I received the following note from Denney Hamill about the passing of his wife Bonnie.
Denny provided a copy of the obituary below.
Bonnie Jean Hamill (3/18/1940 – 4/25/2020)
Bonnie Hamill passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 25, 2020.
Bonnie was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was adopted on her first birthday by her loving parents Clare and Thelma Rejahl. She lived in Beloit, Wisconsin for several years before moving to Madison, Wisconsin in 1947.
Bonnie met her future husband Denny when they were seniors at Madison West High School, and they went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison together. They were married during their junior year, on December 18, 1960, and had two daughters, Holly and Debbie. They lived in Boston, MA in between two stints in Midland, Michigan before settling in White Bear Lake, Minnesota where they spent 14 years.
Once her daughters reached middle school, Bonnie took a job as a secretary at the Minnesota Society for the Prevention of Blindness and Preservation of Hearing, a state-wide nonprofit with many successful programs for people of all ages. Just four years later, she was the executive director of the organization. Among her many accomplishments, she developed a home eye test that received national media attention and that was used by tens of thousands of people.
When Denny’s job took them from Minnesota to Austin in 1985, she took over the vision and hearing screening program for the Austin Independent School District (AISD). When IBM selected AISD as their partner for its Project A+ school-improvement program, Bonnie was tapped to manage that project for the school district, and she ultimately led the district’s strategic planning efforts.
Bonnie left AISD for the University of Texas-Austin to become the executive director of the Southwest Center for Accelerated Schools, a newly formed satellite center for the national accelerated schools’ program developed at Stanford University. She had an immeasurable impact on K12 schools throughout Texas and the Southwest. She excelled in the training of teachers and administrators and developed imaginative events and policies that served as a model for other centers throughout the country. When she retired in 2012, educators from across the state traveled to Austin for her celebration.
Bonnie had so many wonderful friends over the years and always enjoyed a good political discussion with them. She supported many organizations, especially those supporting women’s issues and animal issues. She was wonderful with pets and plants and communicated in her own way with both.
Bonnie’s greatest pleasures came with her grandchildren with whom she had incredibly close relationships. Grandchildren Lee, Grant, Lucy, and Kai were so important to her. She and Denny took the kids on trips to Disney World, Williamsburg, Washington, DC, New Orleans, Boston, California, and New York City, and as they each reached their early teens she and Denny took them to Europe.
The whole family was deeply saddened by Bonnie’s daughter Holly’s death in 2007, and she is still missed by all. Bonnie will be so missed by Denny, Debbie, Pat, Lee, Grant, Lucy, and Kai as well as her niece Lyn Pry and Lyn’s daughters Courtney and Kelley and their families, Denny’s siblings Tim Hamill (Bobbi), Gwendolyn Yoos (Ralph), Greg Hamill (Nancy), Bonnie’s recently found birth sister, Tina Palmer and many close friends. She was preceded in death by parents Clare and Thelma Rejahl, brother Rollyn Rejahl, sister-in-law Laurie Rejahl, and daughter, Holly.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an in-person celebration of life will be planned at a later date. The family would enjoy any memories of Bonnie that people wish to share at the website https://www.weremember.com/bonnie-jean-hamill/2o6q/memories.
Donations in Bonnie’s memory can be made to The Humane Society or the Hydrocephalus Association.