Bonnie Jo Lawson, age 73, passed away Friday, September 18, 2015 at Lifecare Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. She was born on May 14, 1942 in Junction City, Kansas on Ash St. which was the city hospital location currently apts. She grew up in the NW corner of Geary County, near the Clay County line on one of the first places homesteaded in the county known as the Fullington place. A farmers daughter to the late Joe Rudolph who brought the first rubber tired tractors and combines to Geary County and daughter to the late Dora Freeman Rudolph who taught in one room schools in the area.
Growing up on the farm meant helping run tractors and trucks and tend to livestock - mostly sheep, which were shown at the 4-H fairs for reserve or grand champion, or singing in State 4-H chorus or at State Fairs Marching Band and Concert Band, along with leading roles in school musicals such as “Carousel”, were major activities in attendance at Manhattan High School. High school was started at Milford, Kansas and graduation was from Manhattan in 1960. Kansas City Business College and working at New York Life Insurance in Kansas City followed working in Colorado and Minnesota at Christian resorts. Returning to Milford was the discovering of a young college graduate in the church choir where I played the organ and piano. He was there as a new teacher and coach for Milford High School. Those were the introductory days for 16oz. Pepsi’s which was the common denominator that brought Jerry Lawson and Bonnie Jo Rudolph together and finally to matrimony August 3, 1963 at the Congregational Church in Milford were they had met. Life began with a long honeymoon to San Bernardino/Arrowhead Springs, California, at a Christian resort and same organization for whom she worked prior to marriage. As newlyweds, their first home was in Wakefield, Kansas. In a house moved from a location in the country known as Streeters Mill. It was moved due to construction of Milford Dam. It was the home of Bonnie’s childhood sweetheart within canoe paddling distance down the creek from my farm.
As a teacher, Jerry took different interesting jobs for the summer. Bonnie went along that 1st summer to Plains, Kansas, the home of Jerry’s parents where he worked the grain elevators and Bonnie Jo helped with domestic chores and there gave birth to thier first child and son who was stillborn and buried at Plains Cemetery. The following summer was spent working with Jerry at the Christian Resort in San Bernardino/ Arrowhead Springs, California, where we had honeymooned. Bonnie Jo was chief salad maker for the hotel’s dining guests making 16 gallons of jello for one meal, entertaining such celebrities as Gene Autry, a famous cowboy figure from the late 40’s and earlier 50’s and 60’s.
Summer of 1966 was spent helping manage private camp for the Baptist’s in the northeast corner of Kansas which by the way had been an old nudist colony in the 40’s, complete with an airstrip. Another child was born that summer, Elizabeth Eileen, who lived 3 days and is also buried at Plains Cemetery. In 1967 Bonnie Jo cooked for the young sons of famous coaches at Tex Winter’s Basketball Camp in Colorado while Jerry coached and trained. In the fall they moved to Waco, Texas where we both took jobs. Bonnie Jo was as a truant officer and Jerry was coaching. While there Bonnie Jo worked for Methodist Children’s agency with Jerrty as house parent to several hundred teenage girls. Summer of 1968 was spent in a pup tent all over Europe and down into the Middle East, complete with personal involvement in international incidents. 1969 back and forth to Florida with a direct sales company as an instructress in their Waco distribution center. In 1973 they moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. Where Bonnie Jo managed a group home for girls while Jerry attended graduate school. Back to Waco, Texas where Bopnnie Jo made her first LP record album and then back again to Arkansas where our only living child, a son, Conner Joe Lawson, was born in 1979. In 1981, We returned to a family farm in Geary County, Kansas. From 1981 to the current time Mary Jo helped with the rearing of their son, Conner Joe Lawson, and a foster son and daughter, Michael and Jennifer Hargis; assisted in our “Wagon Master” restaurant in Grandview Plaza, Kansas; helped build several churches; one in Arkansas; church organists for Zion United Church of Christ i Junction City, Kansas; a school bus driver, private bus driver, route driver for Flint Hills Rural Electric; Floral designer at Dillon’s stores after graduating from Kansas State University in 1994 with a Horticulture/Retail Floriculture Degree. In 2011 Bonnie Jo and Jerry drove OTR nation wide for Transport America. They took the summer of 2004 to work and play in Anchorage, Alaska, where their son and granddaughter reside. Bonnie Jo had made a couple of appearances singing in Nashville and as a guest with Joey Holiday who entertains for truckers at truck shows, truck terminals and truck stops. Bonnie Jo made a Country Western CD for truckers entertainment.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 A.M. Saturday, September 26, 2015 at the Anderes-Pfeifley Funeral Home in Riley. The family will receive friends from 7 until 8:00 P.M. Friday evening. Burial will be in the Plains Cemetery in Plains, Kansas.
She is currently a resident of heaven with her Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.