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Bonnie Maas Morrison


1932 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Bonnie Maas Morrison Obituary
Bonnie Maas Morrison

- - July 19, 1932—March 4, 2019

She was born in Watertown, in eastern South Dakota, at the peak of the Great Depression. Her father, a young electrical engineering graduate, lost his job as layoffs were made at Commonwealth Edison in Chicago, and her parents returned to their family's roots in South Dakota. Bonnie's mother told how she placed wet washcloths over Bonnie's face to keep her child from breathing in the dust that accompanied the Depression in South Dakota.

She graduated from Central High School in Aberdeen, South Dakota in north eastern South Dakota, in 1950, where she participated in vocal-music and art activities. She enrolled as a Freshman at South Dakota State College in Brookings, in eastern South Dakota, in the Fall of 1950. On the first day of her first class ("Development of Civilization," Rural Sociology 101) she met, sitting next to her, Denton E. (Spud) Morrison, a Freshman from Brookings. It was love at first sight.

Bonnie earned an Associate Degree in Home Economics in 1952, and took a job at the Arlan Roe Photo Studio in Brookings. After an intense course of study in Minneapolis, Bonnie colored portraits at the Roe Studio. (Color photography was not yet perfected.)

In 1953 Bonnie and Spud were married, a bond that lasted more than 65 years. While Spud was earning graduate degrees, Bonnie's work coloring portraits was the main source of their livelihood.

Spud's academic journey was also Bonnie's. She took courses toward her B.A. Degree at the University of Wisconsin, at the U of California, Berkeley, and completed it at Michigan State in 1965. She went on to complete her M.A. degree there in 1967 and her Ph.D. in 1973. She was particularly and justifiably proud of her Ph.D. Thesis, "Socio-Physical Factors Affecting Energy Consumption in Single Family Dwellings: An Empirical Test of a Human Ecosystem Model." This study was one result of inter-disciplinary research supported by the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station. For Bonnie this meant part of her salary, conferences that led to the publication of proceedings, publication of articles and books, testimony before Congress, all adding up to a well-earned fine reputation in the national and international community of energy researchers, both social and physical scientists. She spent a year on Sabbatical Leave in 1979 as Visiting Scholar at the Department of Energy, Washington D.C.

Bonnie went from Instructor to full Professor in MSU's College of Human Ecology and then to be Assistant Dean of Urban Affairs at Michigan State. From there she was honored to take an Endowed Chair, the Mertie Buckman Chair of Design at the University of Minnesota. Simultaneously she became Chair of the Department of Design at the University of Minnesota.

After retiring from academia in 1990, Bonnie and Spud had an antique shop in Michigan. In 2002 they moved to Sarasota, to enjoy its fine culture of music, drama and art among retired friends from Michigan and many new friends. Bonnie started painting watercolors, reviving an interest and a talent of 40 years ago in Wisconsin. She published and gave to friends and family two calendars of her art, the paintings of which were often framed by recipients. The Morrison home is a repository and a museum of her spectacular art and of other art and interesting things the Morrisons collected over 65 years. Bonnie left an artistic legacy of her paintings, but also a legacy of creative learning for her devoted students both from the U.S. and abroad.

Bonnie was a strong, vocal life-long Democrat and Trump-hater. She often yelled and swore like a pirate at the tube, sometimes throwing the remote at it. She followed every twist and turn of national politics. She cheered for the Tampa Bay Rays and Bucs and shouted loudly for every touchdown and basket made by the MSU Spartans.

Friends and family are shocked and saddened by her passing. She leaves her husband, a brother, his wife and their four sons—her nephews, and many friends.

Bonnie died of stomach cancer five months short of her 87th birthday.

Many have participated in an on-line Memorial Service for Bonnie. Locally, a Memorial Service will be at a time and place to be announced.

For those wanting to make a donation to the South Dakota Art Museum on the campus where Bonnie and Spud first met, designate your donation "In Memory of Bonnie Morrison, to the South Dakota Art Museum." All gifts are made to the South Dakota State University Foundation which directs the donations as instructed by the donor. Google: South Dakota State Universit Foundation.

Bonnie's wish was cremation, handled by the Wiegand Brothers Funeral Home. The cremains will reside with Spud in a beautiful antique brass vessel her grandfather, an aide to General Pershing, acquired in China early in the Twentieth Century. He also bought the silk fabric from which Spud's grandmother made Bonnie's wedding dress.
Published in Lansing State Journal on Mar. 15, 2019
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