Bonnie was born on January 14, 1932 to Denzil James and Lucy Crossley Snarr. She was born in the LDS Hospital in Idaho Falls. She was the second of four children. She had an older brother, Gordon, and two younger brothers, Merrill and Delane.
The year Bonnie was born was a hard winter with a lot of snow and bitter cold. They couldn’t get the furnace to work, and when they did, it smoked, so they stayed in the kitchen and kept the stove going. Bonnie was born at about 11:00 in the morning on January 14th. The windows froze up solid that night and never thawed out the entire time Lucy was in the hospital – about nine days.
Lucy wondered how she would ever keep her baby warm. It was so cold you could hear the roof crackling at night. She had a baby buggy and made a nice warm bed in it for Bonnie and kept it in the kitchen. She and Denzil slept in the bedroom and kept Gordon in bed with them so he would stay warm. The kitchen door was left open so they could hear the baby if she cried. Denzil got up several times during the night to tend the fire. Bonnie slept until 2:00 a.m., and then Denzil brought her into their bed for the rest of the night. The next day, they moved the table into the kitchen and put the bed in the kitchen nook. They stayed a lot warmer and lived that way until the end of February.
Bonnie was born with a cleft lip. That's when the upper lip doesn't come together. This condition made it difficult for her to suck, so she learned to drink from a cup real young. When she was several months old, their doctor had them take her to a hospital in Pocatello, Idaho for an operation on her lip.
Her father got sick with pneumonia that was caused by an accident in the course of his employment. He passed away on April 4, 1939. Bonnie was seven years old.
In the spring of 1941, Lucy had a chance to send Bonnie to Boise, Idaho for another operation on her lip. She would go alone on the train and was to be met in Boise by a social worker. Lucy’s sister-in-law found out what her intentions were and tried to talk her out of sending Bonnie alone. Lucy stuck by her decision. There was no way she could go with her because she was the sole support of her children and she couldn't leave her job to go with her. She knew Bonnie would be in good hands and would be well taken care of.
When the time came for her to go home, the nurse forgot to put her on the train so when Lucy went to pick her up at the train station, she wasn’t there. Lucy was quite worried until she showed up on the next train.
In December, her lip split open again so she went for a third operation. During this time was when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. All throughout the country, people were afraid that the mainland would be next. There was a lot of talk among the hospital staff about the bombing, which made Bonnie quite fearful and she longed to be home with her family. She was afraid she wouldn't be home in time for Christmas. There were some carolers that came and when they sang Silent Night, it made her quite homesick. She did end up going home in time for Christmas but that song was her favorite song after that. It always reminded her of wanting to be home for Christmas.
Her mother met Bill Whitmill at a New Year’s Eve dance in December 1943. His wife had died, leaving him with seven children, five girls and two boys. His children were: DeWayne, Olea, Delpha, Boyd, Floy, Phyllis and Belva. The two started dating and were married on July 6, 1944. Bonnie was twelve years old when her mother remarried. Now she had the sisters she had always longed for. She gained another sister when Martyna was born in November 1946.
In August 1945, World War II came to an end with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulting in the surrender of the Japanese. There were celebrations all throughout the country. Bill and Lucy were invited by some friends to go to dinner in town, leaving Bonnie and Phyllis to tend the kids. The girls decided they wanted to celebrate too, so they planned a fancy supper to make at home. They killed and cooked a chicken, made potatoes and gravy, along with a lot of other good things. When Bill and Lucy got home, they were hungry because all the businesses, including all the stores and restaurants, had closed so their employees could celebrate. They ended up at someone’s home but all they had to offer them was some dry bread. In short, Lucy and Bill got all dressed up to go out on the town only to get a little dry bread to eat while the kids at home got a pretty good feast.
Bill passed away in March, 1950 from a heart attack. Around the time he passed away, there was a leaky faucet in the house that was always dripping. Bonnie always hated it when a faucet dripped after that, because the sound of the dripping reminded her of that time.
Bonnie graduated from Firth High School in 1950. After she graduated, she attended the LDS Business College in Salt Lake. She stayed with Ernie and Blenda Ekstrom. Blenda was Bill's first wife's sister, so Bonnie was already acquainted with them. She and their daughter, Laurine, had become good friends. She also got a job and was working while going to school.
Bonnie married Wendell Jean Owen on her twenty-first birthday on January 14, 1953 after a short engagement. She wore a penny in her shoe for good luck. They were married by a Justice of the Peace in Salt Lake with her mother and his father as witnesses. Later that evening they had a religious ceremony at Woods Cross, Utah. There was a blizzard that day, so it took them a long time to get there. Because of the storm, the power was out so flashlights were used which made it a very humble ceremony. Bonnie described it as a “beautiful day”.
At the time they married, Wendell was driving coal trucks for the Co-op mine in Huntington, Utah. To begin with in their marriage, he asked her to keep her job and live in Salt Lake. They found a small upstairs apartment to rent and moved in.
This is what Wendell wrote.
“After we were married and I began to know her better, what she was like reminded me of that place in the Bible:
“'Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!' because that is the kind of person she was. It seemed that she was not capable of trying to deceive or manipulate in any way to gain her own ends, nor to do or say anything that in any way would hurt someone.
“She had a very sweet disposition. The other young married men I worked with would tell of their troubles at home. But I bragged I didn't have any. My home was a haven where I could go home and relax without listening to a stream of troubles like the other men told of, and my love for her grew stronger with each passing day. She always supported me in anything that I did.”
When she got close to the time of the birth of their first child, he moved her to the mining camp in Huntington, Utah, in a one room apartment in Brother Ivan Nielson's basement. It was late when they arrived and she was tired from the trip, and the room was a filthy mess. That was the first he had ever seen her discouraged, but she didn't complain. He jumped in and started cleaning up and she soon joined in. They got it all cleaned up and painted and it made a cozy little place for the winter.
Later on, Wendell learned Brother Merlin Kingston needed help at Woods Cross, so they moved there. To start with, they stayed with Brother Merlin and his wife, Rachel, then moved in with Sister Merlyn Jenkins. Bonnie and Merlyn cooked for the farm crew.
Over the next few years, they moved quite frequently as Wendell went from one job to another, including three years in Dragerton, Utah (now known as East Carbon). From Dragerton, they moved to Woods Cross again in the summer of 1962.
Wendell’s job that summer was moving houses from Layton, Utah to the Woods Cross farm. They were getting ready to start building I-15 through that area and needed houses moved out of the way. Back then, they didn’t condemn houses and tear down them down like they do now. They sold them and it was up to the purchasers to move them.
Altogether, there were six houses that were moved, along with a garage that came with one of the houses. After he got all the houses moved, they started building foundations and getting them ready to be lived in.
As Wendell took on the job of moving houses, he was told he could have first pick of which house he wanted for his family. He left it up to Bonnie to choose which one she wanted, and she was deciding between two of the bigger houses. While they were getting the houses ready for occupancy, he had his family in a temporary home, but after a time he became quite concerned that it would not be sufficient for the winter. A little gray house was the closest to being finished so he hurried and finished getting it ready and had the family move in. It was around the middle of October at that time.
The house was quite small consisting of the kitchen, living room, bathroom/laundry room and one bedroom. Here Bonnie was in a one-bedroom house with five kids, but she never complained. It wasn’t long before Wendell completed a bedroom in the basement for the kids. Later, he built additional rooms in the basement.
She never made any kind of comment about that not being the house she wanted. She fully supported Wendell’s decision and accepted it willingly. She made it into a real nice home, and she lived the rest of her life in that house.
Growing up we, her children, didn’t know they had first pick of which house they wanted and that Bonnie didn’t get either of the ones she was considering. Our father told us of it many years later. That little gray house was the nicest home one could ever ask for.
Bonnie worked a lot with Coreen Gustafson making embroidered emblems. She and Coreen were real good friends and she enjoyed this kind of work. At that time, Coreen had the emblem business set up in her home in Bountiful, Utah. One day, they were driving together in Bountiful and saw an “open house” sign. They decided to go in and see what it was all about. It was an Artex demonstration. Artex was fabric paint. The hostess was going to have a drawing for a door prize, which was a beginner paint set. Coreen told Bonnie that she should put her name in for the drawing. Bonnie hesitated, saying she never won drawings. Coreen talked her into it, so she did – and she won! She got her beginning set of Artex paints and booked a party. This is how the ladies of the Co-op got started in Artex painting. That was quite a thing for a while. A lot of the women bought sets and Lamonda Frandsen became an Artex dealer.
While living in Dragerton, Bonnie gave birth to her fifth child, after which she became quite ill. She seemed to struggle with her health for many years after that. She had her seventh child the first part of April 1972. She passed away about seven weeks later on May 24, 1972 of cancer at the age of 40.
At her funeral, it was said she was one who would have the privilege of staying close around her family to help and guide them, as a guardian angel. That has been proven right. Every one of her children have had countless experiences where she has helped them and been there for them in their times of need. Many of her grandchildren have also received help from her.
Quoting again from what Wendell wrote about her:
“Some of our happiest times were when we lived in a little cottage in Dragerton, about the nicest as far as a home as any we lived in. It was also a place of sadness when she became ill. But even in her worst times, when she would sometimes be cranky with the kids, no matter how she felt or what the conditions, she never did turn any of that on me. She was always, as at first, supportive of anything that I did.”
In March 1972, she was given a blessing, which reads in part:
“...you have raised a family that appears now to be seeking after these things and the Lord is pleased with the things which you have done and the life you have lived in order to receive the things which you have received.
“You have received a righteous man as a husband and we bless you that you may look up to him for instructions and blessings which will come to you through him and be a blessing to your children throughout your life and our lives.”
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