Yvonne “Bonnie” Marcelene Johnson
Yvonne Marcelene Johnson—known to all as Bonnie—went peacefully to heaven from her home in Goodyear, Ariz., at Saturday, May 16, 2020. She was just three and a half months shy of her 96th birthday.
Bonnie was born to Anna (Holstad) and W.S. (Sam) Grotewold on Aug. 31, 1924, in Lake Mills, the second oldest of five children. She had an idyllic small-town childhood and graduated from Lake Mills High School in 1942. Her favorite memories from high school included wonderful friends, playing intramural sports (there were no female inter-scholastic sports in those days), playing the marimba in the concert band and being the drum majorette in the state champion Lake Mills marching band. She then went to business school in Des Moines, (the big city) and after graduation worked at the Iowa State Capitol. The continuing Second World War brought her back to Lake Mills to work at her family’s business, Grotewold Hatchery and Feed. It was there she met Roy B. Johnson, who had grown up on a farm near Scarville, and also worked at the hatchery. They were married Aug. 3, 1945.
The newlyweds moved to Buffalo Center, where they bought the local hatchery and feed mill. They set down roots and raised a family in Buffalo Center and lived there for the next 66 years until Roy died in 2011.
Bonnie and Roy were very active in many local activities as well as starting and owning multiple businesses in the area over the years, including: the A&W Drive-in with friends, Charlie and Arlene DeVries; a large Shetland pony business with Bill Meyers; and Roy’s long-time auctioneering business. Bonnie also worked for a number of years at the Winnebago County Social Services office, which she enjoyed.
Bonnie and Roy were active members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Buffalo Center; both taught Sunday School and Bonnie was part of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church Women’s Circle for 70 years and loved her church community. She also served as co-chair of the Red Cross Bloodmobile for many decades as well as being involved in countless other community activities. It was a full and wonderful life.
Then, in 1975, with her children out of the house, Bonnie found a new passion at age 50: golf. She and her friends became fixtures at the local golf course, Gruis Golf and Recreational Park, and a year and a half later, Bonnie became the first woman to get a hole-in-one at the local course. She later said, “I wish I’d known how rare holes-in-one are; being my first year playing, I thought they came pretty easily.” She never had another one, but her name is still on the plaque inside the clubhouse. She had many, many years of enjoyment playing a game she came to truly love with friends, her children, and even in tournaments with her sister Ramona and niece Gretchen.
Bonnie and Roy had four children: Gary (born 1947), Roy (born 1948), Jean (born 1949)—yes, Bonnie once was mother to a newborn, a one-year-old, and a two-year-old at the same time—and Dave (born 1955). After a long and blessed life together in Buffalo Center, husband, Roy, died in 2011. Two years later—at nearly 90 years of age—Bonnie left Buffalo Center and bought a house in Goodyear, Ariz., at PebbleCreek, an active adult resort community where her daughter, Jean, lived. That move also put her much closer to two of her sons, Gary and Dave, in California. Two years later, her son Roy also moved to PebbleCreek, two minutes from Bonnie’s house. She loved being so close to her children and for her, the move was a refreshing adventure.
During her six years in Goodyear, she made great use of the ‘active’ portion of the active adult resort. She was a member of the Nimble Knitters knitting group, Sit ‘n Fit exercise group, did some painting, sometimes watched her children play pickleball, and started a regular coffee klatch. She made many new (albeit, all younger) friends and thrived in her time in the desert. She also loved sitting outside on her patio knitting and reading, and could often be heard saying, “Did you know it was 20 below zero in Iowa yesterday—and here we are sitting outside.” She genuinely loved her last years in Arizona.
However, she was an Iowan for life and never missed a University of Iowa, Iowa State University or University of Northern Iowa football or basketball game on TV. She could hold her own talking about the players and coaches of her home state teams with the most die-hard and knowledgeable fans. That was also true for the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, PGA Golf, LPGA Golf or Professional Tennis. Bonzel, as she was affectionately called by some, was a wizard setting a television recording for a game and using the remote to spin through it in record time. One thing she and her children were always thankful for was her embrace of new technology; even in her last days, she was texting her grandchildren and friends around the country and sharing pictures of her four-month-old twin great-granddaughters.
Bonnie will be missed by all who knew her. She was a wonderful mother and grandmother, a great friend, and a genuinely loving soul. She lived a beautiful life. She was in great health well past her 95th birthday and, for all of her years in Arizona, she lived alone and even drove her own car around her community. Finally, her heart gave out and, after a short battle, she gladly went to heaven the same way she lived—with faith, joy, grace, and gratitude.
Bonnie is survived by three children: Roy (Judi), Jean (Steve) Doss, both of Goodyear, Ariz.; and Dave (Diane), Moorpark, Calif.; daughter-in-law, Joan Johnson (Gary’s wife), Moorpark, Calif.; four grandchildren: Alexandra (Paul) Harrer, Walnut Creek, Calif.; Matthew Johnson, Santa Monica, Calif.; Roy Johnson, Madison, Wis.; and Kaia Johnson, Goodyear, Ari.; two four-month-old great-grand-daughters: Peyton Jean and Hayes Marceline Harrer, Walnut Creek, Calif.; two sisters: Ramona Twito, Lake Mills; and Marjorie Tardiff, Scottsdale, Ariz.; as well as many nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends.
Bonnie loved Jesus and she was very much looking forward to seeing Him and being reunited with her husband, Roy, and son, Gary (who went before her in 2017.) She was also excited that she would be seeing others who preceded her in death—her parents, two brothers (older brother, Gerald, in 2016 and younger brother, Don, who passed just 107 days ahead of her) and many other extended family and loved ones.
Those who knew Bonnie often heard her say, “One Day at a Time” as a way to approach life’s struggles. However, in her last years, she embraced a phrase she loved even more: “We are leaving the land of the dying and going to the land of the living.” One of her favorite Bible verses was II Corinthians 5:8—“We are confident, I say, and willing to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Today, Bonnie is absent of her body, in the presence of the Lord—and in the land of the living. And she is smiling her beautiful smile. The rest of us will take it “One Day at a Time.”