Gray Matters:Tribute to a friend

Monday, June 30, 2008

Many here were saddened when recent news reached us of the death of Bonnie Garlow Morgenthaler of California. Though she had lived most of her adult life in her adopted state, she was loyal to her home town and was fondly remembered by all who knew her. Bob Reed, of Orlando, FL, is another of those expatriates who dearly loves his hometown. Reed, a retired professor, TV producer and writer created the Marcus Blogspot which is treasured by so many Marcusites here and across the land. Last week he posted a beautiful tribute to Bonnie. As many of us feel it deserves an even wider audience, I am repeating it here, with Bob's permission. I know if you haven't had an earlier opportunity to read it, you will be glad I did.


Bonnie was the eldest of "The Garlow Girls," the town's three beauties in the 1940s. Every boy in town had a crush on them. Now she's gone. She passed away on May 31 in California her adopted state. She was 80.

Bonnie (LaVonne) was an effervescent, lovely person of remarkable joy. In addition to her beauty, she possessed a personality that made her the most popular girl at old MHS. She graduated in 1945. Bonnie was homecoming queen and a majorette. Marching right behind her as an eighth-grader, the spit valve on my trombone suddenly froze and I became a man.

After high school, she worked for a year as the Society Editor of the Marcus News. But she was meant to bloom in a bigger garden with a longer growing season. She and a cousin embarked for an unknown future in California, where they found adventure and love. She married her boss in the aerospace industry.

Throughout her life was the laughter. She lit up a room with hearty, well-rounded bursts of joy. It's as if she were subscribing to the old wisdom that counsels--

"There are three things that are real:

God, human folly, and laughter.

The first two are beyond our comprehension

So we must do the best we can with the third."

Bonnie did more than her best with the third. Her laughter was infectious, heart-warming, and full of joie de vivre! Bonnie maintained her love of her roots in Marcus. She came back for centennials, fairs, and other celebrations. And she became a life member of the Marcus Historical Society.

Now she's off to dwell with the morning stars. She leaves behind her two sons, her little sister Jean, and a host of friends who were warmed by her fire and found joy in her laughter. They were--and are--the beings through which God loved her. I imagine her using the words of an old Indian prophet to tell us all:

"I sing a happy song now

happier than the sunrise

on another shore

happier than the smile

a birthday child smiles

happier than a new kiss

of death and life. I shall

a happy/sad, sad/happy song sing."

And I imagine her advising us with Socrates' last words: "Please the Gods, may the laughter keep breaking through."