Bonita Lee Wiswell Gartland was born on June 21, 1944. She passed on September 13, 2023. She was married to her sweetheart, Russell Gartland, for 59 years. They had four children: John, Patrick, Holly, and Heather. She was a grandma to nine grandchildren: Patrick’s daughter, Taylor; Holly’s children, Hannah and Ben; John’s daughters, Nicole and Rachel; and Heather’s children, Elijah, Noah, Grace, and Lily. For the kids in her neighborhood in Holiday and for all of her children’s friends, she became a second mom. She was adored by her younger sister, Linda. She had friends everywhere who she loved beyond measure – like Niki and Marguerite — and could befriend strangers on a trip to the grocery store. She could talk to anyone, anywhere. She welcomed everyone with a kind and gracious heart. She saw the good in every person. In return, people were drawn to the good in her.
With her children, she traveled the country and world. Though frustrated as children that she dragged them to every attraction and every show despite how tired they were or how much their feet hurt, as adults, they brought her to many parts of the country and to Europe. They moaned and groaned as children (and some as adults) at how she always wanted to take a million pictures; as adults, they treasure those pictures and memories.
She loved the changing of the seasons. They remind us that everything changes, nothing is permanent. She loved the fall most. However, she also loved Christmas time at Disney. Even as her grandchildren grew too old to believe that Santa was real, she loved to visit him at Disney. Santa was real, she wouldn’t hear otherwise and so the grandchildren never would have suggested different. She loved the lights and decorations and the meaning of the season.
In her home, her children are discovering a million little treasures: notes containing words of faith and hope when they are filled with despair over their loss. They find angels in every nook and cranny. It is as though she is giving them her final gifts and little reminders of her continued presence in their lives.
Some might say she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. In reality, she won. With her passing, she is at peace and reunited with so many she loved – her parents, a brother, a niece, a dear friend, and so many others. She was deeply spiritual and she is no doubt in Heaven and understands everything finally. She is dancing with the angels. We will carry her in our hearts here on Earth until we are reunited in Heaven.
A celebration in honor of her life will be held on Saturday, September 23rd. We look forward to sharing stories with those who loved her as we did. Please contact one of her children to RSVP.