Van Rolfe Bonnewitz

Van Bonnewitz of Orlando, Florida, died peacefully at home surrounded by his family on June 4, 2024, at the age of 92.

He is survived by his seven children: Paul and Mariann (Engelkes) Bonnewitz of Hampton, New Hampshire, Maureen and Allen Sowers, Sheila Bonnewitz, Peggy Bonnewitz, Frank and Linda (Huelsman) Bonnewitz, Kevin and Elisha (Gonzalez) Bonnewitz and John Bonnewitz-Coffey all of Orlando; eight beautiful grandchildren: Tyler Stokes, Julia Bonnewitz, Mary Sowers, David Sowers, Kate Bonnewitz, Paul Bonnewitz, Paloma Bonnewitz and Levi Bonnewitz all of Orlando; his cousins Linda Trump and Carol Mobley; his sister-in-law Betty Daly of Newark, Delaware; his sisters-in-law Sheila McCloskey and Rose O’Brien and his brother-in-law Anthony O’Brien of Limerick, Ireland.

He had 41 nieces and nephews in Ireland, Canada and the United States. He was preceded in death by his loving wife Mena of 63 years and his infant daughter Deirdre Marie. Van was born on October 25, 1931, in Van Wert, Ohio to Paul and Jane Bonnewitz.

He graduated from Howe Military School in 1949 and from Purdue University in 1953 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He served in many locations over a distinguished 20 year career to include Fort Carson, Colorado where he met and married the love of his life, Mena; La Rochelle, France; Ft Belvoir, Virginia; Ft Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Totten, New York; the Republic of Panama and Augsburg, Germany.

He is a combat veteran having deployed twice to Viet Nam, once as a Green Beret, and also to Guam, Mali, and Colombia. He retired from the US Army in 1973 and after having spent a year in Limerick, Ireland with his family, they settled in Orlando in 1974. He worked for many years as the Shipping Manager at Vanda Beauty Counselor in Kissimmee and was a longtime volunteer at Saint James Cathedral.

He loved technology and had more laptops, iPads, Kindles and cell phones than the rest of his family combined. There was nothing he could not fix or repair. “If you can read the directions you can do it.” He taught himself to paint, do leather work, repair cars, and build anything. And he watched every John Wayne movie numerous times.

There will be a viewing at DeGusipe Funeral Home and Crematory at 9001 N. Orlando Ave, Maitland, FL on Thursday evening, Jun 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A memorial mass will be celebrated on Friday, June 14 at 10 AM at Saint James Cathedral. There will be an internment with full military honors at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery at 1:30 p.m.

As everyone who knew him said, “Van was a true Gentleman.” He never met a stranger. Rest in peace beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, father-in-law and friend. Van was a supporter of many charities to include Bishop Grady Villas, an organization which supports persons with disabilities to use their God-given gifts to achieve greater independence, physical and emotional well-being, and spiritual growth and the Native American Veterans

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