Bonnie is 60

We had a surprise birthday party for Bonnie. Long-time friends and family flew in for the weekend. To say that Bonnie was surprised is an understatement. Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

What can anyone say about Bonnie Braden that wouldn't fill two or three books? Yes, there are too many great stories and not enough time or space to record them all. But here are a few birthday greetings from friends and family, and some stories that are perhaps more memorable than others. Thanks to all who contributed. Enjoy!!

Message from Karen
Message from Rosemary and Larry Bonine
Message from Elaine Braden (Nanny)
Message from Marie Buckner
Message from Fred and Rosemarie Butler
Message from Kathy Capozzoli
Message from Joel and Nancy Denney
Message from Bill and Nancy Graham
Message from Brenda Howard
Message from Richard and Ginger Hunley
Message from Tom and Cathy Johnson
Message from Marilyn MacIver
Message from Katy McAllister
Message from Bette Meuleners
Message from Paul Roberts
Message from Sandra
Message from Sandra (More)
Message from Jim and Chris Rohleder
Message from Kim
Message from Barbara Wright

Garden Plots at Purdue
Following my tour in Vietnam, I was sent back to Purdue for more education. Purdue had a field behind the married students' housing that was plowed up each year and used for student garden plots. Bonnie wanted a garden plot, and I didn't. Bonnie pleaded that she would do ALL the work, and I wouldn't have to do anything. So on the given day there was Bonnie and I standing in line with many others, waiting to sign up for a 25' x 25' plot. When they got to the front of the line, we found that plots were just $4, so Bonnie talked me into getting not one but two. Soon we were there inspecting our 25' x 50' piece of land, not having much of a clue as to what to do. Of course Purdue, as a land grant college with a strong School of Agriculture, had lots of experienced students, so we watched them. I drew the ground up into furrows, then told Bonnie it was time to plant things. Bonnie said she wasn't sure where to do the planting. So I put in a string line that went down the center of each furrow and told Bonnie to plant things under the string. Bonnie said she wasn't sure how deep to plant the seeds, so I said I'd do it and she could just come along and close the hole. Bonnie said she thought she might be packing the hole too loose or too tight so I told her to begin watering while I closed the holes. Bonnie's idea of watering was to wash out the garden as opposed to spraying it so I told her to continue talking to other gardening friends while I watered. Looking back, I realized that Bonnie had done almost NONE of the work instead of ALL of it, as promised. At any rate we planted lots of "stuff" and kept everything that came up under the string line, weeding out all else, because they couldn't tell vegetables from weeds. One of our successes was with watermelon. Bonnie planted it and then learned from fellow gardeners that watermelon doesn't grow in Indiana. Well, Bonnie didn't know that, but we guess no one told the watermelon, as some did grow. As to the continuing work, mostly I did it while Bonnie "supervised" or chatted with the other gardeners, most of whom felt sorry for our ineptness and showered us with their excesses. ~ Jay

Celebrating a Wedding Anniversary
One time Bonnie decided to celebrate our anniversary by filling the bathtub with champagne. We never made a lot of money in the Army so this was a major event. She bought two cases of champagne for the festivities. Of course a champagne bottle holds either 750 milliliters or perhaps a liter, and a bathtub holds 40 gallons. So after using about four bottles and managing to fill the tub by about 3/4 inch she decided that maybe the idea, though well intended, would not work out in the real world of weights and measures. Oh, yes, Bonnie know how to keep it interesting. ~ Jay

Bonnie Arranges Nanny and Bill's 50th Anniversary Celebration - Twice
As the date of my parent's 50th wedding anniversary neared, we asked my Mom if we could plan a party for them. She said, no, that they really didn't want to do that. Okay, we said, and Bonnie began planning their SURPRISE party anyway. Bonnie began arranging a band, a limo service, and food and beverages. She generated a secret invite list with addresses stolen out of Mom's address book. Everyone was sworn to secrecy. However, about two months out, my Mom decides that it might be okay after all to have a 50th Wedding Anniversary Party. "Great!" We say, "but when you said no to our first proposal Bonnie and I already made plans for that weekend, so your party will have to be two weeks after your real anniversary date - that okay?" Yes, it was okay. So Bonnie and I would go visit, and Mom and Bonnie would go out to plan to "two-weeks-after" celebration, with food, invitations and everything. Of course Bonnie was right back secretly cancelling everything and telling people to ignore the second invitation. So, yes, Mom and Dad had a great SURPRISE wedding anniversary party and we all had a super time. ~ Jay

Bonnie Takes Anne Camping in Hanau
Mom was my Girl Scout Leader a number of places, to include Hanau, Germany. One time she took our troop out to the training area where we set up with other Girls Scout troops. But Mom thought camping was camping, and all the other troops thought camping was cots, special barbeque trailers and gourmet meals. We had to cook our food in aluminum foil in charcoal while everyone else was being served on plates and linen at special camp tables. I'm not so hot on camping any more. ~ Anne

Bonnie Plans the Family Trip to Las Vegas and Other Nearby Places
A couple of years ago Bonnie planned our family trip "out west." it included an initial stay in Las Vegas, followed by a tour of Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Then to the north face of the Grand Canyon where we took a mule ride down into the gorge on a day where it rained and Bonnie wore a white tee shirt. Then to Moab, Utah for white water rafting on the Colorado River. Then through numerous parts of the Indian reservations to the Petrified Forest National Park; then to another national park on the way to Hoover Dam. Then back to Las Vegas. Whew. it was the best vacation ever - all planned in great detail by Bonnie. But we had to give up on that last national park as the kids got overdosed on parks. Thanks for great memories. ~ Jay and the Kids

Bonnie's Dolly Parton Cakes
No only can Bonnie be the life of the party, but sometimes her food can do that, too. Bonnie makes a Dolly Parton cake that includes two Jello ovals to represent the well-endowed Dolly. Of course the Jello shakes even if the cake is sitting on a table. Quite a conversation starter. ~ Jay

Bonnie the Famous Pitcher
When I was with the 20th Engineers at Fort Campbell, the battalion had a ladies softball team. Since a combat engineer battalion has no females assigned, the team came from wives and lady friends. Bonnie was the pitcher, and earned a record one day for walking 34 batters. Yes, she was in tears then but after 20 years she can now almost laugh about it. ~ Jay

Bonnie the Soccer Star
The 20th Engineer Battalion also had a co-ed soccer team that played in the city league. Bonnie and I played. In our first season it took three games before our team scored its first goal, and we didn't win our first game until the second season that we played. Games were on Sunday afternoon and it always seemed to rain then. Bonnie (and ) would return to our quarters a muddy mess, often sore and bruised, but Bonnie liked it. ~ Jay

Bonnie the Cowgirl
Fort Campbell also had a stable operated by Recreation Services people. You could rent a horse and ride the many back roads of the reservation. Bonnie would take the kids horseback riding and into the training area, searching for our battalion when we were in the field. She never found the 20th, but had some interesting encounters with air assault soldiers. ~ Jay (See also the note from Ginger Hunley)

Bonnie the Baseball Groupie
Bonnie loves baseball. Her description of an ideal baseball day would be to go to the park early to collect autographs, watch the game, and stay late hanging around the locker room to collect more autographs. She can name all the members of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (our home team) and the New York Yankees (her favorite team). Let's put it this way: She would rather watch a spring training game at a local park than go to Busch Gardens. She would rather watch baseball than Desperate Housewives on TV. How's that for dedication? ~ Jay

Bonnie Arranges the PartieWagon
I was promoted to colonel while with the 7th Engineer Brigade. Bonnie hired a streetcar - yes a real streetcar but one made for such events - to travel the streets of Stuttgart. It was called the "PartieWagon." Bonnie made and brought on board all kinds of food and snacks, and also loaded it with beverages. So there we were, traveling the busy streets just having a grand old time, and being sure to wave at the people on the "other" streetcars that we passed on the route - and we had some fun with their reactions. Bonnie arranged the PartieWagon for two back-to-back sessions to accommodate all our friends. ~ Jay

Bonnie and Hermie
When I was a Brigade Commander, Bonnie and Jay got invited to a number of military and social events such as changes of command and military balls. Bonnie had a pin collection from the many units in V Corps that she had on a piece of flannel and would wear to these functions - always a discussion maker. Bonnie also made Hermies. These were wooden ducks on wheels that she would push with a stick. Hermies were also a topic of interest at formal affairs. Hermie always had a 130th Engineer Brigade Pin. Bonnie would push Hermie under the dresses of the ladies and then express surprise and anger at what a rascal he was. ~ Jay

Hanau Town Hall Meetings
Also when I was a Brigade Commander I conducted regular Town Hall meetings to address community issues. Most people probably came to listen to one of the chief "complainers" - Bonnie - who held me to a high standard of community responsiveness, and the people liked to see her let "the colonel" have it. ~ Jay

Bonnie's Park
When we bought our home on Brianholly Drive in Buckhorn Estates in January of 1989, the purchase price included something called “impact fees.” When Bonnie looked into this, she found that these fees were provided to the county in an escrow account for such items as community parks. Since children in our neighborhood had no place to play, she began to investigate how these impact fees were applied. Bonnie talked to county planners, our county commissioner, and the manager of Hillsborough Parks and Recreation Department. Bonnie learned that Buckhorn impact fees did not guarantee a Buckhorn Community Park; County Commissioners would make this decision. So Bonnie began a one-person campaign to get a park, including going door to door throughout the 600+ home community to get signatures. There were community meetings and ultimately an appearance before the County Commissioners. Plans were approved by the County Commission in June of 1991, construction began in March of 1995, and ribbon cutting and the Grand Opening were December 2, 1995. Thanks, Bonnie! ~ Jay and the Buckhorn Estates Community

Bonnie and Her Directional Challenges
Want to see true panic in someone's eyes? Just ask Bonnie to do something like pick up a friend at the Tampa Airport. Never mind that she's been there probably 50 times. Never mind that the airport signs are everywhere. Never mind that even Tampa visitors from East Blizekestan who neither read nor speak English can get there and back. ... Or how about staying in the same hotel room for a week and on the seventh day there is still a 50-50 chance that Bonnie will turn the wrong way when headed for the elevator? ... Or how about when even the act of dropping off a dinner for someone from church right in the Brandon-Valrico area is cause to wonder from where Bonnie will be calling to plead for directions to return home. Oh, yes, her internal navigation is completely unwired, but thankfully her head and heart are always in the right place. ~ Jay

Bonnie the Substitute Teacher
When I was stationed at US Central Command in Tampa, Bonnie signed up to be a substitute teacher for Hillsborough County. Many days she'd be called for work and tell them that she couldn't - she was already committed to volunteering at Buckhorn Elementary, where Robert and Anne attended. Heck, who needed the money anyway? ~ Jay

Bonnie and the Reciprocating Saw
Bonnie has become quite the handyman around the house - guess that says something about me. She does basic plumbing, tile work, hanging fans, and a variety of remodeling work, including tearing down the kitchen ceiling nine days before her surprise party "in order to give it a more modern look." Yes, we scrambled to get it back in shape without letting her in on the surprise we planned. In one of my Christmas letters I said that everyone at Home Depot knew her by name, and that was probably true. It's getting so that Bonnie's biggest turn on is not chocolate and flowers or something from Victoria's Secret, but a reciprocating saw. ~ Jay

Focused and Happy
When Bonnie is both focused and happy, as in being engaged in a good volleyball match, she whistles. She doesn't know she does it. Now you know the secret - so look for it :) ~ Jay

The Dolphin Encounter
For one of our vacations, Mom and Dad rented a catamaran - with captain - to sail from St Pete to the Gulf waters around Tampa Bay. The catamaran was nice: 39' with plenty of space. The captain took us out in the Gulf but we also spent a lot of times sailing the inland waters of St. Pete Beach. Mom was always looking for dolphins. So there we were, motoring the waterway when we see two dolphins. Before we know what has happened, there is a big splash as Mom, with snorkel and fins, has jumped off the boat into the water, and the catamaran is rapidly pulling away from her. The captain comes about hard and we pick her up. Of course the dolphins that she must have expected to act like Flipper, had nothing to do with her. As for me, my heart only took about an hour to calm back down. ~ Robert

Going to the Dentist
For some kids, going to the dentist is a thing to be feared. Not when Mom takes you. I remember that for an 11:00 dentist appointment she'd pick me up at about 9:30 from school and we'd do things like go shopping for me or have a breakfast snack. Then there would be the dentist; so we'd have to go have lunch somewhere special to celebrate the event. We'd get back to school about 1:30 where she'd check me back in and then she'd sit in the parking lot for about a half hour then pick me up from school to go home. I'll bet I was ther only person in the school who looked forward to going to the dentist. ~ Robert

Robert and his Stomach Aches
When I was in elementary school, I had this thing about using the "facilities" at the school. This naturally resulted in a quite a bit of discomfort, and I'd eventually report to my teacher about my "stomach ache." No problem. The teacher would take me to the School Nurse. The School Nurse would call home. Mom would come pick me up. I'd go home and "do my business." Mom would take me back to school. How's that for true love? ~ Robert

Keeping the Kids Happy
When I was in grade school I guess I had a favorite pair of pants that I liked to wear every day. The only problem was that one knee was ripped out. Now most Moms would say, “You’re not leaving the house looking like that!” (Actually she only says that to my Dad). Nope, she didn’t say a thing. If going to school in my ripped knee pants made me comfortable then that was good enough for her. By the way, if you ever see my band picture from that school you’ll see my hands over my knee. They were not there as a “pose” but to cover my bare knee sticking out from my ripped pants. ~ Robert

Canoeing on the Aliphia River
One time Mom took Anne and me canoeing on the Aliphia River. It looked like a lot of fun - until we found out that ALLIGATORS are in that river. Well that certainly added something to the adventure as we had visions of being dinner to one of the local river residents. But we were somehow making it okay until Mom decided that she needed a memory of the day. So she stood in the canoe to take a picture, but in doing so she unbalanced it - letting in water. We scrambled for the shore in utter terror, grasping for tree limbs or anything that would save us from big ugly jaws with razor sharp teeth. Well, the only good thing about this adventure is that if I ever have serious problems in my life I can trace my problems back to Mom and the trauma of that day. ~ Robert

Bonnie Spoiling the Grandkids
About seven years ago Bonnie also became "MiMi" as the first of now eight grandchildren was born. To say that Bonnie is wonderful with kids, and especially her own kids and their kids - is a gross understatement. She is perfect in every respect and it's interesting to see how our children now see pretty clearly what a wonderful Mother they have and what a great MiMi she is to Savanah, Seth, Sydney, Braden, Skyler, and Daylin. And as you might expect, when with the grandkids, the word "no" is not in Bonnie's vocabulary. ~ Jay

Bonnie Keeping Things in Perspective
One of great things about Bonnie is her ability to sort the big things from the little things. Spill greasy tomato sauce on a carpet that she has just had cleaned and while you are apologizing like mad and fussing at yourself for making a terrible mess, Bonnie will be there cleaning it up and telling you it's no big deal. Break something and be embarrassed and mad at yourself while Bonnie will be there saying not to worry because it can be fixed or "it's only money" - which is true. She is truly a "count your blessings" person. On the other hand, if a business provides bad service she'll be writing the company - mostly with amazing results. ~ Jay

Bonnie's Breakfast in Hanau
Mom loves to cook. Everyone know that. I especially remember in Hanau when all my friends used to come over for "Bonnie's Breakfast." She was always good for something special like crepes or waffles with all the trimmings. ~ Sandra.

Top Ten Things you don’t want to hear from your children!
10. The Hyatt is our favorite place to go!
9. What is Mimi’s phone number?
8. Is it okay to be locked out of a house, mom?
7. We don’t always have to swim in our clothes.
6. Mimi told us about a story she wrote.
5. Mimi lost Seth.
4. Mimi jumps better than you do on the trampoline.
3. Mimi told us she grounded you when you were little.
2. When is our next cruise?

... and the Number One thing you don't want to hear...

1. MIMI WOULD LET US!!!

~ Sandra

Bonnie's Cow Bell
When I played soccer at Bloomingdale High School Mom and Dad would always be there at the games. But Mom would always bring her cow bell, and she'd shake it vigorously whenever I made a play. I told everyone how I didn't like her embarrassing me like that, but the truth is that I liked it a lot. ~ Sandra

Bonnie and Her Cures
Bonnie is into home remedies. Our cupboard could stock a GNC store for two months. If you have a problem, she has a solution: pills, dissolve-on-your-tongue tablets, herbal mixes concocted in the blender, ointments. And no doubt suppositories if we’d tolerate it. I have to be very careful around the house; if I cough to clear my throat she’s right there with fourteen pills and three glasses of water. ~ Jay

Bonnie and Her Faith
Any stories or memories about Bonnie would be incomplete with telling just what a wonderful person she is in her faith. She rises each morning early for her Bible reading and lessons, attends Bible studies, is active in the church and is - in all respects - the model for Christian living. She does volunteer work and is an encourager for the family and others. Thank Heaven for Bonnie. ~ The whole Braden family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
From Karen

When living at Hanau, I remember my dad going “TDY” in our backyard—well about 100 yards from our house. I remember my mom and me hauling hot water in large black garbage bags out to my dad. She would also always make all the troops homemade cookies and take them out to them. Way to rough it!!

I cannot remember my mom missing a single game or competition I was in. I remember driving forever to swim meets and “camping out” in the gym for hours. I remember her cow bell at all my games. And though I always stated that I was embarrassed, I was very proud that she was always there.

I always wanted to learn how to cook; but if I took lessons from my mom, I would have had to become a chef. My mom did not know, and still does not know, how to cook for two or four people. When she cooked, we fed the neighborhood. I never had to worry about not having enough food in case my friends stopped by. And this still has not changed—have you seen her frig?

One year during my birthday week, my family rented a catamaran. One day while heading to our next destinations, we came upon a group of dolphins. The dolphins were swimming along side of the boat. The next thing I saw was my mom, who was fully clothed, running off the end of the boat to swim with the dolphins. She honestly did not even think twice about what she was doing or going to do. All she could think about was swimming with the dolphins. The funning thing is that recently we found out that swimming with wild dolphins is a major felony—if only dolphins could talk.

Every night the triplets get read to before going to bed. This is a way to start calming them down and relaxing. Well at our last family vacation while I was reading, mom stood right behind acting out all the books. Needless to say, the triplets never got calm. It was like watching a really bad episode of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Love,

Karen

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From Rosemary and Larry Bonine

How we would love to be with you when it all comes together! She has to be one of the most fun and beloved entities on the planet. That laugh! When you are with her and she lets it loose, you just know that everyone within earshot envies you and wants to be with you at her table.

May I have 2 memories? The first one is miniscule, but so telling! We had just arrived off the plane from the States - Frankfurt, June 1977. Long trip, two tired little girls. Expecting the "Usual" in terms of Army sponsors - somehow Belly Dancing lessons on my very first night hadn't been on my radar screen - but there we were - supply, pliant laughing Bonnie acting like it was the most natural thing in the world to be there - and, you know what, it was! What a hoot - great fun.

The second memory (and they are all like this) is of the time Bonnie and I took our 4 girls, Karen and Sandra (Bonnie's) and Kelly and Suzy (mine) to the Schwartzenwald (Black Forest - as in Baden Baden, etc.) for a picnic. This would be in the spring/summer of 1978.

Well, we headed off early in the morning. Took us about a couple of hours, I think, to get there. We always had a great time together, with lots of laughter (this is with Bonnie, right?) Anyway, as the afternoon wears on, we pack up the kids and head for home - Frankfurt - about 2 hours away.

Soooo - we're heading up the Autobahn (I can't remember for the life of me who was driving and who was navigating) but all of a sudden, out of the darkness, appears this sign, which says (in German) WELCOME TO BITTBURG! Bittburg??? Well, the guys had been somewhat apprehensive when we hadn't already shown up at home (with their children) but their concern was miraculously replaced by incredulity - the fact that we had been having such a great time chatting that we had completely missed all the exit signs for Frankfurt and had blithely driven at least a further full hour north (in the dark) to Bittburg. Being with Bonnie is so marvelous that the minutes just melt away.

Hey Bonnie. Happy, Happy Birthday from us both from the bottom of our hearts. You're just the greatest! Do you still have the cow bell?

Lots and lots of love

Rosemary and Larry

Love the photo of Bonnie comforting the dolphin. You guys are so great, I'm laughing as I type this. We're looking forward to the Website after the 19th. Give each other a big kiss and hug from us.

Rosemary

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From Marie Buckner

Wow, where do I start with the memories of the Bradens, especially Bonnie. They began from the moment I met her. From dropping in at the quarters to coming by the office, luncheons, hail and farewells, and Go Karts Plus.

But my most memorable and favorite memory would be my retirement luncheon. Bonnie impersonated "the Colonel" in full BDU uniform and in her best "commander's voice" started giving "orders" to his secretary, portrayed by COL Braden. All of this was played to the "nth" degree. Another fond memory occurs every Christmas. Upon my retirement Bonnie presented me with an Uncle Sam nutcracker. Little did she know it started me collecting nutcrackers and now as I display them during the holidays, Uncle Sam is in the forefront leading all the troops.

It is hard to believe Bonnie is turning 60. But you know what "they" say, 60 is the new 40. Best wishes and Happy Birthday!

I am doing ok. I miss Buck very much. Enjoy every minute you have together. 46 years went by too quickly. Say hello to everyone for me.

Marie Buckner

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From Elaine Braden (Nanny)

We’ll never forget our trips to Germany. We traveled all over. Jay and Bill rode in the front, and Bonnie, me and the girls all managed to fit in the back. We went to some marvelous places – locations we never dreamed of ever going and where I’ll never forget. We knew many of these places were trips that Jay and Bonnie had already visited but were good enough to bring us back to anyway.

I especially remember the effort you put into Dad's and my 50th wedding anniversary! Bonnie had the entire weekend planned to the nth degree. (I especially loved hearing that she wrote many invitations by flashlight while hiding under a blanket!) So many details, everything was lovely - I'll never forget it. I know there was help but I also know that Bonnie was the Master.

Everything I can remember has laughter in it; but also there is a serious side - such as all Bonnie did with insurance and other paperwork when Dad passed away.

Good memories, but best of all is seeing how happy you two have made each other.

With love,

Mom/Nanny (Elaine Braden)

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From Fred and Rosemarie Butler

Dear Bonnie,

Congratulations on reaching a significant milestone. Rosemarie and I have many wonderful memories of our time together in Germany. We wish you a joyous celebration surrounded with family and friends and we can speak from experience that life begins at 60 since we have long sense passed that milestone.

Happy 60th Birthday!

Rosemarie & Fred

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From Kathy Capozzoli

Bonnie was my best friend in high school and we lived fairly close to one another on the base at Ft. Belvoir. I guess one of the funniest things is how she and my older brother, Bill, treated one another. She called him "Dumbo" (big ears) and he called her "Stretch". The picture in your e-mail with her in the water with a dolphin is priceless.

Kathy Capozzoli

Note from Jay: Bonnie says the other kids called her and Kathy "Mutt and Jeff" because of their height difference.

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From Joel and Nancy Denney

Dear Bonnie,

It's about time that you caught up!! One of the funniest moments that we shared was in Hanau. Someone, I believe Lynn Rame, spoke with us very seriously about the Commanding Officers Wives group. This group was comprised of battalion and brigade level wives. We meet for the first time when the announcement made and Bonnie turned to me and said "Do you believe we are going to be called 'Cows' is that a kick or what."

Needless to say Bonnie, Nancy, Cathy Johnson, and Julie Green lost control. The frown on our hostess's said all that needed to be conveyed. Bonnie was already cooking up an idea. The next group meeting just so happened to me across the street from the two of us and Bonnie showed up in a timely manor, but just a little bit late. On her person was the biggest cow bell I have ever seen with a lot of ringing to boot. There was not a dry eye in the house as everyone was hysterically. When it was Bonnie's turn our invitation came and contained many references to, "grazing, we are outstanding in our field, goodies that were utterly delicious," etc.

Bonnie, you were the sunshine in all of our dreary days in Germany. I know with my heart you are still the same and even better. Joel and I both said many times over you are a breath of fresh air and we treasure your friendship. Hope to see you sometime this year. Have a great day! Love, Nancy

Joeland Nancy Denney

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From Bill and Nancy Graham

We got the ladies of the 547th Engineer Battalion together for some fun by having a Tacky Queen contest. We invited Bonnie down for the event, and - well - the pictures speak for themselves. Happy Birthday!!

We can not believe it has been 20 years since we were in Darmstadt. But above is the proof. We hope Bonnie has a great 60th birthday. We will be thinking about her.

Love

Bill and Nancy Graham

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From Brenda Howard

Dearest Bonnie,

Happy Birthday! What a delight it is to have you as a friend and extended family member! You have been a bundle of love, support, and enthusiasm in my life. Whenever I spend time with you, I walk away encouraged in my relationship with God and man. Thank you for including me in your circle of love. :-D

Enjoy your celebration! I thank God upon every remembrance of you. (Ph 1:3)

With love,

Brenda Howard

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From Richard and Ginger Hunley

How exciting! Those famous words spoken right before we signed up to take a class in cabbage patch doll making. We worked hard in making them look life like. The dolls head on mine must have weighed 5 lbs. And the hair was crocheted into curls. (Another 5 lbs.) Being a hair dresser myself, I loved a lot of curls. It was almost too much for Amanda to hold. But we were so proud of our dolls. Remember Bonnie? And yes, I still have that doll. Amanda doesn't have room for it in her closet.

And then there was the time we just had to take a calligraphy class. I must say that class has paid off.

And then another time when you said let's go horse back riding. How exciting...you said. So you got up a group and we made it a regular outing for the ladies who had the nerve to ride a barn yard horse. Each time a few more ladies would join in. Do you remember the time we rode much longer than usual and came upon some army men camping out in the woods? Must have been about 20 of us gals out there somewhere in the back forty. We may have been lost, but those horses somehow managed to get us back to the barn...........some faster than others.

Oh there are so many wonderful memories, Bonnie. Richard still enjoys the chicken sopa and the sopaipillas you taught me how to make. And another good one.....the Baked Chicken Kiev. I think of you every time I make them.

Happy Birthday, Bonnie. We love you very much. I know you will have a great time and it will be EXCITING.

Richard and Ginger

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From Tom and Cathy Johnson

It was a beautiful, crisp autumn day in Hanau, Germany. We were driving down the street of New Argonner, the American Kaserne, enjoying the changing colors of the leaves when something caught our eye.

There were a bunch of kids playing in a huge pile of leaves, having a ball. It was a reflective moment as we each thought back to our youth when this would have been exactly what we would be doing under these perfect circumstances. It was a game of rough-house at its best.

Suddenly all the kids seemed to separate around the pile when we noticed that the pile was still moving. I think both of us reacted in the same way at the same time. We were about to park the car and make sure there was not a child underneath who might have been hurt. In a flurry of some magnitude there was all at once a figure emanating from the pile. The kids yelled and ran for cover as a rather large kid did indeed make her presence known. Of course, anyone reading this would know who this “kid” was, none other than Bonnie Braden, the Queen of kids and all things good and sweet.

Happy Birthday to you who brings out the kid in all of us.

Tom and Cathy Johnson

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From Marilyn MacIver

I first met Bonnie when I was 37 years old and she must have been an ancient 40. I was trying to figure out in a military community how a commander’s wife is supposed to behave and be “a good role model.” I was looking for guidance in my new role – and there she was at a formal military ball with her wooden flappy footed duck named Hermie. Hermie was very “fresh” and ran around looking under the long dresses of the ladies when we least expected it. When she wasn’t playing with Hermie, she was doing the Chicken Dance! I was astounded, confused and delighted by Bonnie.

I got another burst of Bonnie enthusiasm when we were assigned nearby each other in Virginia when I was 47 and she was almost 50. She taught me to Roller Blade. We were invited to the Braden home on post for fireworks on some non-traditional celebration day. Any day is a good day for celebration with Bonnie! Somehow the entire tub of fireworks got set off all at once and many ended up in their neighbor’s boat.

Now I am 57 and she is turning 60. She is still my favorite life role model. She taught me not to take life too seriously, laugh, and have fun with it. She has also been a fine Christian woman role model of a compassionate, dedicated homemaker, mother, wife and community member...

Tom and I have often said over the years when we have had the courage to do something bold, off the wall, fun, out of our conservative, straight laced, comfort zone ... "Bonnie Braden would be proud!"

Tom and Marilyn MacIver

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From Katy McAllister

Happy B-Day so you are the BIG 60 Woopy you caught up with me!!!

I remember when you came to Hanau. And about You semi-dressing up like a cow to got to the COW meeting and the wives' reactions. I was impressed that you showed spark and fun. Do you remember the time we sat in the balcony of the chapel and whistled, hooted and hallowed. There was a teen rally with some singer and the teens seemed so disinterested so we wanted the singer or who ever it was that we that it was good and to encourage him. I remember when the teens turned around and looked at us. That was a fun time. It was two SisterChicks having a good time and enjoying the LORD and each other.

Life is too short not to enjoy what GOD has given us.

Do your remember the yard sale and when I sold the white rug? You were very gracious. I think you thought, at first, that I was kidding you but when you found out it really did happen. you didn't get mad. We were still good friends.

You have and still are an inspiration to me. Thank you for being you.

The picture that Jay sent says it all. That picture shows the inner you. Tender, loving and compassionate. What a Godly women.

From one 60 year old SisterChick to another,

Love Katy

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From Bette Meuleners

Mike and I hope you have a great celebration of Bonnie's upcoming birthday. It will be fun to hear all about it.

My two favorite memories of Bonnie are:

1. In the mid-80's at an Engineer conference in Bavaria, Germany, Bonnie took her 75 something mother down the Olympic bob-sled run. They both survived and had a great time.

2. I loved it when Bonnie told us how Robert, who could have gone to Florida State for free since Jay worked there, was graduating with a degree in engineering from out of state Georgia Tech, but was going to do "volunteer" work for Campus Crusade for Christ and he hoped for a generous donation from his parents to help support him for the year! Hopefully he's since been gainfully employed.

We loved seeing you all occasionally at GA Tech when our son was there also. We're going down next week for the GA Tech-Army game.

Happy Birthday to Bonnie! Bette and Mike

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From Paul Roberts

Congratulations to Bonnie on reaching the big 60. It sure looks young to me, the person who will hit the big 70 next January.

God Bless,

Paul Roberts

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From Sandra

A New Adventure Begins!

It was a beautiful August day as we hid little bottles around the Catamaran. A treasure hunt would be a perfect way to start this family adventure! Steve took a great deal of time coming up with ways to link one clue to another to find the ultimate treasure! As I watched my family search from clue to clue I new that this would be a day different than any other day. The last bottle was found –we saved it especially for my mom. She read the note with hesitation and as she looked at the X on my belly I saw two things in her eyes. Joy and Sadness-Now that I look at that day through the eyes of being a Mother myself, I know why I saw those two emotions Joy-I am going to be a grandmother! I get to hold a little baby again! And sadness-My little girl is no longer my little girl! Little did we know that my becoming a mother would be a pivotal point in our relationship-not only would I have a mother that loves me more than words can express, but I would also be embarking on a friendship that I am honored to have! Not many people can say that their mom is their best friend!

Love, Sandra

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More from Sandra

Proverbs 31 Woman!

31:15: "She gets up while it is still dark and provides food for her family" (or donuts for her grandchildren at Perry’s)
31:16 "She considers a field a buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard" (or takes you on life changing, memory making trips-gamble on lady! :)
31:17 "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks" (Who else can do 4 loads of laundry, clean your rugs and pressure wash your pool deck, and jump on the trampoline with their grandchildren)
31:18 "She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.> (Who else spends countless hours day trading?)
... and her lamp doesn’t go out" (... because she is up reading or faking reading so that she doesn’t seem like the overbearing parent when you come in at curfew time)
31:19 "In her hands she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers" (Embroidering, uniform mending, napkin making)
31:20 "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy" (Never a day goes by that I am not called and asked if she can do anything for me. She even watches my friends children if need be.)
31:22 "She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple" (She makes her grandchildren’s bedding and of course she is in purple!)
31:25 "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come" (Who doesn’t know my mother’s laugh!)
31:26 "She speaks with wisdom; and faithful instruction is on her tongue" (I am thankful for her prayer and Godly advice)
31:29 "Many woman do noble things, but you surpass them all!" (In so many ways!)

I will rise up and call you BLESSED! The truth be told I am the blessed one, Mom you are truly a Proverbs 31 Woman!

Happy Birthday!

Love, Sandra

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From Jim and Chris Rohleder

Reaching the BIG 60 is definitely a major milestone in your life.

The Rohleders congratulate and wish you a big Happy Birthday and long life. Wish we were there and hope you will enjoy your big day and note we will have a drink to celebrate your big day as well.

Bonnie is one loveable person and that is why you married her and have enjoyed your 38 or 39 years together. I remember the day after your marriage when your parents presented the new car and Bonnie went ballistic (which is a norm for Bonnie) and was jumping up and down in the back seat.

Of course there were many more experiences similar to that when Bonnie went ballistic but Bonnie is Bonnie and I know she enjoys life and the family she has established with you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY --- BONNIE

Chris and Jim

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From Kim

There are so many memories of Bonnie, but the one the stands out in my mind is when I was around 4, and we lived on Fort Benjamin Harrison, in Indiana, everyday Bonnie would ride me to school in the basket of her bike, boy! that was years ago. Bonnie, you have always been a wonderful sister, and I am blessed to have you in my life. So many times you have lifted my spirits when things were not going well in my life. I thank you for being there for me through it all. Mom always called you her "Beautiful Bonnie" and how true those words are. Have a wonderful Birthday! You deserve the best.

I love you,

Kim

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From Barbara Wright

Bonnie:

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you! ;-)

We have shared sooo many "adventures" together but the ones that stand out most in my mind are the ones relating to the boys and our times of prayer and thanksgiving.

Do you remember how we met every week at your house during the 2000/2001 school year to pray for our sons, Robert and Charles Elliott, as they adjusted to their freshmen year at Georgia Tech? We prayed for everything from dorm assignments, to exams, to finances, to girlfriends and everything in between. And then in 2004 we saw the final answer to those prayers when the boys graduated with flying "yellow jacket" colors. What a glorious time we had on that graduation day!

Do you recall all the wonderful Thanksgiving Days our families celebrated together? I will always remember, treasure and appreciate the fact that you and the Braden clan were with us in Tallahassee for Charles' last Thanksgiving Day here on earth. We had such a good time.

To sum up our shared experiences I would have to say to you and Jay: "Thanks for being there for us through thick and thin." Bonnie, you and I have experienced the gambit of situations in our lives; but God has been with us every step along the way. I have learned from you that life is like a roller coaster, but I can have fun, relax and enjoy the ride (as long as I have my seatbelt fastened!) Smile!

Live it up the next 60 years!

Your friend and prayer partner,

Barbara W.

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