Bonnie Ellen Etzold (also known as Mom, Bee, Grandma Bee and Bobo) was born March 1, 1956, in Bloomington, Illinois, and passed away peacefully at the age of 64 on Feb. 18, 2021, while living in Seward.
Bonnie transformed the world with joy. In Seward, she revitalized the historic Cattle House, which she ran as La Ruche Bed and Breakfast. La Ruche was known for its wonderful breakfasts and hospitality, but it became a success due to Bonnie’s welcoming heart. Life long connections, serendipitous encounters and spiritual healing were all found around La Ruche’s breakfast table.
One of Bonnie’s favorite things about La Ruche was her opportunity to support artists. Particular thrills were collaborating with the Plum Creek Literacy festival by housing authors and hosting events, donating rooms to performers playing at Old Glory Theater, hosting a backyard concert by Andrea Von Kampen, providing a space for Ted Kooser to speak with Concordia poetry students and becoming fast friends with the sculptors of the statue of William H. Seward that sits outside the Seward County Courthouse. Bonnie eventually passed the Cattle House on to a new family and was proud to see its reinvigorated spirit continue into another chapter.
Bonnie’s true passion was sharing love with friends and family – particularly her twin sons, Ben and Sam, and her grandchildren Mikey and Isla, whom she shared with Mike Johnson. Bonnie fell in love with Mike, her partner for most of her life, at a Genesis concert during her first year of college. Mike was immediately drawn to her smiling eyes, and their love grew in the presence of Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, the Talking Heads and Prince.
After almost a decade together, Mike and Bonnie were joined by their identical twin sons Ben and Sam. Bonnie always talked about her time as a stay-at-home parent as her happiest, sharing the beauty and wonder of existence with them through trips to the zoo, meandering walks in the arboretum and marches around the dining room table to the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House” with Mike. Her greatest joy was having her two sons together, sharing in their laughter and occasionally assisting in writing ridiculous online wine reviews with tasting notes like “fluffy,” “pairs well with leftover spaghetti,” and “spills too easily.”
This joy was rivaled only by being “messy bakers” and creating holidays (any occasion became a holiday) with her granddaughter Isla, and learning transcendent truths from her grandson Mikey. Everything Ben and Sam know about raising children with love and compassion and indescribable support, they learned from Mom.
Another treasured moment was gaining a daughter when Ben married Emma Pfanner in 2017, whom Bonnie absolutely adored.
Bonnie left her physical body comfortably and on her own terms, holding the hands of her sons as they rested their heads next to her, with Mike Johnson and her beloved sister Rachel Pozehl looking on.
Bonnie was embraced into the next stage of life by her parents, Herman and Mabel Etzold; her sister, Mary Vanagas; her brother, Thom Etzold; and her brother-in-law, Tim Pozehl.
She lives on in her sons, Benjamin Erik Johnson and Samuel Ian Johnson, 34; their father, Michael Walter Johnson, 65; her daughter-in-law, Emma Pfanner Johnson, 30; Sam’s daughter, Isla Mabel Johnson, 5; Ben’s son, Michael Ulysses Johnson, 1; her sisters, Rachel Pozehl (whose son, Jonathon Eaton she referred to as her own “third son”), Rhoda Fink and Elizabeth Schroeder; her brother, Peter Etzold; her siblings’ beloved spouses and children; her life-long friend, Pat Butler; and the uncountable hearts that she touched in Seward, in California and across the world.
Visitation at the Zabka-Perdue Funeral Home will be Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 1 to 7 p.m. If attending, please respect the mask requirement and social distancing guidelines. A private celebration of life will be live-streamed from the Zabka-Perdue Facebook page on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m. A recording of the celebration will also be hosted on the Zabka-Perdue website. There will be a joyous party in Bonnie’s honor this summer. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Etzold family for future designations. Condolences may be left for the family at www.zabkafuneralhome.com.