• "I met Hal in Washington in 1988 when he contacted me about..."
    - Jon Holtzman
  • "My deepest sympathy to the family of Harold Bonawitz Jr...."
    - N. S.
  • "Hal was a valued colleague and a great mentor and friend. ..."
    - John Helmer
  • "We met Hal in FL where he was visiting his daughter and..."
    - Sandy Adkins
Service Information
Celebration of Life
Saturday, Jul. 18, 2020
Washington, D.C.

BONAWITZ Harold Allen Bonawitz, Jr. "Hal" (Age 78) Died of lung cancer on December 20, 2019 in Virginia Beach surrounded by family - but enough about that. He'd want you to know how he lived.

Hal was an amazingly loyal friend, a true conversationalist, who knew how to charm the hell out of people. That was his skill.

He loved cars and driving fast in them (he may or may not have invented the term "road rage") and would drive hundreds of miles for a Jack In The Box taco. He was a master at toasts, telling jokes, and nailing a punch line over a fine bottle of wine. He'd take great pleasure in kicking your ass at a game of gin.

He loved his four children and six grandchildren, and was always available to lend an ear and offer solid advice. They don't know what they'll do without him. Hal had an impeccable sense of style and knew how to choose the perfect suit. He was exceedingly proud to have worked at TIME magazine and was grateful for every opportunity working there afforded him.

He'd want you to know that his life was rich with experiences - like handshakes with presidents, private planes to Super Bowls, and tee times at the most amazing golf courses in the world - because he worked hard from a very young age.

Raised by a single mother in Wilkinsburg, Pa., Hal's first job was setting pins at a local bowling alley at age 12. Gigs delivering magazines, cleaning windows, and delivering mail as a copyboy at The Pittsburgh Press would follow. He joined the navy as a teenager and served as an aviation structural mechanic on the USS Yorktown. After the navy, he put himself through school and earned an associate's degree at California State Fullerton.

Determined to work for the Fullerton News Tribune, Hal called about advertising jobs for six months and eventually offered to work for free for a month. They took him up on the offer but ended up paying him and hiring him. With his foot firmly in the door, a job at the L.A. Times would follow.

In 1976, while living in Chicago and working for the Times, he was recruited by TIME magazine. He spent three years working in New York City before relocating to Washington, DC, and settling his family in Potomac, Maryland.

During his 25 year tenure selling advertising in TIME, he became the first tobacco and liquor specialist (he'd definitely tell you to stop smoking or vaping now. He lived to 78 because he quit) and was able to grow that into one of the most lucrative categories in the world. He broke major accounts like Land Rover and was an expert in the automotive sector as the magazine's Mid-Atlantic Divisional Sales Manager.

"Hal Bonawitz once said that if you look closely at a cover of TIME magazine, you'll see it's made up of the fingerprints of everyone who ever worked there. They touch it and change it forever leaving the institution stronger," says former colleague Suzy Wagner. "Hal was like that with the people in his life. A natural mentor, Hal taught everyone (young/old, experienced/new) how to connect more genuinely; work smarter and make things better."

Somewhere along the way, Hal fell in love with a small ski resort called Wintergreen, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He loved the secluded retreat he eventually retired to and cherished the friendships he made in and around the area and throughout his life, in all the places he lived. He would want you to know that life is what you make of it, he certainly made the most of his. He was the loving father of Lisa Dreshler (deceased), Ken Bonawitz, 51, who also works in sales, Charleen Thompson, 47, a teacher, and Amy Jamieson, 42, a writer who followed in Hal's footsteps and worked at PEOPLE for nearly 15 years (and hopes he's smiling while reading this).

A celebration of Hal's life will take place on July 18 in Washington, DC, where friends and family will toast a life well lived.

Condolences may be left on this website: https://remembr.com/hal.bonawitz.
Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 10, 2020
Give others a chance to express condolences. Not right now.