Bonita “Bonnie” Louise O’Connell, 71, of Fox Crossing, WI went running, with arms open wide, laughing and smiling into the loving arms of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ on Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Ontonagon, MI. She unexpectedly passed away after having the “Best June Day in the Yoop” with her beloved family and friends. She came “home” one last time to go to her eternal home in heaven.
Bonnie was born in Hancock, MI to Elmer and Melba Pantti on April 18, 1949. She was the second-born of 6 children. The family resided in Rockland, MI where she started her elementary years at Roger Clark School also located in Rockland. She attended all of her school years in Rockland and Ontonagon expect for her 7th grade year when the family moved to Ypsilanti, MI in 1961. Bonnie graduated as the last of The Polar Bears from Ontonagon High School in 1967.
After graduation, Bonnie moved to Chicago, IL for a few months to work and lived with extended family. However, her heart was for her home and she decided to move back to pursue a degree in cosmetology starting in the Fall of 1967 at the Escanaba Beauty Academy in Escanaba, MI. In the summer of 1968, Bonnie began dating the love of her life, Patrick O’Connell, while he was on leave from the army. As he was away, she finished cosmetology school and got a job at the White Pine Inn as a waitress before she received a job in her field at Audrey’s, a hair salon in Ontonagon, MI.
Bonnie and Patrick were united in marriage on September 26, 1970 at the United Methodist Church in Rockland. Bonnie and Pat built a home and resided in Rockland. It took them 9 years to start a family after many losses. However, they adopted and welcomed their first son, Kenneth, in May of 1979 and a short five months later, surprisingly, welcomed the birth of their daughter, Rebecca. They completed their family in 1986, with birth of their second son, Joshua.
Bonnie was a very dedicated stay at home mother for 18 years. She babysat family and friends, always loved children around her, and ran her children around to many activities and events. In 1997, after their two oldest children graduated from Ontonagon Area Jr. Sr. High School, the family moved to Menasha, WI to reunite with Patrick after living apart for one year as he had moved for employment due to the closure of White Pine Copper Mine. Upon moving, Bonnie reentered the workforce as a child care provider. She worked one year at Little Rock Day Care in Menasha, WI from 1998-1999. She finished her working years before retiring at The Thrivent Child Learning Center (changed names several times throughout the years) from 2000-2014. She retired early to take care of her ailing mother until 2017.
Bonnie’s greatest earthly joy was to be around her family. Her dedicated, sacrificial love for them was indescribable. Her husband was the love of her life and she loved telling her children and grandchildren how she fell in love with him at 14 years of age. She was so excited and proud to be celebrating their 50 year Anniversary later this year. She was there for her children and grandchildren no matter what time of day or night and was always willing to help and pour into their lives. There are no words to describe the love she showed her family. Her pure love and wisdom was something that they all were so grateful for. Bonnie’s personality was larger than life. Her contagious laughter, joy and desire to connect with people to learn their “story” was one of her greatest qualities. She had the gift to gab and was usually always the last one to leave an event because of her conversations! Bonnie was also everybody’s cheerleader. She absolutely loved people! It wasn’t unusual for her to strike up a conversation with a stranger anywhere she was. But, she also had the gift to listen. Her phone and her home were a place where many would call and visit to vent. She was an avid reader and loved to research. She had a passion for healthy, wholistic lifestyle. Her greatest quality, however, was her unwavering faith in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She was a pillar of light and strength. Through all the trials and storms of life her anchor held; she stayed firm and steadfast in her faith. This gift of resurrected life and hope was one she wanted to share always and to anyone who would listen. Her faith has now become her sight. There really wasn’t a conversation that didn’t elude to her faith in Jesus. No one was left to wonder where she stood. She never judged; only always accepted. She also had the gift of hospitality. Her doors were open to all no matter what. Her heart was so big and kind and she prayed for everyone. To truly know Bonnie was to love her.
Bonnie is survived by her loving husband, Patrick O’Connell; three children: son Kenneth O’Connell of Tomah, WI, daughter Rebecca (Brian) Dvorak of Kaukauna, WI, and son Joshua (Heather) O’Connell of Greenville, WI; five grandchildren: Korbin, Kalon, Ahnya and Nyah Dvorak and Lillian O’Connell; two siblings: Dennis Pantti (Diana) of Kingsford, MI and Sheryl McGeary of Rockland, MI; her sister and brother-in-laws: Patricia Pantti and Laurie Pantti both of Rockland, MI; Robert (Diane) O'Connell of Rockland, MI; Laurie O'Connell of Rockland, MI; James (Roberta)O'Connell of Greenland, MI; Colleen (Dave)Saari of Winona, MI; William O'Connell of Rockland, MI; Susan O'Connell of Houghton, MI; Catherine (Brein) Ricci of Houghton, MI, and many other nieces, nephews and loved ones.
Bonnie is preceded in death by her parents: Elmer and Melba Pantti; children: Michael, Ryly and Heather O’Connell; siblings Michael, Wendell, and Rodney Pantti; her father- and mother-in law: Robert and Anna O’Connell; and brother-in-law: Thomas O’Connell; and nieces: Tanya O’Connell; Micki Lynn Pantti.
The celebrations of Bonnie’s life will be held at 11:00am on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 at the Woodlawn Cemetery, in Rockland, MI. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be a preceding private ceremony for the immediate family at the United Methodist Church in Rockland, MI. Arrangements are made by Cane Funeral Home in Ontonagon, MI. The family requests that you wear your brightest colors to celebrate Bonnie’s life.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Ronald McDonald House Charities in Rochester, MN (www.rmhc.org) and if you would like to donate pop tabs, you may bring them to the service. There will be a basket available for collection.
The family wishes a special thank you to all the first responders, family and friends that have provided food and support during this very difficult time. Your generosity, love and kindness has been life-giving.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Bonita "Bonnie" O'Connell, please visit our floral store.
Ronald McDonald House of Rochester, MN, Inc.
820 2nd St. SW, Rochester MN 55902