Bonnie Lee Bell Griffin, age 93, a 65-year resident of Oak Ridge, passed away of natural causes, Friday, January 30. She had been living with her youngest son, Ed Griffin and his wife Roberta Crowe in Huntsville, Alabama, for the past four years until recent medical issues required a move to Bailey Manor in Fayetteville, Tennessee.
Bonnie was born December 18, 1921, in Sandoval, Illinois, to John Bell of Haverigg, England, and Rilla Mae McVeigh of Clay County, Illinois. She was the youngest of five children; her brother John Harold, and sisters Alice Margret, Gertrude Mae, and Mary Oleta all preceded her in death.
Bonnie left her parents home in Flora, Illinois, to attend McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, in 1941, where she earned a teaching certificate and met her future husband, Paul M. Griffin. She had a diversity of interests in college including the Literary Society, the Theater Group, The Women’s Athletic Group, and the Women’s Basketball team. In her sophomore year, Bonnie was elected the football homecoming queen.
Bonnie taught primary school in Xenia, Illinois, for a year while Paul completed his bachelor’s degree at McKendree College. They were married in July of 1943. She again taught primary school in Muncie, Indiana, while Paul taught at Ball State Teachers College and completed his master’s degree. Bonnie and Paul also had their first child, David, while living in Muncie.
In 1946, Bonnie, Paul and David moved to Oak Ridge. Three more children were born: Gwen Sue, Mary Alice, and Ed. All four children were raised in Oak Ridge and graduated from Oak Ridge High School.
Bonnie and Paul were active in many Oak Ridge social and volunteer activities. They took ballroom dancing lessons at Ethel Howell Dance Studios and belonged to two dance clubs, YAGO (Young Adults Growing Old), and the Latin Dance Club. They played bridge with a group that met once a month for more than 35 years.
Bonnie always had a great love of children and as her own children grew up she returned to work part-time as a teacher at the Oak Ridge Nursery School. She worked there until Paul retired from ORNL.
After retirement, Bonnie and Paul took an interest in genealogy. Bonnie was very proud of her English ancestry and took two trips to England, meeting relatives from her father’s family and seeing Bell Clan history up close. She and her sister Margret also shared an interest in the readings of Edgar Casey and in practicing yoga.
Bonnie was very generous with her time, and energy. Besides taking care of a household with four children, she volunteered as a Cub Scout leader, a Girl Scout leader, and a member of the Girl Scouts Camp Friendship Counsel.
As a member of the Kern Methodist Church, Bonnie was active in the United Methodist Women’s Circle as a member and in leadership positions. She could be found driving for Meals on Wheels and volunteering her time working for the ecumenical organization FISH. She and Paul worked together at the Brushy Mountain State Prison with the 7th Step Program.
Bonnie was preceded in death by her husband Paul M. Griffin who passed away in 1993.
She is survived by her four children; John David Griffin (Sue Bergman) of Tucson, Arizona; Gwen Sue Grimke (Stephen Weber) of Livermore, California; Mary Alice Lugo (Greg Lugo) of Los Osos, California; and Edward Paul Griffin (Roberta Crowe) of Lacey Spring, Alabama. Bonnie was also blessed with five grandchildren; Stephanie Griffin of Oakland, California; Doug Griffin of Mill Valley, California; Sarah Taylor of Lee Vining, California; Amanda VanErp of Vlierzele, Belgium; and Matthew Griffin of Seattle, Washington; and 10 great-grandchildren.
The family received friends on Saturday, February 7, from 12 to 1 p.m. at Weatherford Mortuary. The funeral began at 1 p.m. with Rev. Don Morris officiating. A graveside service followed at Oak Ridge Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kern Memorial United Methodist Church, 451 E. Tennessee Avenue, Oak Ridge, TN, or the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter, 395 Belgrade Road, Oak Ridge, TN 37830.
An online guest book can be signed at www.weatherfordmortuary.com.