Bonniejean Powell (1941-2024)
A person full of life, love, and faith, who always desired to be a friend to everyone. Bonniejean Powell, 82, a longtime resident of Idaho Falls, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on January 30 of natural causes. She was born in Grace, ID, in 1941 to Merle and Vaunda Kirkham. The first few years of Bonniejean’s life were spent in Portland while her dad worked as a welder on the battleships during World War II. When she was 4 years old, her family moved to Idaho Falls, which is where she resided for the rest of her life. Her favorite childhood memories came from traveling to Utah every Christmas and Labor Day weekend to spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. She was also very close to many of the families in her neighborhood. Bonniejean loved animals and had many pets as a child. Her pets included the family pigs, various cats, a racoon, and even a skunk. Bonniejean graduated from Idaho Falls High School in 1959 and then attended Vogue Beauty School where she became a cosmetologist, a skill that allowed her to give haircuts and perms to many family members and friends over the years. She made a special effort to do hair for those who were home bound. She spent most of her twenties working at The Paris Café and Bonneville Hotel in downtown Idaho Falls. She unexpectedly lost both of her parents, 1 year apart, in 1969 and 1970. Bonniejean met Robert “Bob” George, a local farmer, while working at The Paris. They were both outgoing and friendly. After dating for a time, Bonniejean and Bob were married on June 20, 1970. She left her life in town and moved to the country where she became a homemaker and farmer’s wife. They couldn’t wait to start a family of their own. Bonniejean had always dreamed of being a mother with a large family, but starting their family did not come as easily as they had hoped. After losing one premature infant, they were able to adopt their first daughter, Heidi. Then after another loss, Bonniejean was able to deliver a son, Merle, and another daughter, April. She was content to have a smaller family and always said we kept her plenty busy. She supported her children in school and any extracurricular activities, never missing a chance to watch and support them. One favorite memory is how Bonniejean always made her children’s birthday parties a big event. Everything from hayrides to swimming parties to having a magician perform. She went all out. Even though some years were tight financially, her family never felt like they were lacking thanks to her efforts. She provided a home where strong family values and a foundation of faith could be taught. Bonniejean and Bob had many happy years together farming and raising their family, but their time was cut short when Bob passed away in 1987 after struggling with a debilitating lung disease. Bonniejean became mom and dad for their three children who were all still at home. She had to take on a lot of responsibility, but with the help of wonderful ward members, friends, and neighbors, she was able to move forward even though it wasn’t easy. After 9 years of being a single parent, Bonniejean was introduced to Charles Powell through a mutual friend. Charles was kind and friendly. They were just what the other needed. They were married in July of 1996. They were able to spend 22 lovely years together before Charles left this life after a stroke.
Though Bonniejean loved being a wife and mother, her favorite role was that of a grandma! She loved having her grandchildren so close and treasured the time she spent with them. They all loved it when she would take them to McDonald’s or to the park. Grandma always made a great effort to support her grandchildren by attending all their sporting events and musical or theater performances over a span of many years.
Bonniejean was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She served in various callings with the youth and primary children. Her favorite calling was that of bulletin specialist. She loved making detailed bulletins each week and held the calling for 20 years. Doing service for others in the Idaho Falls temple was a high priority in her life and brought her great joy. She was also very devoted to serving the Relief Society sisters she ministered to. She developed many wonderful and lasting friendships through her church activity. Bonniejean did not like speaking in public or in front of a group of people. She thrived in smaller settings or 1 on 1 where she could be more personable and get to know others more easily.
Bonniejean joined the Grange Association when she married Bob and was a member for over 50 years. When Heidi was 18 months old, she started attending water aerobics classes at “The Spa” which not only provided healthy activity, but also provided a social circle where she met many of her nearest and dearest friends. She continued attending water aerobics faithfully for the next 50 years. She was also a member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.
Everyone who knew Bonniejean knew how much she loved the fourth of July and the annual fireworks display in Idaho Falls. It was one of her favorite holidays. She went to great lengths to secure “the perfect spot” to watch the fireworks every year and loved saving spots for others.
Bonniejean was a very talented cook and seamstress. She enjoyed good food and good company. Bonniejean always closely followed the news and politics. There were always fun topics to bring up and discuss with her. Merle always loved to see how fired up he could get her about current politics. She read the Post Register faithfully and enjoyed doing crossword puzzles and collecting cookbooks.
Bonniejean will always be remembered for her kindness and the way she always made others feel like they mattered. She loved to laugh. We’ll always imagine hearing her say, “What in the Sam hill?” or “Oh what’s his name!” one more time. We couldn’t have asked for a better mom or grandma, and we will miss her everyday. Her memory will live on in the hearts of all those who love her. We know she is already busy on the other side, and we will see her again.
Bonniejean was preceded in death by her parents, Merle and Vaunda Kirkham, a sister Carol Sue Kirkham, her first husband, Robert George, two daughters, Nicole and Holly George, and her second husband, Charles Powell.
She is survived by her brother, DuWayne Kirkham, her children, Heidi (David) Pyrah, Merle (Bethany) George, and April (Bryan) Cole, along with her 7 grandchildren, Michael Pyrah, Laura (Chandler) Roylance, Jesse Pyrah, Amber Pyrah, Kiera George, and Robyn Cole.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 A.M. Monday, February 5, 2024 at the Ivy Wood Ward Chapel, 1291 West 65th South. The family will receive friends Sunday evening from 6:00 till 7:30 P.M at Nalder Funeral Home, 110 West Oak Street, in Shelley and Monday from 10:00 till 1:45 A.M. at the church. Burial will be in the Rose Hill Cemetery.
Her family would like to give a special thank you to Lily & Syringa Assisted Living Center and BRiO Home Health & Hospice for their wonderful and compassionate care over the last 2 months.
Those who would like to participate in the funeral service remotely are invited to view the service on a live broadcast at