This is the story of a generous woman, bright lights and her legacy.
Betty Bonnington (née Rogers) was born in rural Saskatchewan in 1927. She moved to Toronto in 1952 to live near her future husband, Ken Bonnington. Soon afterward, Betty and Ken married and in 1957 moved to West Vancouver, British Columbia.
Ken’s job in international collections created a comfortable lifestyle for the couple. Sadly, Ken passed away in 2002.
Ken and Betty, who had no children of their own, shared an interesting life with extended family that included a brother, sister, three nieces, five nephews, and many friends. In her will, Betty left 32 gifts for family and friends and four gifts for charities, including The Salvation Army. Betty had a heart for The Army, in part because her brother, Tom, and his wife were members of The Salvation Army Church and kept Betty informed on social services of The Salvation Army provided to help marginalized people in her community.
When Betty died in 2013, her gift to The Salvation Army was divided into three separate gifts. The first one was an undesignated gift applied to The Salvation Army’s programs where the need was greatest. The second gift was designated to The Salvation Army’s programs on BC’s Sunshine Coast to help purchase a new building.
With the encouragement of her executor, the third allocation of Betty’s estate gift was used to replace two dilapidated outdoor signs at The Salvation Army in North Vancouver. Today the new illuminated signs shine brightly on the busy corner of The Army’s facility at Lonsdale Avenue and 12th Street. Passers-by are popping into the centre for the first time to seek assistance with mental health challenges, food programs, and addiction treatment referrals. Some local residents have entered to volunteer to help. Others have inquired about the Sunday Church service.
When she planned her estate eight years ago, could Betty have foreseen the remarkable legacy she would leave? Today, she must be looking down, beaming with pride.