HENSLEY — Bonnie Lee McDonald of Hensley, Ark. was born in Paterson, New Jersey, but you’d never know it from her soft southern drawl, cultivated from a life spent mostly in Ark. First she lived in Tillar where she graduated high school in 1960 and married her first husband, Benjamin P. (Pat) Bell. She later moved to Little Rock where she and Pat raised four children. Bonnie and Pat divorced, but remained friends for the rest of her life, often spending holidays together with their respective spouses. In this way as in many others, she demonstrated that family was the most important thing in the world to her and that life was too short to hold on to stupid grudges.
She married Michael McDonald in 1989 and he became her inseparable best friend. They always looked out for one another and supported each other in whatever they did. She was so happy to renew her vows with him on their 25th wedding anniversary in February.
She raised three daughters, Katherine Day (Dwight), Robyn Bell –Epps and Lee Bell-Hovland( Sam) and a son, Benjamin Patrick Bell, IV (Darlene). She was the type of mom who never purchased store bought birthday cakes because hers were always so much better. She loved to make everything from scratch, preferably with things grown from her own substantial garden. It was her belief that as a kid, you left the house to go outside and play shortly after breakfast and you didn’t come home again unless it was lunchtime or you were on fire. She believed that the most important things you teach your children are self-sufficiency and independence. But always call your mother at least once a week.
She liked to call you and let you know when she sent you an email, but really preferred writing long letters with newspaper clippings about people you might have known from school or church thirty-five years ago. She never forgot a name or a face and she had a great sense of community. She was forever active in her church and with the volunteer fire department, organizing fundraisers or teaching Sunday school. If it was happening, Bonnie had a hand in it because she thrived on helping people, whether you asked for it or not.
Bonnie was extraordinarily proud of her nine grandchildren, Beth Carson, Lauren and Paul Schuller, Caitlyn and Ben-Patrick Bell, Connor and Casey Epps, Hopper and Rowan Hovland. If you ran into her on the street and hesitated a moment too long, she would whip out one of the many photo albums she carried with her at all times and regale you with stories about the amazing feats her beloved grandchildren had accomplished. She considered each of them a gift.
Her family extends beyond her blood relatives because she welcomed so many people into her heart over the course of her life. Every single one of us will miss her terribly. Other survivors are a brother, Charles Fritsch, Jr. (Terri) of Tillar, and her sisters, Robyn Credo, Meg Soltis (Joe), Mary Partow (Dave) and a sister-in-law, Ruth Vowell . She was preceded in death by her parents, Charles Henry Fritsch, Sr. and Joyce May Adamsti Fritsch, and her half brother, Sonny Vowell.
Visitation will be held Friday, May 9th from 6-7 p.m. with a rosary at 7 p.m. at Memorial Gardens Funeral Home in Sheridan. The funeral will be 1:30 p.m, Saturday, May 10 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Sheridan. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery in Sheridan.
Arrangements by Memorial Gardens Funeral Home of Sheridan (870)942-1306. To sign the online guestbook, www.memorialgardenssheridan.com