A collection of thoughts concerning Douglas Keith Bonham (3/31/1985 – 3/4/2016):
While the big news story is how Doug died, his family is collecting thoughts and memories from those who knew him to show how Doug lived.
For Doug, send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, include any photos you’d like attached.*
We all loved Doug very much. He is going to be greatly missed.
A service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Dayspring Fellowship in Keizer, Ore. The public is welcomed.
Doug has one last lesson for all of us … about “Balloon Death Syndrome”:
And a few of his own words of wisdom:
Doug left lessons for us all. He was an inspiration to me in all things, and it’s only now that I wish I had given him more credit for all he did.
Cherish what you love. Never take it for granted.
A Go Fund Me page for Doug’s family can be found by clicking the link.
3/5/2016 2:43 p.m.
Doug changed my life. Had it not been for his encouragement, Stacie and I wouldn’t have gone back to school. All through the process of earning our degrees, Doug was our cheerleader.
He supported us with his words and even helped us out with our finances. Doug was committed to our success just as much as we were. I think in a way, Doug felt responsible for us. He wanted us to complete our schooling, get good jobs and start living the good life because Doug loved taking credit for things –– he loved being right. He loved it to a fault. And that’s just one part of what made him a great person.
Doug was also big on family. He loved Megan, he loved Ayden, and he loved McKayla. He loved his sisters, Stacie and Michelle, and he loved his dad, Mark.
After moving Mark to Portland, Doug was torn. Here was a man Doug hardly knew growing up, but he knew Mark was his dad. Mustering courage I can’t even comprehend, Doug began spending a great deal of time with Mark over the past two years. Long phone calls and frequent visits to go bowling, see a basketball game, or just eat a meal punctuated a long lost Father-Son relationship that Doug made it a priority to reinvigorate. Doug loved his dad. And he made sure Mark knew that.
Doug was good to a lot of people. As a 5th and 6th grade teacher at Bethany Charter School, Doug affected the lives of countless kids, parents, and colleagues.
His personality was infectious. His humor was sharp, witty, and sometimes scathing. But he was equally generous and kind.
Doug put in a lot of years at Bethany. And though there were some rough patches with the institution, his commitment to his students was unwavering. This was reflected in his commitment to Matthew Albrecht, his passenger during the accident.
Doug had been mentoring Matthew for years. And the evening of the accident was just another night for them –– playing basketball and chatting about things only they will ever know. The loss of both men will be felt for a long time.
Doug was one of my best friends. He was kind to me when no one else in Stacie’s family was quite ready to accept me as the new guy. Without question, he helped me move my family nine times in seven years –– and I still owe him for two of those moves. He told me he loved me, and he called me brother. Doug was one of the greatest people I’ve ever known.
In his own words, he was Switzerland. Despite sporadic family strife between all the rest of us, he did his best to never talk bad about anybody. Even when it was just him and me, and he’d get to talking about something or somebody that upset him, he’d stop and take a deep breath, apologize to the air and say, “I should do better.” I don’t know anybody else that does that. But it’s certainly a way to strive to be. And for the past several hours, while we all deal with The Bonhams’ neighbor (who today threatened to sue Megan if visitors parked in the driveway), that’s all I keep thinking: What would Doug do?
Speaking of, his faith was unshakable. Doug loved God –– and he never let me forget it. I think it was one of Doug’s favorite things, to have religious debates with me. I mean, he loved debating with everybody. And it could be a debate about anything. Even something he knew nothing about. Doug was good at just faking it –– saying words in such a way that made it sound like he knew what he was talking about. And even though it sometimes didn’t make sense, he’d still win the argument. I have no idea how he did that.
I’m going to miss Doug like I’ve never missed anyone before. His loss is one I’ll feel for the rest of my life, but I know my life is better for having known him. –– Travis Loose, Doug’s Brother-in-Law
How Lucky I was to have a Man Named Douglas Bonham in my Life
3/5/2016 5:11 p.m.
When one thinks of Doug, they think of kindness.
I have never met someone more passionate about life itself than Doug. He was not only a man, but a man of honor that anyone would be lucky to have in their life. His concerns were always about others, and he always made sure everyone was well taken care of and happy before he would rest for the day.
Doug did not change the world with his presence, but he did leave a dent. And that presence is something I will need to learn to miss. He was one of the most important people in my life, and going on without him will be extremely difficult. There will not be a day that passes that I won’t think of my beloved uncle, and everything he did for me.
When it came to “talking deep,” Doug was always the best person for that. He would listen, interpret, and care, all while wittily adding his input as well. As his nephew, there was never a point that I thought Doug was a burden to the conversation. He was an asset who shared his diverse knowledge, but with a pinch of arrogance. He made you laugh, cry, and wonder in the same conversation –– something not many people can do.
As plain as it is, I will miss talking with Doug the most. I will miss hearing his laugh, getting those life tips, and sharing a mental connection. Doug was a beautiful person in and out, and never once did he bear any real malicious intent. He was harmless, and wouldn’t dare hurt anyone, unless you were going down the freeway with him playing “slug-bug.” Which in itself stirs fond memories and tears because that is another one of those things I will miss most.
The connection between Doug and I –– it was special, and something I will never have with anyone else. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone anymore. He made me feel like there are other kids like me. Growing up, I was told I was a lot like Doug when he was younger. He once looked at me, and said, “Maison, I see myself in you, you’re a lot like me when I was a kid.” It made me smile, because I wanted to be just like him when I grow up.
Doug was my inspiration to become who I am today, and I am so thankful that he was in my life for that short time. I just wish it could have been longer. He didn’t need to go –– Doug of all people. If anyone should be on this planet, it should be Doug. He promised he was going to make things right, and he had the mindset to achieve that goal.
Going forward, I feel it is my job to make sure all of Doug’s goals and challenges are achieved. I won’t be “able to make things right” but I will be able to continue and cherish his legacy. I feel that it is my job as Doug’s “little protégé” to complete the work he won’t. I can’t let his dreams leave with him. I won’t let that happen, and I will make sure they are sealed. I will make sure I get my education, finish that book for him, and get the most amount of success I can out of life –– for Doug.
If there is a heaven, Doug is in it –– and I hope watching over me because going on with life without Doug is impossible. So much in fact, I stole an old golf ball of his just to hold because it reminds me of the feeling I used to get when he entered the room.
One thing we can all learn from Doug leaving our lives is that sometimes we take our loved ones for granted. Now that he is gone, I wish I had responded to that text he sent me a couple weeks ago, or maybe followed up on that golfing trip we talked about. It is true what they say: You never know how much you love something until you lose it.
Perhaps one day, things will return to normal. Perhaps not. But one thing I can say, he will be dearly missed not only by the community, but his family. Please make sure you always drive with the utmost caution, because every time you put that key into the ignition, you’re taking a gamble on your life. –– Maison Bell, Doug’s nephew
The beauty of my friendship with Douglas…
3/6/2016 5:26 a.m.
What words can I ever say that will give justice to –– or express the gratitude I have for –– being blessed with the friendship of Douglas Bonham. Bonham wasn’t just my friend or my best friend, which we recognized on a daily basis, he was the brother that I never got from birth.
In the short time that I was honored to have been able to get to know Douglas, I have forever been changed by his presence and acceptance of not only who I am, but who he saw me as. Through his eyes, he saw the best in me –– he saw who I could be with determination and drive. He encouraged me to pursue this life with fight and passion.
Douglas always saw the best in every person that was around him, eager to seek and find the attributes about ourselves that we often don’t give credit, or even know we have. He sought out the weak and the poor in spirit and was on a mission to touch those who needed to be loved, motivated, and inspired. Douglas walked a path that many of us avoided; he truly took the road less travel, and rose above the challenges of this life with grace and humility. I will forever miss my best friend, the one who saw what my future could be if I just believed in me.
My best friend was a man who loved with all of his heart and was a giver of many things to many people. He was a husband to his wife Megan, a father to his son Ayden and daughter McKayla, a brother, a son, and an uncle, but in my eyes he was a “one of a kind, fully vested teacher” that believed in every single student that he taught.
Bonham had a fierce love for the Lord and was eager to share his knowledge and wisdom with whomever he came into contact. His vibrant, infectious sprit was hard to contain in this earthly body, always overflowing, touching each and every person that he came in contact with –– and oh, how he changed who I am today and who I will be forever.
I will forever cherish in my heart all the times that Douglas and I would joke and laugh at school with each other and with our students. From simply passing each other in the hall and giving each other that look of, “For real, we got this!” –– our silent message to each other to keep our heads afloat through our crazy day to the times outside of school when our families would attend church services together, play together and grow together. I keep close to my heart the last time Douglas was at my house.
I have these smile creating memories of Douglas and my husband having a “heated political debate” at my kitchen table. As these two intelligent men battled their opinions on political leaders, theories, and beliefs, I just listened and watched as the dynamic of their friendship developed and grew right before my eyes.
I will miss the times when Douglas and I would just talk –– talk about God, talk about school, talk about how he saw the ability in me to achieve more than what I had been settling for. Douglas was my biggest advocate, bringing light to the skills and abilities that I had yet to discover about myself. He encouraged me to go back to school and earn my degree in teaching, while mentoring and encouraging me every inch of the way. From a text that would say, “Woot Woot” when I told him about passing a challenging math course to simply reassuring me that in time all of my hard work will pay off. My best friend never skipped a beat when it came to supporting me, my family and my dreams.
As I start this new unexpected journey without my best friend by my side, I find peace and solace in remembering the magic that was “Bonham.” He set the standards high for what his friendship meant and always delivered more then what he promised. His legacy will be seen in the community that he lived in, taught in, and coached in, planting roots farther then he would have ever expected. For those who had the opportunity to have Douglas shine upon them, cherish those moments, for now is our time to honor Bonham through each and every word and action, each and every day. –– Kori Bolf, Doug’s close friend and instructional aid for his grades 5 and 6 classes at Bethany Charter School in Silverton, Ore.
3/6/2016 8:48 a.m.
Never was there an 8-year-old so enthralled to have a new baby in the house as I was when Dougie was born. I would watch him sleeping in his carrier and pinch his leg to make him cry just so I could have an excuse to pick him up and comfort him.
As the years passed, the eight-year gap made our relationship different than the one I had with our sister, who is only three years younger than me. As adults, Doug and I talked about how I was always gone, busy with my life. It wasn’t until we were adults that we grew the closest. My dear sweet baby brother was now the one I looked up to.
When I lost my job in 2009, it was my brother who convinced me I could go back to school and get a degree. I insisted I was not smart enough, but he would hear nothing of it. I gave him every excuse for why I couldn’t and he gave me every reason why I could. If you knew Doug, you also knew he would stand fast in his position. Every debate was like fighting a General taking a last stand: You best come prepared.
I can still hear his cheers as I walked across the stage, this past June, accepting my Bachelor’s Degree with honors from Western Oregon University. I had wanted to quit so many times, but the thought of letting my brother down –– and even just saying in his presence the words, “I quit,” was not something I could bear. At times, it was the only thing that kept me going. If I had only known what was to come –– that I would have to do life without him.
My brother always told me I was the fighter. The one who you don’t back into the corner. He took pride as “the laid back one,” referring to himself as Switzerland when it came to family disagreements. I admired his peaceful soul and always sought insight for ways to always come out swinging. He was this family’s rock. He was the one that brought us all together.
If there is one thing I want people to know, it’s that his almost sickening friendliness was genuine. He was the same man to strangers as he was to those closest to him. He never spoke bad about people, even when he was dealing with a difficult personality. He always just wanted to figure them out.
Many people don’t know that his next door neighbor was awful to him. He stopped me from having words with that woman so many times. He only wanted to be kind. They have a shared driveway that is considered her property, with my brother’s side declared as access only –– a fire lane. For years my brother lived in this house using the driveway like a normal family would, until she moved in. She made his wife’s frail great grandparents park across the busy street instead of close to the front door. Doug just wanted to keep the peace and he did his very best to ensure he did not upset her.
Yesterday, I knocked on her door and told her my brother had passed, and that people may be parking in the driveway as they come to pay their respects –– and tried to assure her that we would do our best to direct them. Her reply was that she would sue my sister-in-law if we didn’t.
My brother was good to his core. Irony would have it that he lived next to someone full of darkness. He said she kept him on his toes. It took all I had not to lose it on that woman, but I walked away. I could almost feel Doug’s hand covering my mouth. I did it for him; the fighter backed down for her little brother.
I don’t know how Doug managed all his commitments. I often begged him to cut back because I feared he would have a heart attack. I don’t know how he always took the high road. I often begged him to let me have at that woman. I don’t know how we’re going to live without him; this is the first time he has left us behind.
I would give anything to trade him places. No matter how hard I try, I will never be able to emulate the same profound effect he had on the people around him. The world lost something special that will never be replaced. I love and miss you, baby brother. –– Stacie Loose, Doug’s eldest sister
3/6/2016 9:25 a.m.
I remember those two years I was in his class clearly.
He made school fun, so I always wanted to go. Not only was he one of the best teachers in the school, he was one of the best people I’ll ever know. Bonham was so kind, and even if you insulted him he would laugh and wouldn’t let it get to him.
If he spikes you in the face with a volleyball (like he did so many times to me), he would feel so bad about and immediately take you to the office for an ice pack. In girls basketball, he would push us to the limits. He wanted us to win, but more importantly to be better teammates. He wanted us to be better people.
I’ll never forget his long beard (before he cut it off), always getting sweat in there and making his class cringe just by the sight of it!
Mr. Bonham and Matthew Albrecht will be missed dearly. Although I never knew Matthew, I know that he was a Bobcat. And what our principal always says, “Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat.” –– Libby Merklin, a former student of Doug’s
3/6/2016 8:50 a.m.
Douglas Bonham was truly the best teacher I’ve ever had. He wasn’t afraid to tell us about the real world, politics, or the dangers that are currently happening. He had a goal for each student in his class, and he would not give up until each of the goals were completed.
He made all of his school years the best school year you’ve ever had. Including funny voices, games, and even doing the most random things in the game, “The Distraction Game.” He wasn’t an ordinary teacher, and all his students were thankful for that.
At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, he asked his class, “Why are you here?” After he asked us this, we had a deep conversation on why he is teaching. He gave up a job that gave him loads of money to teach us. He was dedicated to his teaching, even if it did get rough at times.
He was also a fantastic basketball coach. He celebrated if we made the shot, he said, “Good try,” when we missed the shot, and he helped every player on his team. At the beginning, and last quarter of each game, he told us we could win. Even if we all knew we had no chance of winning, he told us we could.
I’m sending lots of love and prayers to Megan, Ayden, McKayla, and their whole family. This is a tragic loss that will be hard to handle. I know for a fact that all his classmates don’t want a new teacher, and want Mr. Bonham back.
Rest in piece Douglas Bonham. –– Jazmyn Lewis, a student of Doug’s at Bethany Charter School in fifth and sixth grade
3/6/2016 2:41 p.m.
I just wanted to say how wonderful Mr. Bonham was. He was one of the most caring, motivating, and kind teachers I’ve ever had in my life.
When I was younger and attending Bethany, I decided to try and play sports. If it wasn’t for him, there’s no way I would have kept going. From basketball games to all nighters at the school with our teams –– even to the outdoor education trips –– he had a huge impact on not only my life but so many others.
He gave me so many laughs and always made sure to keep me determined for better grades, and he helped me out when I was getting bullied, or if something wasn’t right. Man, he was pretty cool. Greatest teacher I’ve ever known. –– Alexandria Lucarelli, a former student of Doug’s
3/6/2016 2:50 p.m.
Bonham and Matthew were the very first people I met when I moved to Silverton five years ago. I remember going to Bethany’s summer camp with both of them.
Mr. Bonham made me want to play basketball my 7th and 8th grade years at Bethany. He made me want to strive to be the best defensive player I could be. He would always help us by doing all of our training with us instead of just watching. Whether it was playing a pick up game or running 17’s, Bonham was one of those people who would encourage you to do things by doing them with you.
He believed in all of us to do our best and obtain our full potential as students and players. Bonham even made agriculture class fun for me, which was a major accomplishment on his part. He was always looking for new and better ways to teach.
He was an inspiring man who shall always be remembered as a great teacher, coach, father, mentor, and outstanding community member. Although I hadn’t talked to him since I graduated, I always knew if I ever needed anything I could ask him.
Thank you for being such an outstanding and amazing person. You inspire us all and will continue to inspire us every day from now on. –– Natalie Muller, “former [Bethany Charter School] student, basketball player, and friend of Matthew.”
3/6/2016 6:48 p.m.
My three older boys all had Mr. Bonham as a teacher over the years. My oldest, Morgan, was in the same class as Matt [Albrecht] for a year, and they were friends. Although my oldest didn’t see much of Matt once they weren’t in the same schools, they never missed a beat in their goofy banter when they saw each other again.
Morgan, Jordan, and Hayden loved Mr. Bonham as a teacher. He was just what they needed in how he challenged them to do better, and he made learning fun through his wit and creativity. As life has challenges, my own kids had their stresses from our family’s divorce. Mr. Bonham saw this and seemed to put his wing –– his angel wing –– around them, and seemed to challenge them more in the gentle but firm sort of way only a father figure can do.
They really needed this extra support, and they responded exceptionally well because they not only admired [Doug], but knew in their hearts he respected them. I appreciated that and I know their dad does, too. He was an amazing role model for all my boys, and I am so proud that my kids were blessed with him as their teacher.
My son Hayden wants to write up something. He was pretty close with Mr. Bonham. Just last year and the previous year, Mr. Bonham was his teacher, basketball, and volleyball coach over several years; and more recently, [Doug] worked closely with Hayden in the student leadership club because Hayden is president. A few weeks ago, Mr. Bonham took Hayden and Ayden to the Kroc Center just for fun. [Doug] made time for the kids –– even with his busy schedule.
I will personally never forget him, his kindness, smile, genuineness, positivity, faith, and love of all the kids and his school. He has inspired me to do better and challenge myself through his example. I, like many others, am full of sorrow that he and Matt left this planet too soon. They had so much more to give, to influence, to inspire –– so much more life to live. Both Doug and Matt, were full of life and amazing energy! I imagine the two of them in the same room –– they were unstoppable!
It makes me cry when I think of their families, of the kids, the school, of the community’s loss –– of THEM being gone forever. But I feel some comfort in knowing that they both went up to heaven hand in hand, together. –– Kendra Bartelmez-Forster, mother to three of Doug’s former students
3/6/2015 around 7 p.m.
Doug was an amazing man. He loved kids, and every kid that knew felt loved by him. He would play outside at recess –– basketball, tag –– with the kids, and the kids loved his playful nature.
He was so giving of his time. I did “lock-ins” with him, where the volleyball or basketball team would sleepover with us at BCS. We would play hide and go seek with the kids, and he always had the best spot. No one will ever replace him.
His life will be remembered as a life of service –– service to students, family, and others. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for others. He once told me that he couldn’t believe his wife chose him, he was so proud of her. He will be missed.
He was a good man and served the Lord with his whole heart. God needed his faithful servant sooner than we wanted to let him go.
Luke 23:43 – And he said to him, “Truly I say unto you, today you shall be with me in paradise.” Psalm 73:26 – “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Isaiah 43:2 – “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
May God be with you, we are all here for you. –– Cynthia Blanco, Doug’s friend and former colleague
3/6/2016 7:58 p.m.
My memories of Douglas Bonham
My memories of Matthew A.
3/6/2016 7:55 p.m.
Mr. Bonham was and will always be one of my favorite teachers. He expected more from us than we ourselves did. He was stern with his teaching and sometimes graded harshly, which for some was too much –– but he had the best intent.
He wanted us to learn, do our best, and strive for better –– but he was also very fun. While most teachers sit back and relax or work while recess is going on, Mr. Bonham was always playing with his and other students –– always playing Basketball, Four Square, or other games.
Mr. Bonham was the heart of the fifth and sixth grade. Whenever there was a group of students, he was usually in the center. Fifth and Sixth graders are notoriously wild, but Bonham rode that wave. They were always the loudest and happiest and most fun of all the grades.
Everybody gravitated to Bonham, especially the students. It’s very hard to imagine the fifth and sixth grade without Bonham –– and the only thing that comes to mind is a depressing sight. He will be missed, and his stories will be passed down.
Matthew Albrecht was loud, fun, and harsh at times. He was a wild stallion –– hard to control and hard to get along with at times, but he was deeply cared for. I always had a blast with him at recess, and whenever I hung around him and liked that he was fairly blunt and generally didn’t sugar-coat his thoughts and/or feelings. But from what I’ve heard and seen, he was also a very caring and considerate person.
3/6/2016 8:25 p.m.
I am so grateful to have gotten to know Doug the little bit that I did at our family gathering. He has grown up to be quite a larger than life personality, and he spent time with me that day sharing who he is, who he has become, and the things he loves in his life.
His joy of family and love of his children were qualities I truly admired. I thought how wonderful a father he was and the gift of his love to those in his life, and how I was now one of those to feel his love. His children would be so much richer with his guidance, which amazed me considering the barren childhood he had.
I came away that day with such a wonderful impression of him, and all that he and his sisters had managed to overcome to become the passionate young adults they are. Their spirits are strong and Doug will be sorely missed by all of us. I grieve for Megan and his children.
It is such a tragedy that his love and energy has ended in this way. My time with him was too short, but at least I got to know him as an adult and experienced his passion and energy.
Prior to last fall, the last time I had seen him he was just two. It was incredible to meet him as a young man along with getting reacquainted with Stacie and Michelle. –– Lynn Parker, Doug’s aunt
3/6/2016 9:25 p.m.
My Story of Doug Bonham
3/7/2016 7:18 p.m.
Our family didn’t get as much time to know Mr. Bonham as we would have liked, but our boys –– Andrew and Joey (a 2nd & 1st grader at Bethany Charter, respectively) –– began referring to him as “Mr. Bomb Ham” before they understood the true pronunciation of his last name. He has remained Mr. Bomb Ham to their father and I ever since.
Despite our boys trying to correct us since they learned the correct pronunciation of his name, we decided it was appropriate –– having been blessed to encounter his humor and generous spirit briefly.
We quickly found out we attended the same church, which only showed us Mr. Bomb Ham was going to be great for our boys. We spoke privately more than once about how we were glad God put us in his path, and that we were excited that our kids would one day be in Mr. Bomb Ham’s class.
His smile was always at the ready, and it was genuine. You just felt a little better for the fact that his life force was around to exert good on those he encountered. We will miss him, are sad we didn’t get the opportunity to know him better, and will remember Mr. Bomb Ham. –– Tim and Tricia Cole, Silverton Community Members and friends of Doug’s
3/8/2016 8:08 a.m.
I’m a high school basketball official and my favorite place to officiate was at Bethany School. Doug was such a positive individual who was always smiling, continually encouraging and teaching the kids, and his energy and passion seemed endless.
He was an inspiration even to me! My heart is deeply saddened. Our prayers are lifted up for his wife & children, his extended family & all who were touched by his life. He will be greatly missed! –– Steven Bates
3/9/2016 2:33 p.m.
I am almost certain that this whale painting was one of Mr. Bonham’s favorite “pieces,” as he called my art projects. His students were getting ready for a trip to the coast when we did this project.
I had the privilege of teaching art lessons in Mr. Bonham’s class. I also got to do art with Ayden and McKayla over the years.
We had so much fun together and I’m so thankful that he encouraged me (along with Kori Bolf) to work with the big kids! I am forever grateful that I took on that challenge because I loved the kids and the wonderful atmosphere in his classroom.
Mr. Bonham had such a beautiful relationship with every single child, and all his students felt safe and loved. I felt so comfortable in his room and with his fun and respectful students that I did art for him even when I didn’t have a grandchild in his class.
I am so thankful I had a chance to be around such a vibrant, cheerful, confident, dedicated and loving man. I’m so very sad he had to leave us so soon. –– Christy Allara
3/28/16 1:59 p.m.
When I first met Bonham I was a new fifth-grade student. I had bad grades and a bad attitude about school, but he pressed me to get everything done. And you know what? I did!
He was the only teacher who made science fun and school enjoyable. He was a great coach, a good teacher, and a second father to me. –– Orion White, Doug’s student
*Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Travis Loose