David Bohnett Speeches

Eulogy for my Father, Harry Bohnett, 1923 – 2010

Good morning, everyone, my name is David Bohnett. I am the youngest of my parent’s three children. Today I am joined here by my dear Mother Eloise Bohnett, a resident of Bay Village and neighbor to many of you. My brother Bill Bohnett, and my sister, Wendy Campbell are gathered here too. Our family is very grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve received since the peaceful passing of our dear Father, Harry Bohnett, earlier this week at 86 years of age. We will miss our Father, but no one will miss him more so more so than our Mother. Our parents enjoyed nearly 62 years of marriage together.

My brother and sister and I offer a heartfelt thank you to four special individuals here today all of who helped in ways great and small to assist with both our parents’ care and comfort. They helped make my Father’s final years the joy that they were. Rob Plattner and my Dad had a special bond where they squeezed in physical therapy and training sessions between the more important matters of football pools and sports scores. Matt Raab proved himself an invaluable co-conspirator with my Dad for all his varied projects, including outfitting their new patio upstairs, countless trips to the hardware store, lovingly prepared Sunday dinners, and wheelchair duty on the hilly streets of San Francisco and other places my father happily visited in his final years.

My Dad loved to travel. As his physical infirmities started to catch up to him, it was the greatest of all blessings for him – and our family, that Damon Mininni and Harry took several “bucket list” road trips in Damon’s fully outfitted RV. Damon gave my Dad the gift of freedom and excitement. They developed a lasting and intimate bond for which I will always be very grateful.

I was fortunate to accompany the gang on their last trip in the RV to Orlando, FL. I observed firsthand the care and close relationship Deili Rios had with both my Father and Mother. For many of you here at Bay Village, Deili is a familiar presence. Her loving care for my Mother is a gift that my Father was grateful for every day of his life.

Harry Bohnett was a man with great good fortune and joy in his life. His time on Earth was balanced with a full measure of burdens and challenges that men of his generation faced in fulfilling their service to their country, their family, and their community. Our Dad was a proud veteran of World War II, attending Morgan Park Military Academy in his hometown of Chicago. Harry Bohnett served with distinction at the Panama Canal and in France as a 1st lieutenant in the U.S. Army. After the war he enrolled at Northwestern University, graduating in 1948.

Dad had a successful career in the wholesale fuel oil business, starting at Bohnett Tire and Rubber, a company started by his father, followed by a long tenure at Clark Oil and Refining. Mother and Dad raised our family in Hinsdale, IL, a western suburb of Chicago, where we were all active in our community, school, and civic organizations. Our parents retired to Sarasota, enjoying boating, golf and tennis and happy times with their friends both on Siesta Key and here at Bay Village. My Father loved bridge and his last years at Bay Village found him organizing many a bridge night and making a new set of friends. Bridge was a passion I had in common with both my parents and my Father was an inveterate over-bidder. It was a testament to his personal credit that he tempered his natural tendencies to bid slam in every hand to accommodate to the more disciplined temperament and requirement of duplicate competitive bridge.

And it is fair to say that this was representative of one of my Father’s remarkable characteristics. Instead of hardening his views as he got older, which is by far the natural tendency, he actually overcame that inertia and widened his world view. He challenged his own previous beliefs and assumptions making himself an example on how to live a lifetime open to new ideas and perspectives. Along with an ever widening world view, our Father also overcame the natural reticence of men of his generation to talk about their feelings, hopes, success, and disappointments. This set our Father apart in his later years and was one of the factors that contributed to his own deep sense of personal contentment and satisfaction.

Our Father’s personal enlightenment was certainly a factor in his conversion from a lifelong Republican to a committed Democrat, as liberal as one could be on social issues and the role of government in our society. Dad voted for Barack Obama, he LOVED America, our country, and it was no secret that he couldn’t stand George W. Bush or Dick Cheney, believing that they betrayed the values he fought so hard to uphold during Dad’s distinguished military service. My Father believed in same-sex marriage and other progressive social causes. I am proud to say that I will continue the fight for social justice for all oppressed minorities in tribute to his memory and efforts.

Our Father and Mother taught us the value of hard work through their own example in how they raised their family and their contribution to their community. By their example we learned the importance of family and celebrating each another’s achievements. Failure was not an option in the Bohnett household – the pressure that created has provided numerous personal growth opportunities for my brother and sister and me throughout the years. We were loved deeply by both our parents. Our Father provided extraordinary financial, emotional, and moral support for our education. I am forever grateful for the boundless options and opportunities that his gift of education has provided.

Dad would be proud to be remembered as a man who paid his debts, and his father’s debts, and the debt he paid to The United States. He kept his end of the “American dream” bargain by fulfilling his debt to society and raising a family the best way he knew how — not perfect, but more than damn well good enough. Be it playing endless baseball catch in the backyard, building a swing set or a tree house, buying that one special present at Christmas, cheering at Little League games, or teaching a new game of poker or gin rummy, Dad raised a proud American family; Our beloved father has earned his place in the hereafter.

All of us here know of Dad’s keen sense of humor, he loved a joke and could usually tolerate when the joke was on him. He was a kidder, and a clever man. I know my brother and sister and I are grateful we were taught, and had to learn growing up, a sense of humor. Watching videos of my Dad is a special treat, because he’s laughing so much and had such a sense of joy of life and the magic of every living moment.

He loved his wife, his three children, and his four grandchildren with the pride in his own role in their development, and with wisdom to acknowledge their individuality and differences. Our Mother and Father had a wide circle of friends, and again, taught us by example the benefit of generosity of spirit for those you hold close.

We will all miss you Dad, and Mother will miss you most of all, but I promise that you will never be forgotten. Your spirit and love will live on through Mother, through Bill and Wendy and me, through your grandchildren Patrick, Elizabeth, Thomas, and Mary Clare, and through their children and theirs to follow. Just like I told you the last time I saw you, you were a good Dad, and I love you very much.