CHILLICOTHE--Avid gardener, inspired cook, music maker, mother of three, grandmother of four and step-grandmother of four with one step great-grandchild, Bonnie Ruth Gudat passed away on Saturday, March 24, 2018 at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. Bonnie was born on July 24, 1944 to parents Milton and Ellen Holmes Eastman. Shortly after his daughter's birth, Sargent Eastman was shipped to the Pacific and he didn't meet young Bonnie with her blond curls and bright blue eyes until World War II ended and she was a year old. Ten years later the family was delighted with the birth of Bonnie's little brother Bruce Eastman, now of Morton. Bonnie met her husband-to-be Adam Gudat at the University of Illinois. They married in Western Springs, Illinois, in 1966. Then they packed their wedding gifts and belongings into Bonnie's old station wagon and camped their way west, crossing the Rockies and settling into their new home in Los Angeles. The deserts and mountains of California became the weekend getaway for Adam and Bonnie and a band of Adam's fellow Hughes Aircraft engineers and spouses, who camped with little more than sleeping bags and tarps. A lifelong reader and lover of learning, Bonnie amassed an impressive array of degrees and certifications: Bachelor of Science, marine biology, teaching, cytology and occupational therapy, all capped by a Master's in Liberal Studies from Bradley University. During her working years in Los Angeles, Bonnie first taught junior high science in the Watts area. She then shifted to a cytology lab where she studied microscopic cancer cells and later found a calling caring for babies with medical needs and teaching a creative cooking class. In 1978, the couple moved back to Illinois and adopted three children-Patrick, Marilyne and Donald, all currently living in the Peoria area. Bonnie's work life included transporting children with medical needs to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, serving at a special needs school in Peoria, working in occupational therapy, painting elaborate designs on pumpkins at Tanner's Orchard and overseeing the greenhouses and plantings at Luthy Botanical Garden. Bonnie filled every nook and cranny of her life with service to her family and friends, to her community and her church. Her garden and her plants were her sanctuary, and she could work culinary miracles in her kitchen. Skilled in the vanishing craft of handwork, she created keepsakes for family and friends out of bits of material and embroidery floss. Before thrift and sustainable living were in vogue, Bonnie embraced that lifestyle, not out of necessity but by choice. Adept at reusing and repurposing, she shopped at garage sales and wasted neither food nor goods in her household. With her artist's eye, Bonnie expressed her love of life through the bright colors she wore and the vibrant flowers she planted in her gardens, both at home and on the grounds of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria. Every March, when her carefully tended orchids opened their blooms, she would display them in all their glory on her church's altar. In her house, plants spill from the attached greenhouse into every room and windowsill. With an affinity for water and the creatures that live there, Bonnie felt at home swimming and snorkeling in far flung oceans and seas during her global travels with Adam. In recent years, she continued to enjoy swimming and water exercise with a group of good friends at the River City Athletic Club. The fabric of Bonnie's life was woven with the good works she devoted to her family, to the Universalist Unitarian Church, and to the many organizations she was part of, including the Garden Club, the Herb Guild, the Accordion Club, the OLLI Recorder Ensemble and the German-American Society, all of Peoria. Friends and family are invited to a visitation for Bonnie on Friday, April 6 from 5 to 7 at Weber-Hurd Funeral Home in Chillicothe. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, April 7, 1 pm at the UU Church, 3000 W. Richwoods Blvd, Peoria. Memorial donations may be made to St. Jude's Children's Hospital or to the charity of your choice.
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