Obituary for Bonnie Utley Austin

Bonnie Utley Austin died Wednesday evening, October 17, 2018, at Three Links Care Center in Northfield, Minnesota. She was preceded in death by her parents, Mildred Hovelson Utley and J. Douglas Utley, and her brother, Charlie, and her dearest, true friend, Dorothy Steffens. She was honored to be the mother of two incredible sons, Glen Douglas of Lakeville and Gary Dean of Eden Prairie. She considered her daughter-in-law, Yasuko, to be as near as could be to being her own child. Her most beloved granddaughter, Mariko Mieko Austin, is the light of her life, brightening every day with her wit, […]

show more

Bonnie Utley Austin died Wednesday evening, October 17, 2018, at Three Links Care Center in Northfield, Minnesota. She was preceded in death by her parents, Mildred Hovelson Utley and J. Douglas Utley, and her brother, Charlie, and her dearest, true friend, Dorothy Steffens. She was honored to be the mother of two incredible sons, Glen Douglas of Lakeville and Gary Dean of Eden Prairie. She considered her daughter-in-law, Yasuko, to be as near as could be to being her own child. Her most beloved granddaughter, Mariko Mieko Austin, is the light of her life, brightening every day with her wit, intelligence, common sense, and talent. She also leaves her Gwoop buddies – Dianne, Gayle, Karen, and Rhonda, her sister-in-law Phyllis Cummings Utley of Rochester, and several nieces and nephews.

Bonnie grew up on the family century farm, The Pines, near Preston, Minnesota. She loved school and graduated from Preston High School at the head of her class. She was active in band, vocal music, school newspaper and yearbook, student council, and was twice elected to the National Honor Society. She attended Winona State Teachers College (now the University of Minnesota at Winona) where she was active in Wenonah Players, band, Phi Delta Kappa and the honorary Purple Key Club, graduating with high honors. After graduating WSTC, she moved to Tracy, Minnesota, where she started the first full year kindergarten program in that city. She often laughed about the fact that she had 44 students in the morning class and 42 in the afternoon during her first year. When her children were young, she gave up teaching for several years, returning when they were both in elementary school.

In 1967, she moved her family to Northfield where she taught in several different grades. During this time, Bonnie was an early advocate for and participant in organizing a widely recognized staff development program that became a model for many schools. She was a member of a group of four Northfield educators who presented training seminars throughout Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. She was active in the Minnesota Education Association, serving on the Teachers Rights and Responsibility Committee, and Negotiations Committees. She was also a member of the MEA Board of Directors. She worked on many committees and task forces for the MN Department of Education and the MN Best Practices in Math Team. Her work with the Math Team involved presenting many training sessions for other educators. At the same time, she served on many committees for the Northfield Education Association, including several terms as Vice President and President, and several terms as NEA Negotiator.

After retiring from teaching, Bonnie found that retirement wasn’t all it was said to be, so she worked for several years as a college supervisor, helping student teachers to learn the “ropes.” She worked with students from the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, St. Olaf, St. Thomas, and Mankato State. She often said the best job she ever had was working for the Northfield Public Library in what she called her “fun job.” She enjoyed the people she worked with and those she met.

She believed her most important goal was to help her family and to see her beloved Mariko through University of Southern California, graduate school, and into adulthood. In addition, she loved reading, gardening, travel, knitting, bird watching and walking.

As she wished, no plans are currently made, but an informal (by invitation) gathering of family and friends will be held at a later time.

Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. www.northfieldfuneral.com

show less


2 Comments

  1. Jane Gambucci

    Bonnie was my mentor when I started teaching in Northfield…4th grade at Sibley. I had known her for a few years before that when I was subbing. She was such an inspiration and had a wonderful sense of humor. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.

    My mother was just a few doors down the hall from Bonnie at Three Links Her name was Della. I would visit with Bonnie and Stef often when I’d see my mom…almost every day.

    I stopped in to see Bonnie 3 weeks ago, but she was in a deep sleep. I will always fondly remember her.

    My sympathies to all of her family

    Reply
  2. Dave Hudson

    My mom, Marlys Hudson always had great things to say about Bonnie over the years. Somewhere in heaven, there is a group of teachers having coffee and swapping war stories and a good laugh.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shares
Share This

Share this obituary