Bonnie May Burkee
Oct. 26, 1922 — Feb. 15, 2019
At a time when Americans mostly stayed put, especially women, Bonnie got her degree from the Art Institute of Chicago and traveled the world on a shoestring with, at first her husband Irv, and then with her family, making lithographs and jewelry, taking incredible photos, and forging lifelong friendships in places like Mexico and Italy. She invited folk musicians into her home for jam sessions, and together with her husband Irv, built and lived in a log cabin far off-the-grid and later created their homes and studios in Aspen Colorado and Sedona Arizona. She was stylish and ever-so-chic, and a wonderful storyteller, always happy to treat listeners to the amazing and often hilarious tales of her life.
Bonnie was so many things: an artist and free thinker, a mother and a teacher, and a devoted wife and tireless advocate for her husband’s art and career. In her early life she was even a beauty pageant winner, a model (though she was always humble about that fact) and played tennis with teammates Bobby Riggs and the Evert Brothers (Chris Evert’s father and uncle). First and foremost, though, she was a fearless adventurer, devoted to living an unconventional and enviable life — the life of a true artist.
Bonnie passed away the evening of February 15th at age 96. Here is to an extraordinary woman, and one heckuva of a life well lived.
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With Restoration Hardware as the future anchor tenant in the Bidwell Building at the corner of Galena Street and the Cooper Avenue Mall, its restaurant will serve the new jaz center above and next to the Red Onion.