Robert Lynn Bonner, known to many friends as Bob, passed away on Dec. 26, 2020 at the age of 72, following a long illness with Lewy Body Dementia and other health issues. His family appreciate all the nurses, doctors and medical professionals who cared for him during the many years he was sick.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Jan. 20, 1948 to Tom and Kathleen (Jenkins) Bonner, Bob was close to his siblings, Carol (Paul), Tom (Linda) and Ken (Jayne). Ken, Carol, Linda and his parents have all died, and we know Bob is enjoying his reunion in the heavenly afterlife with them and also with his beloved Aunt Betty and many other family and friends who departed before him.
Bob graduated from Scottsboro High School in 1966 as class president. He was always proud of his football team winning the state championship his senior year, and it exhilarated him throughout his life to attend Friday night Scottsboro games.
Bob received a Bachelor of Science in Business from Jacksonville State University. He enthusiastically joined several college groups including the football team, a myriad of intramural sports, ROTC and the Iron Butterflies.
Bob served in the United States Army as commissioned second lieutenant and worked in insurance as a claims adjuster for seven years and a claims manager for 14 years. Following a 21-year career in insurance, he was a law firm investigator for 10 years.
Bob once shared that the greatest joy of his life were the 4Fs: forgiveness, family, faith and football. We would also add one more – friends.
Bob was married to Loretta (Livingston) Bonner for 49 years and was the proud father to Christy (Andrew), Jeff and Tim (Cortney). Bob respected and loved his daughter-in-law, Mary Kate, dearly, who died of brain cancer in 2014.
Bob’s children remember their father as a parent who was able to perceive the strengths and weaknesses in himself and others and would draw upon that uncanny sense to practice extraordinary empathy, patience, encouragement, humility, reflective listening and wise counsel with children, relatives, friends and strangers.
Bob loved all children and not just his own. He was the proud uncle to Ginger (John), John (Michelle), Ben (Chrissy) and Amanda (Nathan) and many great nieces and nephews.
He was the grandfather to Emelia, Kevin, Grayson and Isabelle, as well as a baby granddaughter due in less than two weeks.
When Emelia was a toddler, it delighted him tremendously to babysit her on Mondays. He also enjoyed teaching Sunday School to preschool aged children for several years at Hendersonville United Methodist Church. Those kids lovingly referred to him as “Mr. Bob.” He cherished serving as a youth leader and deacon in his Presbyterian church in Jackson, Mississippi.
Bob also drew strength from the support of Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Through his recovery in AA and the grace and forgiveness of God and his loved ones, Bob overcame addiction and experienced life more abundantly.
Perhaps the most evident display of abundant life for Bob was his rabid support of the University of Tennessee football team. He eagerly made many road trips across the South to see them play.
A friend of Bob’s recently commented that he could get along with anyone. Indeed, Bob was a friend to many. Several of these treasured friends are honorary pallbearers: David Anderson, Mickey Stuart, Mike Williamson, Vince Santoro, CV (Butch) Bodine, Ninez Giles and Jill Welch.
Yet, he believed the best friend a man could have is his dog. Throughout his adult life, he always had at least one dog. He enjoyed attending dog shows and could tell you the breed and history of any canine you might encounter.
Another great passion in Bob’s life was hiking and camping trips. He especially loved going to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. In lieu of flowers, the Bonner family asks for memorial contributions to be sent either to The Humane Society, in honor of his love of dogs, or to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, in memory of his love of the great outdoors.
A memorial service for Bob will be held sometime in the spring. He was such a great cheerleader for his kids, friends and colleagues. His family just all hope he knew how very proud of him they always were and still are.
He will be missed and will always be loved. We are grateful to God that he is now experiencing an everlasting peace beyond our human comprehension.