Karen Bonawitz, 77, of Benson

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Karen Bonawitz, 77, of Benson died Friday, October 4, 2013 at her daughter’s home in Apple Valley.  
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, October 9, 2013 (today) at St. Francis Catholic Church in Benson.  Visitation will be held one hour prior to the services at the church.  Burial will be at St. Bridget’s Catholic Cemetery in DeGraff.  Arrangements are with the Harvey Anderson Funeral Home in Willmar.
Frances Karen Bonawitz (Anderson) was born  August 24, 1936 in Benson, Minnesota, the daughter of Irvin B. and Eileen F. Anderson. Karen graduated valedictorian in 1954 from Benson High School, and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Minnesota in 1958.
Karen married Robert L. Bonawitz of Moorhead, Minnesota December 26, 1957. For the next 25 years, their family of six children resided in the state of Minnesota, briefly in the state of Virginia and most recently in Apple Valley, Minnesota.
Karen was a long-standing member of St. Frances Catholic Church in Benson, Minnesota. For many years, she was an active member of the church choir, she loved to sing and had a voice to match. Karen took immense pleasure in classical music, MPR, NPR and the BBC. She attended many Minnesota Valley Community concerts. During her parents later years, Karen lived and cared for them in the family home in Benson.
Karen’s love of nature and the environment expressed itself in the numerous charities she supported, decades of flower and vegetable gardening, bird watching and protection of Minnesota native wildflowers and prairie grasses. Her “whistle” was a call to chickadees, which would alight on her hand to nibble sunflower seeds on the deck of her cottage at Lake Minnewaska. Unknown to many, Karen wrote poetry and sonnets filling multiple notebooks with observations of the local flora, fauna and weather. She loved to read, surrounding herself with books on many subjects especially those on nature. Karen enjoyed travel; in 1987 she and her son Bob went to England and visited sights in Scotland, Wales, the English lakes and the mysterious south west. She found the people and scenery so wonderful she went back the next year on a solo visit of England’s rural countryside. In the following years, Karen traveled the U.S. with visits to the southwest and a “favorite” trip with her son Luke to beautiful Hawaii.
Karen will always be a vision to us of kindness, support and sparkling blue eyes with her hair pulled back with a blue bandanna.
Karen is survived by daughters: Jana Marie Bonawitz-Conlin (Thomas), Lisa Anne Sass, Sara Kaye Engel (Joel); sons: Robert Allan Hodges-Bonawitz (Cindy), John Anthony Bonawitz, Luke David Bonawitz (Katie); her brother David Anderson (Gretchen), three granddaughters, three grandsons, one great granddaughter, a niece and a nephew.
Karen was preceded in death by her son Allan Joseph Bonawitz and her parents Irvin and Eileen Anderson.

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