Bonnie-Jean Mae Vaher, after a lengthy illness, passed away Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, at the Bethany Riverside Lutheran Home in La Crosse. She was 87.
Bonnie was born in Taylors Falls, Minn., March 19, 1932. She was the daughter of William (Anderson) Schmidt and Minnie (Ekdahl) Schmidt. Her blond hair and blue eyes reflected her 100% Swedish heritage. Sadly, her father died of tuberculosis when she was only two years old.
Bonnie was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith and maintained a strong relationship with our Lord throughout her life. During her childhood, she attended the Taylors Falls Public School, sang in her school and church choirs, took piano lessons, belonged to the local 4-H club and especially enjoyed riding horses on a friend's farm. As a teenager, she moved to a foster home in Minneapolis. She attended Roosevelt High School and belonged to the Christian Fellowship Club. She also participated in classes at a nearby Y.W.C.A. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1950.
Also in Minneapolis 1950, Bonnie married Holger Vaher, a displaced person from Estonia. They moved to La Crosse and their daughter, Linda Sue, was born in 1951. Bonnie first worked part-time in a Selective Service office and then full-time at Trane Company. Bonnie, Holger and Linda moved to Burbank, Calif., in 1956, but in 1959, they returned to La Crosse, where Bonnie returned to full-time work at Trane Company.
In 1962, Bonnie enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and from 1964 to 1967, she worked part-time for the La Crosse Public Library. Bonnie and Holger's son, Ulo Holger, was born in 1966. Bonnie worked one year full-time as the University mail room supervisor, before returning to part-time student status and a part-time job as a University secretary. She received a B.S. degree in letters and science in 1971 and a master's degree in student personnel services in 1976.
In 1978, Bonnie, Holger and Ulo, moved to a hobby farm near Rockland, where Bonnie enjoyed her interests in hiking, gardening, wild flowers and horses. Bonnie also worked 14 years at Northern Engraving, in Sparta. Soon after Holger's passing in 2017, Bonnie sold the hobby farm and moved to an apartment in Sparta. She became a resident of Bethany Riverside early in 2019.
Bonnie was preceded in death by her parents; husband; and a grandson, Richard Clark. She is survived by her daughter, Linda Clark, of La Crosse; and her son and daughter-in-law, Ulo and Susan Vaher, of Blanchester, Ohio; as well as grandsons, Benjamin and Jonathan Clark; and granddaughters, Eleanor and Cathrine Vaher. She also is survived by her half-brother, Jack Liljenberg, of Taylors Falls.
A funeral service for Bonnie is being held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Onalaska. Pastor William Bader and Pastor Roger Sachs will officiate. Burial will be in the Onalaska City Cemetery. Friends may call from noon until the time of services Tuesday at the church.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society or Luther High School, Onalaska.
The Schumacher-Kish Funeral & Cremation Services of La Crosse are in charge of arrangements. Online guestbook is available at www.schumacher-kish.com.