. As the kids got older, Bonnie just wanted to hang out with them in their environment whether it was tailgating or taking in the bar scene in Grand Haven.They enjoyed annual family trips since Bonnie just had to vacation. They went to places like visiting Grandma Bolt in Florida, Mexico, Canada, Niagara Falls, Mammoth Cave, and Mackinac Island just to name a few.
In addition to caring for her home and family, Bonnie worked outside of the home. From 1959 through 1961, she worked for Kable Advertising, traveling to set up offices, creating coupon books, and teaching telemarketing to staff. From there she worked as a paralegal at Rhodes Mickey, Bohr for 10 years and then for Lawson, Sefton, & Portko for two years. Finally, Bonnie worked for attorney Michael P. Knapp from 1982 until retiring in 1999. Mike moved to different firms over the years and Bonnie followed as his paralegal. After retiring, Bonnie kept on going as she established Wagenvelt Management, buying property and rentals.
Described as a free spirit, Bonnie was a woman of many interests. With a love for traveling, she traveled even more during her retirement years as they went on a Mediterranean Cruise to Greece, and Turkey, on a cruise of the Panama Canal, and also on an Alaskan Cruise as well as a Tour of Europe with Nore where they saw Amsterdam, Austria, Italy, France, Brussels, Germany, and others as they went to 16 European countries in all. Bonnie was a country music fan whose favorites included Charlie Rich, Merle Haggard, Garth Brooks, and TG Sheppard. She enjoyed reading as well, and among her favorite authors were Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged. Fricanos pizza and any kind of ice cream were some of her favorite foods. Bonnie was so proud of her most treasured possession, which was something from her mother. She and her sisters were each given three identical rings from her mother’s diamond wedding ring. All the sisters wore the rings until they day they died.
As her family and friends can attest, Bonnie Wagenvelt would agree that she was the heartbeat of wherever she went. She was always so much fun to be around, and her zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Bonnie loved crowds, parties, and get togethers, and a friend of Bonnie’s was a friend for life. A beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, she will be forever missed.
WAGENVELT, Bonnie J. Grand Haven, MI. Loving mother, grandmother and friend passed away February 23, 2019 at home. Bonnie was born June 30, 1941 in Grand Rapids to the late Ralph and Nell (Fliestra) Bolt. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Eldon Wagenvelt; her siblings, Jack Bolt, Eleanor DeRuiter, Lois Poppen and Jim Bolt. Bonnie will be remembered for loving her people, family and friends. She is survived by her children, Eric Wagenvelt of Grand Rapids, Shari (Jeff) Ludy of Hopkins; step children, Craig (Susan) Wagenvelt of Walker, Kim (Norm) Streeter of Walker, Kevin (Alice) Wagenvelt of Wayland; 16 grandchildren; and 7 great grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Friday March 1 at 2 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit on Thursday from 2-4 & 6-8 at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice. Please visit Bonnie's personalized web page to read more of her life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.