Obituary: Evelyn (Young) Bonallo

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Evelyn (Young) Bonallo

March 11, 1926 - April 23, 2021

 

Evelyn Bonallo passed away peacefully at the home she loved, in the community she and her late husband, Harry Bruce “Doc” Bonallo, had served since moving to Blaine 55 years ago.

Evelyn, the middle child of Idella and George F. Young, grew up working with her parents, older sister, older brother, and two younger brothers on their farm in Hayden, Idaho. She especially liked helping in the garden and with the family business: Young’s Nursery and Greenhouse.

As a 5’1” side center on the Hayden girls’ basketball team, Evelyn learned teamwork, and with her good grades—especially in business classes—she earned her principal’s recommendation for a job at a local bank before her graduation from Coeur d’Alene High School.

She left the bank in 1947 when she married Doc, a student in the veterinary medicine program at Washington State College (WSU), but Evelyn quickly found a position at a bank in Pullman where she worked until the birth of their first child.

After two more children and Doc’s graduation, the Bonallos began a nomadic life while he vaccinated cattle and bison herds throughout Northwestern Montana, for the United States Department of Agriculture. From 1951 to 1954, Evelyn packed and unpacked her family of six in six rental or government houses.

When Doc transferred to Spokane, Washington, the couple bought their first home and added their fifth child.

In 1959, when the family moved to Eastport, Idaho, where Doc inspected livestock coming into the US from Canada, Evelyn saw the need for and coordinated youth activities and Sunday school for the 75 residents of the town—which the Bonallos increased by two.

The move to Blaine, Washington represented a dream come true for the couple and their seven children who gladly traded long bus rides for sports and other after-school activities.

Doc found work more challenging as border inspector for Blaine, Lynden, Sumas and the Port of Bellingham and while serving on the Blaine School Board, then as a city council member and, after retirement, as mayor of Blaine.

In addition to managing a busy household and supporting her husband’s community service, Evelyn became active in the PTA, the United Church of Christ Women’s Fellowship, P.E.O., and the Blaine Food Bank, which she founded, along with Reverend Donald Walter. Evelyn volunteered her time and business skill to organize, staff, and—with corporate, community, and, individual donations—expand the food bank beyond the UCC basement to its present location on C Street.

After his retirement, Doc and Evelyn traveled around the US, Canada and Scotland, spent time with friends, and enjoyed their expanding family. Evelyn remained a source and an example of strength and kindness. Laurel Olden, her granddaughter, recalls, “She was always patient, ready to offer a listening ear, quiet encouragement and a subtle bit of humor.”

Evelyn continued volunteering two days a week at the Blaine Food Bank and using her financial expertise to help family, friends and nonprofit organizations. In 2012, she was honored with a Whatcom County Volunteer Award.

Although illness forced her to retire in 2013, Evelyn continued to receive recognition for her work. A President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2017, honored her “lifelong commitment to building a stronger nation through volunteer service” and, in 2019, and the Evelyn Bonallo/Jerry Bladies Food Bank Service Scholarship was created “to recognize...young people who volunteer their time for the benefit of others.”

Evelyn will be missed by her brother George E. Young and brother-in-law Herbert D. Bonallo; by her children Barbara Bonallo, Colleen Wear, Trish (Loren) Loop, Daniel (Paula) Bonallo, Fred (Kathi) Bonallo, Lois (Kurt) Olden, Robin (Michael) Anthony; by her 15 grandchildren; by her soon-to-be 20 great-grandchildren; by her friends, and by the community she served and loved.

The family of Evelyn Bonallo plans a celebration of her life at a future date. Donations may be made to the Blaine Food Bank, Whatcom Hospice, or the Blaine United Church of Christ.

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