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Bernice (Bonnie) May Whaler was born on November 13, 1932 in Sioux Falls to August and Rossella (West) Whaler. After attending Washington High School, Bonnie went on to win a beauty pageant becoming Miss Eau Claire, WI. Before attending the preliminaries for the Miss America Pageant she was in a car accident that forced her to resign her title, but she continued to travel, living in places such as California and New Mexico with her first husband. In 1953, she gave birth to her first daughter, Debra Lynn.
On March 27, 1954 Bonnie was united in marriage to Thomas A. Skaff, with whom she shared 59 years of a happy, loving, and family-filled marriage. Tom and Bonnie had two more children: Thomas, Jr. in 1956 and Sherry in 1958. They both worked and raised their three children in Sioux Falls. Bonnie's main priority in her life was always her family and devotion to Christ and living by his example. She was the most excellent wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother anyone could ever ask for - always placing others before herself - always full of love and grace.
Throughout the years, Bonnie worked a variety of employment which included managing a bar, insurance sales, and production manager at Raven Industries. She retired from the Lewis Warehouse in 2002, after 28 years of service. Bonnie was an active member in ACORN in the late 1970's and was chosen as a delegate for South Dakota at the 1979 Democratic National Convention where she had the honor to meet Jimmy and Roslynn Carter.
Grateful for having shared Bonnie's life are: her husband, Tom; 3 children, Debbie (Darwin) Jaqua of Sioux Falls, Tom (Toni) Skaff of Norfolk, NE, and Sherry (Robert) Amburn of Sioux Falls; 10 grandchildren; 8 great-grandchildren; sister, Beverly Farmer of Sioux Falls; and brother, Byron (Jackie) Whaler of Olivet, SD. Bonnie is preceded in death by her parents and an infant son, Terry Lee.
Published in The Argus Leader on Aug. 21, 2013