Bonita “Bonnie” Mae Guss Parham, of Van Buren, AR passed away peacefully on Monday, November 9, 2015 while surrounded by surviving children and grandchildren. Bonnie was born in 1927 in New Blaine, AR. She was the daughter of Frederick A. and Ina Jane “Jenny” Guss.
Bonnie was raised in a small country home with a view of Huckleberry Mountain in what is now the Ozark National Forest. She and her siblings, Juanita Irene, Francis E., Martha Marie and Doris Ruth, attended a local one-room school in New Blaine which still survives as a commercial business. She had a hard but fulfilling childhood, helping her family survive through the depression years with whatever opportunities came along in the Ozark hills, including traveling to the fields of eastern Arkansas as an itinerant cotton picker.
Bonnie met her husband, Luther Anthony while working in Paris, AR during the years of World War II. They married just as Luther was called to the war in Europe. Bonnie did her part for the war effort working in a rocket powder factory in Sunflower, KS. After the war, they raised twelve children and ran numerous small road-side businesses in the eastern Arkansas and western Oklahoma region. The Parham clan became a fixture in Poteau for nearly three decades as they expanded a small road-side fruit stand into a larger business including greenhouses where bedding plants (tomatoes, peppers, flowers, etc.) were grown. Their annual photo calendars of the "Twelve Good Reasons Why We Appreciate Your Business" were widely distributed and frequently displayed with pride by customers to the long series of Parham boys delivering the local newspaper and by so many of the wonderful small town people who knew the family so well.
Bonnie and Luther later settled in Pocola, OK where they lived for most of their last three decades enjoying their garden and visits from members of the large extended family they had created.
Bonnie was an inspiration to all due to her belief in looking for the best in people and because of her insistence that nearly any problem can be solved by hard work and determination. With half of her children still at home and while still running the family fruit stand, she obtained her high school diploma, Licensed Practical Nursing degree and subsequently her RN degree. She worked for many years as a nurse at Sparks Memorial Hospital in Fort Smith, AR. Bonnie was preceded in death by her parents, her four siblings, her husband Luther and by four of her sons.
Bonnie is survived by her four daughters, four of her eight sons and by nearly uncountable grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
All are welcome to join a celebration of Bonnie's life at Evans Miller Funeral Home in Poteau, OK on November 21, 2015 at 2pm. Bonnie will be interred in the Oakland Cemetery in Poteau.