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Richland, Baker County, Oregon
Hilary Bonn, 21, of Richland, died Jan. 28, 2005, at Oregon Heath & Science University in Portland surrounded by family and friends.
There will be a celebration of her life at 6 p.m. Thursday at Richland Elementary School.
Hilary was born on Nov. 22, 1983, with her twin sister, Gabrielle, at La Grande, to Anthony and Jan Bonn. She was raised at Richland and attended Richland Elementary School. She was a 2002 graduate of Pine-Eagle High School at Halfway.
Active in high school sports, she ran track all four years and loved the 400-meter relay. When not running in her own event she was there as a warm-up buddy and support for her teammates.
She participated in 4-H, raising and showing lambs at the Baker County Fair, and loved to hike, fish, and hunt with her dad, as well as walk the quiet roads, irrigation ditches and creek beds of Richland.
Joining her mother on the piano and her sisters, Elizabeth and Gabrielle, on violin, Hilary played the cello by ear and memorized countless classical pieces to play at weddings for family and friends. She cherished the times spent singing as a quartet with her sisters, Irene, Elizabeth, and Gabrielle.
Sundays were packed with church activities and Hilary was a member of both the Richland Methodist Church and St. Therese Catholic Church at Halfway, where she attended both services. She participated in community events and fund-raisers and treasured the experience of coordinating and organizing. She much preferred to be on the giving end, but accepted with grace the love and support given by others.
Hilary was a team player but also a willing leader ready to step in and fill any role needed. As soon as junior high school her mother remembers Hilary taking over as coach of the basketball team when the girls wanted to play the boys. There were no adult coaches on the floor that day, so Hilary took charge.
Hilary loved to perform and gave outstanding performances in her high school theater arts class, as The Witch, in the play “Into the Woods,” and made everyone cry as the character Sybil in “The Cover of Life.”
Hilary’s dream was to become a massage therapist. She was prepped to begin classes in the fall of 2002 but her education was delayed with the diagnosis of leukemia.
She stayed involved between treatments by joining Marylhurst Toastmasters in 2003. She worked toward achieving her Competent Toastmaster Award, and was a guest speaker for the Portland Red Cross at its 2004 conference for bone marrow transplant survivors.
She completed her first term in December 2004 at the East West School of the Healing Arts in Portland.
Hilary touched hundreds of people and had a way of making them feel special. Those who knew her were inspired by her tenacity, quiet strength, and unfailing heart.
Hilary’s focus the past two years was on life and living, not on being sick. That was evident in how she dealt with being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
She created many friendships during her treatment and maintained them as part of her extended family. She was adamant that those around her focus on the positive and quick to point out that worrying about tomorrow would not help her today.
In her words, “Don’t be negative or you’ll ruin what time I do have,” and “Calm down, I’ll either live which is good, or I’ll die, which is also good.”
Hilary was also an inspiration for both patients and staff at OHSU. She called to check on others, visited those hospital bound when she herself was not, sang Christmas carols, made and delivered ornaments, and provided a calming presence for those anxious and afraid. Fellow patients sought Hilary out as friend and empathizer, and hospital staff asked to be assigned to her.
She was loving and joyful, beginning with her childhood (when her mom would have to separate the twins at bedtime because they would giggle the night away) and continuing through her early adulthood.
People often said, “She’s such an angel,” and many people claimed her as their very own angel, according to family members. Hilary will always be remembered and cherished by her family.
Survivors include her father and mother, Anthony and Jan Bonn of Richland; sisters, Irene and Gabrielle of Beaverton, Elizabeth of La Grande; grandfather, Walter Saunders Jr. of Richland; grandmother, Irene Bonn of Albany; 20 aunts and uncles; numerous cousins and countless friends.
She was preceded in death by Grandma Geneva Saunders, Grandpa Joe Bonn, and cousin Jerome Goin.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Richland Methodist Church Benevolence
Fund through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home, P.O. Box 543, Halfway, OR 97834, or Richland Methodist Church, P.O. Box 378, Richland, OR 97870.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, February 3, 2005
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor