Bonnie Hensley Onks

The Renaissance Woman - March 20, 1926


This is the story of a woman that was born 50 years too early in the history that she was about to write. Bonnie's unique journey began on March 20, 1926 in Huntington, WV, as the oldest of four children. Her parents, Stella Farlor Skimmons and James Gallie Hensley blessed her with half siblings, after her birth: Charles Hensley (deceased), Billie Lee Hensley (deceased), and Bascom Ike Allen of Cleveland, Ohio. Essentially an only-child being raised by her maternal grandparents, James and Cora Frances Skimmons, Bonnie became very independent and self-reliant early in life. She skipped two grades in school and graduated second in her class from Vincent High School in Huntington, West Va., due to a "B" in typing. The principal swore to the parents of the valedictorian that Bonnie received the best education ever offered at VHS, because she took many more science and math classes than their daughter did! Wanting a college education, Bonnie joined the Navy during WWII in November 1944, and when she was tested upon admittance, her math abilities were shockingly apparent.

She became a Bomb Calibration Specialist at Dahlgren Naval Proving Ground , Dahlgren, Va. She was honorably discharged in July 1946 as a Specialist X First Class. Bonnie ventured out on a blind date in Sept. 1945 and met her future husband of 55 years, William H. Onks. Two months after she was discharged she married him on Sept. 6, 1946. Bonnie attended West Virginia University with Bill but became pregnant during her first year of school with her first child, Candice, (Candice Onks Abraham, Las Vegas, Nev.) whom she "loaned" to her mother to lovingly raise until she and Bill graduated. Bonnie graduated with a degree in Home Economics in May, 1950, and always told her children that she wrote all of their dad's English papers to keep his near perfect grade average in Mechanical Engineering. Bonnie and Bill moved to St. Albans, WV where she worked various jobs from 1950 to 1960 as three more children were born (William Harris Onks, Jr. (Melissa) Canyon Lake, Texas, Judith Onks Simmons {Ricky} Ft. Worth and Anita Onks Michael (David) Germantown, Tenn). She raised her family at St. Marks Episcopal Church, and worked for the Social Security Administration interviewing people who thought they may have been exposed to polio, worked at night teaching various sewing & cooking classes at Charleston High School, and then substitute taught when her youngest child entered kindergarten. She started her teaching career in 1964 at Hansford Elementary in St. Albans, and taught fifth and sixth grade for 11 years. In 1975 she switched to Bellville Elementary in St. Albans where she taught fourth grade for nine years and retired in 1984.

While teaching and with three children at home, she commuted to Marshall University at night, and received her master’s in elementary education in 1972. In retirement, Bonnie continued her hobbies that had always brought her pleasure: Bible study, reading, bridge, bowling, knitting/crocheting, sewing/quilting, and travel.

She and her husband Bill traveled most of the contiguous U.S., and also to France, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, etc. In 2001, Bonnie lost her husband of 55 years to depression. Bonnie decided to sell her family home of 47 years in St. Albans and move to Sealy, TX to be close to her oldest daughter. In 2004 at age 78, she moved and began another phase of enjoying life with a new set of friends in another state. She became 2nd in charge at the American Legion, joined St. John's Episcopal Church where she served on the Vestry and sang in the choir, quilted and played bridge with her buddies and daughter. In 2014, Bonnie decided to be close to her son and daughter-in-law, so she moved to Gruene Senior Living in New Braunfels. After three years of living in New Braunfels and making new friends and new family at Gruene Senior Living, Bonnie entered Heaven on July 30, 2018. Bonnie’s family would like to express their appreciation to the staff of Gruene Senior Living for the love and care they gave Bonnie. They truly loved her and they became a huge part of her life.

As a Christian, wife, mother, sister, daughter, grandmother (eight grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren), veteran, educator, student, world traveler, and loyal friend, Bonnie blazed new territory for women of her era before the women's empowerment movements by being who she was – a "Renaissance" woman!

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: either Wounded Warrior Project at PO Box 758517 Topeka KS 66675-8517 phone number 855-448-3997 or Hope Hospice 613 N Walnut Ave, New Braunfels, TX 78133 phone number (830) 625-4746.

A celebration of Bonnie’s life was held at Zoeller Funeral Home, 615 Landa Street, New Braunfels TX 78130, 830-625-2349 beginning at 11 a.m. Aug. 11, 2018.

Zoeller Funeral Home

615 Landa St.

New Braunfels, Texas 78130


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