Bonnie L. Duell
Sep 20th 1944 - May 27th 2012
When reflecting on the life of Bonnie Duell we are reminded that life is not about the endless pursuit of great wealth and the accumulation of material possessions, but that it is through the love we share with those around us that we are richly blessed. She was filled with an unwavering resilience and a quiet strength that guided her steps, even when the way before her could have easily overwhelmed her. Bonnie was an extraordinary mother, but she loved nothing more than being a grandmother to the six grandchildren who were her greatest source of pride and joy. She leaves behind a timeless legacy rooted in wisdom, humility, and grace that will be carried on in the lives of those who follow her.
The early forties found America still deeply entrenched in the perils of WWII overseas. Countless young servicemen and women were fighting for the cause of freedom while those who remained stateside gathered around radios to bring them the latest news from the front lines. Rationing on common goods like paper, rubber, sugar, and coffee was a way of life, and victory gardens were planted in order to lesson the load on the nation’s food supply. Nestled within this time was the year 1944 that brought great anticipation to one bustling family from Muskegon, Michigan, as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of a new baby. Their wait was over on September 20th when their healthy baby girl was born. Bonnie was the fourth of six children born to her parents, Orrin and Elva (Sheriff) Baatz, and she was raised in the family home on M-120 in Muskegon County alongside her older siblings, Bob, Dick, and Betty, and her younger brothers, Orrin and John.
Tragedy struck early in Bonnie’s life when her father suffered a stroke at a very young age. This added great responsibility to every other family member in order to make things work. Bonnie’s mother got a job at Teledyne Motors in Muskegon while Bonnie and her siblings all had to help out at home more than ever before. When she could, Bonnie enjoyed spending time with friends and family at Twin Lake.
Life was forever changed for Bonnie when she met the young man who stole her heart. He was from Holton, and his name was Larry Duell. Bonnie was just 15 years old when they met. After falling in love the couple was married on June 10, 1961, when Bonnie was 17. Both Bonnie and Larry worked for Reeths Puffer Schools at the time.
The couple was thrilled to become parents to three wonderful children: Don, Doug, and Dawn. Their early years as a family were spent in a home at 1836 E. Hilt Road, and all three children went through Reeths Puffer Schools. Bonnie’s husband owned the Sunoco Service Station on M-120 and worked as a mechanic while she handled all the bookkeeping. The family later moved to a larger home at 2265 Hart Lane in Muskegon.
In addition to caring for her family and handling the majority of the parenting duties Bonnie began taking night classes at Muskegon Community College. She also took a new job working for Muskegon County. Bonnie’s education was no easy feat with an active family to tend to, but she proudly graduated with a BA from Baker College. With her degree under her belt Bonnie was able to move up the ladder at the county building more quickly.
As their children were getting older, Bonnie and Larry downsized to their home at 1700 Duchess Court in 1987. Bonnie and her children were given a tough pill to swallow with Larry’s sudden death on March 5, 1990.
Although she was deeply saddened with her husband’s death, Bonnie continued to embrace the days that lay before her. She couldn’t have been happier than she was with the birth of her first grandchild, Doug II. As the family continued to grow, Bonnie developed special relationships with all six of her grandchildren. Throughout her life she was remained close with her entire family, and spending time together always topped her list.
During her sunset years Bonnie enjoyed the companionship of her special friend, Jim Bisard, whom she met in 2005. Together they did quite a bit of traveling including road trips and a variety of cruises. Bonnie and Jim also regularly golfed together. In 2007 Bonnie’s health began to decline, which affected her day to day life increasingly more during the years that followed. It was in 2009 that she received a double lung transplant. Bonnie continued to pursue her interests for as long as she was able including shopping and tending to her flowers.
The list of things we loved about Bonnie Duell is extensive as she was one of the most extraordinary people around. She was smart and had a quick wit, too. Bonnie could even be a bit feisty when it came to things she was passionate about, and she was never judgmental of anyone. Although she loved many things along her life’s journey there was never anything more near and dear to her heart than her beloved family. Bonnie will be deeply missed and warmly remembered.
Bonnie L. Duell died on Sunday, May 27, 2012. Bonnie’s family includes her daughter, Dawn Cole of Muskegon; sons, Don Duell of MS and Doug Duell of Muskegon; brothers, Dick (Chris) Baatz of TN and Orrin Baatz of Muskegon; granchildren, Doug, Chelsea, Josh, Destiny, Brook and Lawrence; great grandson, Keeper; son-in-law Jerry Cole of Muskegon; special friend, Jim Bisard of Muskegon. Bonnie was preceded in death by her husband Larry in 1990. Services will be held on Thursday, May 31, 2012, 1p.m. at the Clock Chapel - Muskegon. Interment at East Dalton Oakhill Cemetery. Visit with Bonnie’s family and friends on Wednesday 4-7 p.m. at Clock Lifestory Funeral Home - Muskegon. Memorials can be made to V.N.S. Hospice. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a memory or sign the online guestbook.