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Bonnie Jean (Luther) McGinnis

Bonnie Jean (Luther) McGinnis

Bonnie Jean (Luther) McGinnis, 93, of Deadwood, SD and Wisner, NE died peacefully surrounded by family on February 18, 2024, in Carlsbad, CA.

Born in Wisner, NE, on July 23, 1930, to Otto and Margaret (Meyer) Luther, Bonnie was the eldest of three children and spent her childhood on a farm in northwest Cuming County, NE. Precocious and bright from a young age, her early education began in a one-room schoolhouse a few miles from home where she rode her beloved horse, Rocky, to the front steps each morning. Amazingly, Rocky made his way back to the farm during the day and always returned to school in the afternoon, waiting loyally to take Bonnie back to the homestead, where often she could be found working hard on the farm and doing chores with her father, including riding a tractor from the age of six. She excelled in domestic duties and the art of homemaking as well, taking instruction and inspiration from her mother. Whether on the farm, in the garden, in the kitchen, or with a needle and thread, Bonnie showed curiosity, dedication, and strength — and carried these qualities throughout life.

Bonnie moved to Wisner and lived with her Aunt Ferne Moeller while attending Wisner High School. After graduating in 1947, she attended Colorado Women’s College in Denver, CO – unusual for young women in that day and age, but perfectly in step with Bonnie’s adventurous spirit and devotion to learning. In addition to enjoying many parties, a full dance card, and even a stint as a fashion model, she received an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts in 1950, and, afterward, her Teaching Certificate at Nebraska State Teachers College in Wayne, NE. Following graduation, she returned to Wisner to teach at the same one-room country school she had attended as a child, bringing full circle her love of learning, teaching, caring for, and inspiring others.

After returning to Wisner, Bonnie married her high school sweetheart, James Miller McGinnis, on June 21, 1951. The pair made a handsome couple and would go on to enjoy a life full of love and adventures with family and friends. Jim was enlisted in the US Air Force and, as newlyweds, they were stationed in Bangor, ME and Biloxi, MS. Bonnie and Jim made every moment count in these new places, taking great pleasure in enjoying the outdoors, hunting, fishing, playing bridge, music and the lifelong friendships made while in the service.

They then moved back to Wisner where Jim worked at Cornhusker State Telephone Company and also owned and operated a livestock operation buying and selling cattle and raising hogs. As a homemaker, Bonnie raised her three children: Michael, Scott and Jean, encouraging them in their endeavors and instilling in them an appreciation for hard work, gratitude for the simple things in life and a love and devotion to God, family and friends. She also spent cherished time with her parents, extended family and nearby friends. In the late 1980’s, Jim and Bonnie retired and moved to the Black Hills in South Dakota — a special place where they spent countless happy summers and holidays with their family. Following the death of her husband after 62 years of marriage, Bonnie moved from Deadwood, SD to Spearfish, SD and then to Carlsbad, CA in 2018 to be near her daughter Jean and her family.

Bonnie lived a full and interesting life and had many interests and causes to which she selflessly devoted her time and talents, including serving as a Republican delegate to the Nebraska state convention. Most notably, for nearly 70 years, she was passionately involved with P.E.O., a philanthropic educational organization dedicated to supporting and celebrating women. She served two terms as President Chapter EP and Chapter L. She was the Administrator of the Wisner Nursing Home and served multiple terms on the Spearfish Canyon Owners Association. She and Jim belonged to and were active in the Wisner Christ Lutheran Church and Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Lead, SD.

Bonnie was a great beauty and had a natural sense of style. She was always well-dressed and loved to cook and entertain. Her charm and wit made her a popular friend and party guest. She was not one to turn down an invitation, always with a gracious smile and a twinkle in her eye – yet she was equally comfortable being outdoors and working in the garden, taking solace in the beauty of nature. She could often be found feeding the birds, deer and wild turkeys in the middle of winter. It was common for them to come to her door and peck at the window until she threw them some seed. She delighted in family camping trips and picnics, picking wild blackberries from the bush for making jam, frying freshly caught trout on the fire and picking bouquets of wildflowers and forget-me-nots with her children and, later in life, her grandchildren, whom she loved dearly.

Bonnie is survived by her children, Michael L. McGinnis (Tara) of White Bluff, TN and Jean M. Carberry (Jim) of Carlsbad, CA; her grandchildren, Meghan M. Tavani (Michael) of Oyster Bay, NY, Meredith D. McGinnis of Nashville, TN, Kelley A. McGinnis of Omaha, NE and Mae M. Carberry of Carlsbad, CA; great-grandchildren, Madison M. Bacon, Nadia Erwin, Una and Orson Tavani, Beau and Boone Billings; sisters-in-law, Sally Chilsom of Lincoln, NE and Joell McGinnis of Cozad, NE; brother-in-law, Carl Brasee of Grand Island, NE.

She is preceded in death by her husband, James M. McGinnis of Deadwood, SD; her son, Scott L. McGinnis of San Marcos, TX; parents, Otto and Margaret (Meyer) Luther of Wisner, NE; sister, Karen L. Brasee of Grand Island, NE; brother, John C. Luther of Wisner, NE; and grandson, Mathew L. McGinnis of Nashville, TN.

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