Bonnie Lynn Womble Durden
“I’m just laying here counting my blessings,” Bonnie said these words one last time on Monday before passing Sunday June 30, 2019. It was her practice each night at bedtime. Knowing her life was blessed, it was a lengthy conversation with the Lord each evening.
Bonnie Lynn Womble’s life began in 1932 when she was born to Frank and Inez Womble July 9. Born in Noxapater, Miss., she was the baby of nine children. When she was a baby, her father died of malaria. When her mother later remarried, Bonnie became one of 17 children. Hardship in rural Mississippi was the norm: picking cotton and food rationing was a daily experience. It was a big event in her life to get electricity and indoor plumbing when she was 16.
It was apparent from an early age that she had a sharp mind and a penchant for numbers. After graduating high school at the age of 16 and being rewarded valedictorian, she moved from Mississippi to live with her sister in Albany. In Albany, she worked for the U.S. Air Force. This position led her to meet the young, handsome Air Force Supply Sergeant, Elmer Durden. Elmer declared on their very first meeting that they were going to have a “long and happy life together!” She replied, “Well you sure move fast!” Chuckling he said, “Well, where I come from, you have to move fast or you get left behind!” All this talk about marriage probably seemed boastful, but Elmer accomplished his goal, and they went on to enjoy a beautiful marriage for 66 years. Elmer preceded her in death by seven days. Bonnie always said she would follow Elmer anywhere.
Their marriage was blessed with three daughters, Marcie (Sam) Penland, Lynn (the late Phil) Duckett, Beth (Jim) Mabry, and her son, Randy (Janice) Durden. She was further blessed by nine grandchildren: Nicole Penland (Jeremiah) Bond, Tiffany Penland (Erik) Boyle, Samuel Penland, Shawn Wofford, Cassandra Wofford (Alex) Reece, Colby Durden (Nate) Baker, Charis Durden (Davis) Lacey, Jacob Mabry, Andrew Mabry; and nine great-grandchildren.
Bonnie will be remembered by her whole family for her wonderful Sunday dinners, Christmas candy-making days, her love of card games and how she made it clear that her most treasured thing in the world was her family.
Bonnie was a member of First Baptist Church of Ellijay, where she served tirelessly in her younger years. She devoted herself to GAs, Acteens and the Women’s Missionary Union. She was a member at FBC for 49 years.
In the community, Bonnie was known as a force to be reckoned with in bridge! Although diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for the past 10 years, she still played bridge up until two months ago. Her long-time bridge group helped her through the years, reminding her when she got a little ‘lost’ as her Alzheimer’s progressed. However, no amount of years that pass will allow them to forget the formidable opponent she once was!
When Bonnie wrote her valedictorian speech at Noxapater High School in 1948, no one would have guessed that 70 years later she could still remember it verbatim, especially when she failed to remember more recent occurrences. One last time in early 2019, she quoted that heartfelt speech. Struck by the fact that it was appropriate for a graduation from high school, as well as a promotion to heaven, it seems appropriate to include it now, in her honor.
“As we travel along the pathway of life, there are many occasions when farewells must be said. We seniors now realize the full meaning of Shakespeare’s words, ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow!’ To most of us this does not literally mean good-bye forever, but rather this occasion is a stepping stone to higher and greater responsibilities which will be ours as men and women of tomorrow. So farewell dear students, and we will meet again along the pathway of life, as we go out to serve.”
Bonnie Lynn Womble Durden July 9, 1932 – June 30, 2019. It was a wonderful life and she will be fiercely missed by her loving family.
Bonnie’s homegoing celebration will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, 2019, at First Baptist Church. The Rev. James Holt and Dr. Glenn Cumming will officiate. Interment will be in the Ellijay City Cemetery. The family will meet with friends following the service in the fellowship hall.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Lottie Moon Christmas or Annie Armstrong Easter offerings, at First Baptist Church of Ellijay, 164 Dalton St., Ellijay, GA 30540.
Bernhardt Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.