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Dr. Bonita Clark Cornish


1911 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Dr. Bonita Clark Cornish Obituary
MONTEREY, CA – Dr. Bonita Clark Cornish, age 102, died peacefully on October 10, 2013. Bonita was an amazing woman. Born in 1911, her father was a blacksmith and her mother a German immigrant. Bonita was one of three siblings and spent her childhood years on their family farm in Live Oak, California.
Bonita's ambition was evident early on. As a child, she proudly contributed financially to her family by picking flowers and selling them to hotels for ten cents a bouquet. Her gift for writing poetry blossomed early. At age seven, she entered a poetry contest in the Sacramento Bee and proudly won a leather pencil box, which represented a bright future to her.
Bonita excelled in school and went on to graduate as valedictorian from Live Oak Joint Union High School. As the first-ever female recipient of the "California Scholarship Federation", Bonita attended and graduated from UC Berkeley with a teaching credential and a Masters in History.
Bonita loved teaching and her first assignment was in Dunsmuir, California. In Dunsmuir, she met the love of her life, Robert Cornish. Together they had two children, William and Susan.
After marrying, the Cornish Family lived in Yosemite and eventually settled in Fresno, where she enjoyed a long career as an educator.
Bonita's passion to continue learning motivated her to earn a doctorate in education (Ed.D) from Coast University at age 90, yes 90. Bonita didn't think about getting her doctorate until after her she retired. "I met some teachers who had doctorates and I thought to myself, I could get one too." For her thesis she chose the history of the California Senior Legislature. She took classes and gathered information, but could never find the time to write her dissertation. "Sometimes I wondered if time would run out on me, but I always believed it would be time's fault, not mine."
With a will to make positive changes in communities and peoples lives, Bonita held many leadership positions in numerous organizations including the Retired Teachers Association, Alpha Delta Kappa, Democratic Women's Club and served three terms as an elected representative in the California Senior Legislator. Bonita was also a proud 75-year member of the "Order of the Eastern Star", Fidelity Chapter of Mount Shasta.
Her passions and hobbies included reading, music, writing poetry, knitting, gardening, traveling, camping, volunteering and following the Fresno State Bulldogs and San Francisco Giants.
Bonita was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Cornish; her daughter, Susan Smith (Cornish); and her son, William Cornish. Bonita is survived by her nephew, Eugene Williams; grandsons and granddaughters, Dr. Stephen Smith (Teresa Rowland-Smith), Robert Smith, III, William Cornish, Jr., Cindy Jo Leland (Cornish), Lisa Parker (Cornish), Michael Cornish, Bonita Keldzik (Cornish); her great grandson, Luciano Smith (Dr. and Mrs. Smith) and many other great grandchildren.
Dr. and Mrs. Smith would like to express gratitude to the following for contributing to Bonita's health, passions and legacy: The Park Lane, especially the staff of the second floor and the former activity directors, Barbara Call and Analyn Dollor, Heartland Hospice, Dr. Ronald Villamaire, Dr. Charles Bates, Mr. Bob Phillips and friends for sharing their love of music, Mrs. Alice Yamanishi for sharing her love for books and reading, Kay Colwell for making her look and feel like a million bucks, Chaplain Reuben Negron for his spiritual guidance and to all the friends who shared in Bonita's journey.
A memorial service including the Order of the Eastern Star, Reveille Chapter and Carmel Chapter, will be held Friday, October 18, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Mission Mortuary in Monterey. A celebration of Dr. Bonita Cornish's life will follow at the Park Lane, Monterey.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to "Friends of the Library", 625 Pacific Street, Monterey, CA 93940 or "Fresno Retired Teachers Association", 3930 E. Saginaw Way, Fresno, CA 93726.
Visit www.missionmortuary.com to offer online condolences.
Published in The Monterey Herald on Oct. 15, 2013
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