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Women of Faith Award winner Evelyn Bonner dies

Champion of minority education succumbs to cancer at 69

July 9, 2009

Evelyn Bonner

Evelyn Bonner —Joe Williams

Louisville

Evelyn Bonner, whose many years of commitment to minority education took her to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) racial ethnic schools from Mississippi to Alaska and earned her a Woman of Faith Award from the denomination, died July 4 in Marshall, TX. She was 69 and had been battling cancer.

Bonner — a graduate of Presbyterian mission schools, Mary Holmes College in West Point, MS, and Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC — made a life teaching and serving the Presbyterian church at the local, presbytery and national levels. She was an advocate for justice throughout her years of service, including participating in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

She received the PC(USA)’s Women of Faith Award in 2006.

Trained as a librarian, Bonner worked in that capacity for 33 years and then offered her services to three PC(USA) racial ethnic schools pretty much as a volunteer — Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, AK; Mary Holmes College; and Barber-Scotia College in Concord, NC. At the time of her death, she was doing yet another librarian stint as director of the library at Wiley College in Marshall, TX.

Bonner was constantly involved in community activities. In Wiley, she headed  up the Big Read program, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts which aims to encourage reading and seeks to address the declining rates of literacy in local communities.

Evelyn Bonner is survived by her husband of 46 years, David, and her daughter Davita. A memorial service will be held July 11 in the Julius Scott Chapel at Wiley College.

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