In Memory

Bonnie Jean Varner (Young) (Drama Teacher)

Bonnie Jean Varner (Young) (Drama Teacher)

Below is the obituary for Bonnie Jean Varner Young.

SALEM – Dr. Bonnie Jean Young died peacefully in her home on Feb. 15, 2013 at the age of 81.  Bonnie was born in Kentucky to Letha and George Jepson Turner but spent the majority of her life in Oregon.  She received her graduate degrees from Brigham Young University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon.

Bonnie was a master teacher, Professor Emeritus from Western Oregon University,

where she served as professor, program director of The Handicapped Learner Program and the Rural Special Education Program, and assistant dean of the OSU/WOU School of education. After retirement Bonnie served as a guest professor at Willamette University.   She was recognized as Woman of the Year in 1989 by the YWCA and received a Distinguished Service Award from the State System of Higher Education.

            As a grant writer at WOU, Bonnie wrote and directed training grants in special education.  She was responsible for $5 million dollars worth of grants, which provided tuition remission to hundreds of teachers.  When the Rural Special Education program was awarded Program of the Year in March of 1989 it was estimated that the students receiving these grants served 3,780 students with disabilities a year. In May of 1991 Oregon Consulting Teacher Conference created the Bonnie Young Award for Leader in Educational Consultation.  She was Given the Pioneer Club Award for Professional Services by the Oregon Association for Children With Learning Disabilities in 1993.  And in 1998 was presented an award in appreciation of dedicated service by the Executive Board of the Oregon Consulting Teachers Association.

            Bonnie always loved gardening and served as President of the Master Gardeners for the local chapter.  She was heard on the radio station KBZY each month with “What to Do In the Garden.”  She was also the voice of Oregon Centennial historical readings.

            She was very active in her church, Unity of Salem, where she served in a variety of ways including President of the Board for four years.  She also served on the Benchmark Committee, the Evolutionary Council and the Habitat Team.  She also taught classes in public speaking and directed the Readers Theater Team. 

            She is survived her cousins Marge Livermore, Terry and Pat Crites, Bob and Shirley Hanson, and Cora Lee McClean and her friend of 38 years, Dr. Bonnie Staebler.

            Services were held on Saturday, March 2nd at 1:00 p.m. at Unity of Salem, 1777 Fabry Road, Salem OR 97306.  Donations in Bonnie’s name can be made to Unity of Salem, P.O. Box 3518, Salem, OR 97302.


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01/23/14 01:29 PM #1    

Hugh Jackson

  Gone at 81....

  It seems almost strange that someone who influenced my life so much is not with us anymore.  She will always be remembered by me as a mentor, teacher, counseler, and friend.  But of course that special place she holds for me in my heart was as the wise, informative, and sometimes stearn teacher of dramatic and speech arts. 

  I have this picture of her in my mind.....Standing (stage left) in the auditorium at Sunset, fist firmly placed on her cocked right hip...   "Hugh... I thought we had this blocking down at rehearsel last night?"  She shakes her head as though in complete disbelief that I didn't have my movements already firmly implanted, takes a couple steps towards center stage, turns, walks back, sighs, and says:  "Alright.... Lets try it one more time...."

  A simple memory.  But there were many, many, more.  Some far more poignant and on a personal level.  She helped me in so many ways to actually graduate from high school with my self respect and integrity intact.

  Without her I would have been a defeated,  introverted, and inconsequential teenager.  She brought me out of a self imposed shell of timidity and an utter lack of self confidence.  If anyone thinks that a talented teacher cannot proundly influence a young persons life,  I ask them to look at Bonnie Jean.  (This is how all the drama and speech people referred to her away from her presence, because we had so much respect for her that in her company it was always:  Mrs. Varner.)

   Thank you Bonnie Jean....

   The world feels a bit emptier without you.

                                                                                     Hugh (Major Gletkin) Jackson

08/06/15 01:56 PM #2    

Terry Schumacher

Hugh, I have to say: You captured Bonnie Jean perfectly.  She had high standards (a good thing) and love for all of us.  She was one of the good ones, for sure.  Thanks for posting your memory of her.

08/07/15 12:05 PM #3    

Dianne McCord (Edwards)

Yes, Bonnie Jean had a big influance of many of her students.  I luckly was one of those students.  She had a way of making all of us do our best.  Love my classes with her. 

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