Bath Seniors Sharing- Ms. Barbara Bonnie

For one of our ongoing “Seniors Sharing” news stories I spoke with Barbara Bonnie at the Bath County Senior Center in West Warm Springs.

The reflections and values these active Seniors share brighten any day, and visiting with Ms. Bonnie was true to this again.

I asked her about some early memories, and she recalled clearly her older brother was a teacher to her in some years before she got to go school. It was too far to walk to from their home in Healing Springs to the Union Hurst School in Hot Springs. When some authorities realized there was a whole neighborhood of children not going to school, it was time for a change.

“So my mother was the first lady bus driver in Bath County. They helped her to get a car, and they paid her to drive us to school. She had a little car full of little kids. She’d take us, and bring us back and forth to school. I don’t know if that’s really ever been mentioned that much, but I think it should be mentioned.”

Mrs. Bonnie’s mother was Marie Kendall Stewart, and we’re definitely making note of her here on AMR. When I asked Barbara if she could recreate some of the route to school and morning routines, she continued.

“We were all stuffed in that car. Maybe about four of us. We were sitting on each others’ laps and what ever. And then we also had another neighbor, as we came down and past the hospital, there was a lady named Mrs. Wingo, and she picked up her son, Leroy,, and all of us went to school, and in the evening’s she’s pick us up again.”

Mrs. Bonnie had several examples of how different elders had guided her to adulthood.

“Well, in fact I had a teacher in high school, and his name was Mr. Hill, and he used to say, ‘Stewart, if you’ve got it, show me you got it.’

“And later on in years, I started to work at the Homestead. And my favorite supervisor was Mrs. Elsie Gazzola.   And she would take me with her everywhere she went, and showed me everything she could think of. And she said, one of these days you’re going to be doing this; and she was right, because actually, I became a supervisor.”

There were times she worked a little in different departments at the Homestead, but mostly Mrs. Bonnie was in Housekeeping.

“I’ve had some doosies though, but the last crew I had before I retired, they were good. There was an older lady named Barbara T. and she was from Covington; I just loved her. And she was dedicated. Very dedicated. Her work stood out. You could tell the older people that were dedicated because they took pride in their work.”

Once a younger employee was more than rude to her about issues of race. Ms. Bonnie assured him he would need to work with her a while, and get to know her before making such a judgement.   Now, many years later, and with Barbara Bonnie being a social media savvy elder, there’s a happier resolution to the story.

“Just a few days ago, I was fiddling with my phone, and I saw him. He befriended me on facebook. So he wrote on the facebook, ‘Yesterday I talked to one of the finest people I ever knew, and he said I was so glad to talk to her.”








Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

Current Weather