Bonnie Jean West was born on 4 March 1930, in Los Angeles, California and died on 23 June 2023, in Farmington, Utah. She was born to Cecil Roy Burleigh West and Martha Eleanor Gertrude Horton. She was the second daughter of two girls born in the family. Her sister was Marjorie Eleanor Lois West, who later married William Lincoln Shourt.
Bonnie grew up a quiet girl. She learned to knit and was an expert. She knitted everything: dresses, socks, baby clothing and baby blankets. Bonnie knitted baby blankets for her own children and then later to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was also very clever in sewing, and made a lot of her own clothing, as well as for her children and grandchildren. She sewed curtains and other home items and then went on to do applique and quilting. A treasure of all the family are the Christmas advent calendars and stockings she made by hand with appliqueing. Her stockings were personalized with the name and unique and different appliqued items for each family member – husband, children and their spouses and then grandchildren; even one for the pet cat and dog! Granddaughters have carried the tradition on to the next generation.
Bonnie’s family came from British Columbia, Canada, and every summer the family would take two weeks and drive up to visit relatives. This was a favorite time as they would stop and buy fresh, cold watermelon to enjoy and take the edge off the heat of the California Central Valley. Other favorite stops included a roadside stand with the best fried chicken near the Oregon border and then fresh shrimp near Washington’s border. One year they went all the way to Detroit to pick up a new car. Then the family of four drove up into Canada and across to British Columbia. It was quite a feat in the 1940s!
Bonnie’s first big job was at the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, later known as AT&T. She was an operator and later became a secretary. She was the only woman among several men. Bonnie was very shy, but did catch the eye of Fred Frank Douglass, whom she eventually married in February 1958, in her parents’ home. They had three children: Pamela (Philip Bleach), Lisa (William Jacobson) and Mark (Yvonne Multer). She and Fred were happy grandparents to 11 and great grandparents to 13.
Bonnie always felt family was important and so visiting relatives, going on day trips or camping in the family camper was something she very much enjoyed. She was a good cook and family dinner was always together at the dining room table. One day her mother showed her a little book a cousin had put together with their family history/genealogy. She began reading and never gave it back! Bonnie was hooked on the mysteries of “where did I come from”! She began attending seminars, libraries and buying books and maps and all sorts of records – this was the era before computers and technology. She made friends that she only knew through AOL and they helped to try and solve each other's family tree problems. This new hobby eventually took her to becoming a Family History Consultant in a Pasadena Library for about 35 years. She traveled to England and throughout Canada to uncover family names and information. She continued until she could no longer see on her computer due to macular degeneration. However, with her sharp memory she still knew her family tree for generations and would love to talk about them, and bug her daughter Pamela to find out more information!
Bonnie loved to know what was happening all around her and when she finally needed to move into an assisted living apartment she made good friends and kept up on the local gossip! She missed reading her romance novels and was happy to be introduced to a special Braille recorder since she could no longer see. Her children and grandchildren visited often and she was sharp as a tack until the very end, remembering what everyone was up to.
Bonnie died at the age of 93, living a full life. Her children were with her when she left to go to her heavenly rest. She was predeceased by her husband, parents and sister, and now is joyfully reunited with them.