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Virgil Bonner Sept. 8, 1926 - July 17, 2017

July 23, 2017
Estherville News

A celebration of life service for Virgil L. Bonner, 90, of Estherville, formerly of Ottumwa, was held 10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 22, 2017, at VFW Post 3388 in Estherville with Pastor Doug Burton officiating. Interment will be held at a later date at Oak Hill Cemetery in Estherville. Virgil passed away on July 18, 2017, at the Dougherty Hospice Home in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Virgil Lee Bonner, son of Gerald and Jessie (Lincoln) Bonner was born on Sept. 8, 1926, in Iowa City. The family grew up on an island, known as "Bonner Island", in the middle of the Des Moines River near Sandy Lane in Ottumwa. Virgil attended Franklin School, but withdrew from school at an early age to help the family. He was drafted in 1944, during WWII, and selected the Army as his branch of choice; he was deployed to Japan and the European Theater. After the end of the War he entered into the Army Reserves. He returned home to Floris, Iowa, where he met Helen Arlene Saner. During the Korean Conflict, he was called back to active duty, serving overseas for six months. Virgil helped build many bridges in Korea that are still in use today. After being honorably discharged from active duty, Virgil was married to Helen on Dec. 19,1951, in Eldon, Iowa. The couple had five children, Don, Joyce, Ralph, Rick, and Darrell; and made their home in Ottumwa. Education was very important to Virgil, so while his children were in school, he attended classes and obtained his High School Diploma from Ottumwa High School in 1970. Virgil was employed at Morrell's Meat Packing Plant in Ottumwa until its closure when he and the family relocated to Estherville. Virgil continued to work for Morrell's in Estherville until its closure. In his 60's Virgil, went back to school to obtain his Associates Degree in Small Engine Repair from Iowa Lakes Community College. During his "retirement" years, he worked for Ferguson's Landscape in Spirit Lake and Sears in Estherville.

Virgil was an active member of the communities that he lived in. While living in Ottumwa he was a little league coach, active member of Local P1 AFL CIO Union, served on the School Board, and helped build the National League Field. Upon moving to Estherville he was very active in the American Legion and VFW Posts, serving on the Honor Guard until he was 89 years old. He also enjoyed his time with the Gray Beards, reminiscing about their time in Korea. Virgil and Helen, enjoyed square dancing; being members of the Estherville Bustle Rustlers for many years.

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Virgil was a lifelong sports fan, especially for the St. Louis Cardinals, Iowa Hawkeyes, Ottumwa Bulldogs, ELC Midgets, and ILCC Lakers. Virgil had a special passion for supporting the activities in Estherville, he could be seen at any of the sporting complexes around town throughout the year, not only cheering on his children, grandchildren, and extended family; but all the kids in the community. So much so that he was awarded the first "Fan of the Year" from the ELC Booster Club in 2001. He was a great family man, and was always there to support his grandchildren and great-grandchildren in their chosen activities and school performances.

Virgil is survived by his children: Donald (Tammy) Bonner of Estherville, Joyce Bonner of Estherville, Ralph Bonner of Forest City, and Darrell (Tracie) Bonner of Pequot Lakes, Minn.; his daughter-in-law Julie Bonner of Estherville; seven grandchildren Barry (Shanette), Jeremy (Jodi), Jessica, Kellen, Christian, Gable (Ashley Lullmann), and Chase; and eight great-grandchildren. Virgil is also survived by his sister Lorretta Wiggins and sister-in-law Gerda Bonner.

Virgil is preceded in death by his wife Helen, his son Richard Bonner, his siblings Gerald "Roy", Lois (Nelson) Spencer, Larry, Kermit "Butch" (Ruth), Jack (Juanita), Mavis, and Marilyn, and brother-in-law Harold Wiggins.

Online condolences may be left for the family at



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