Thomas J. Bonte
October 28, 1933 – March 13, 2020
Thomas John Bonte Sr.
Thomas J. Bonte, 86, passed away on Friday 13 March 2020 at his home in Pensacola, Florida. Born in Bloomington, Illinois, he was raised by Grace Devine Bonte and Fred Bonte in Geneseo, Illinois. Thomas was a skilled farmer and tended to the family farm. Also, he enjoyed carpentry and maintaining his automobile. He excelled in academia while participating in Geneseo High School’s track & field and baseball teams. After graduating Geneseo High school in 1951, Mr. Bonte enlisted in the United States Navy as a Photographer’s Mate. His tours include: U.S. Naval Photographic Center, NAS Anacostia, D.C.; U.S. Naval Photographic Interpretation Center, Washington D.C.; Utility Squadron ONE (VU-1); USS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (CVA-42); Pacific Fleet Combat Camera Group NAS San Diego, CA; Navy Photo Interpretation Center Washington D.C.; Naval Missile Center Point Mugu, CA; Pacific Fleet Combat Camera Group Fleet Air Photo Lab Cubi Point, Philippines. After 30 years of active duty service, he retired and worked as an evidence custodian for the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, South East Asia Region. He met his beautiful bride while stationed overseas, Teresita Ednacot Tiangco, and married in January 20, 1979. He is survived by his wife Teresita; his sisters, Barbara and Sharon; his sons, Robert and Thomas Jr.; his daughters Michelle, Cheryl, Linda, Mary, and Beth; his grandchildren Amanda, Sean, Brayden, Justin, Melissa, Matthew, Anthony, Thalia, Genevieve, Logan, Lily, Jessie, Ellie and Emma; his great-grandchildren, Milo and Dean; and many close friends and relatives. Visitation and Viewing will be held on Monday, 23 March 2020 at Oak Lawn Funeral Home from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with family arriving at 5:00 p.m. A small family Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, 24 March 2020 at Little Flower Catholic Church at 11:30 a.m. Funeral procession will leave from Little Flower Catholic Church at 12:30 p.m. and Burial will be held after at Barrancas National Cemetery at 1:00 p.m. Base access is strictly monitored and requires screening, if you choose to attend outside the funeral procession.
- Teresita, Wife
- Barbara and Sharon, Sisters
- Robert and Thomas Jr, Sons
- Michelle, Cheryl, Linda, Mary, and Beth, Daughters
- Amanda, Sean, Brayden, Justin, Melissa, Matthew, Anthony, Thalia, Genevieve, Logan, Lily, Jessie, Ellie and Emma, Grandchildren
- Milo and Dean, Great Grandchildren
- Many close friends and relatives
- Rosary Service Monday, March 23, 2020
- Visitation Monday, March 23, 2020
Thomas J. Bonte
March 23, 2020
I grew up with Tom back in Illinois. I used to spend my summers on the Bonte farm where Tom and I would play together even though he was 4-5 years my senior. I remember he was always fantasizing about being on a submarine and we would shoot make-believe guns while hovering in the roadside ditches. Later as a teen I remember him going out with a shotgun on the farm and bringing back a rabbit! I was in awe of him. My Aunt Grace said he could draw all A's in school without cracking a book! She was in awe of him as well. His dream of being in the Navy materialized and he was so handsome in his Navy Blues. One year I met Tom in the south of France and he gave me a tour of the Coral Sea. It was a world I knew nothing about and he showed me around with great pride. He loved the Navy and he loved photography! I could see that he was a very gifted Naval photographer. I am very glad for him that he found a life's work that he loved. Tom and I kept in touch yearly. He in Florida and I in California. I always enjoyed hearing from him and learning about his life in Florida with his family. I remember his girls as well. I know that he was very proud of all of his children. My deepest sympathy to all of the Tom Bonte family. Our lives were so entertwined when we were young that he will always be a wonderful part of my memories. P.S. I did not realize that Tom's middle name was John. I suspect he was named after my dad who had the name of John and who would have been his uncle.
March 23, 2020
My memories of my father are many, so it's hard to start. I remember my sisters and I being dressed up when we were little so Dad could take photos with our Mom. Moving from Virginia to California and Dad not wanting to stop anywhere! Our first earthquake; us girls were freaking out but Dad is walking through the house saying "It's only a little shaking!" Trying to enjoy green onion and butter sandwiches was a bust for me, Sorry Dad.
After Dad moved to the Philippines and we lost touch, I didn't know if I'd ever get the chance to reconnect. But thanks to Tess, that bridge was rebuilt. I enjoyed getting to know who my father became, and how he had evolved in life. Meeting Mama Tess, Robert, Tom Jr., and Michelle, has only enriched me. Comparing stories about Dad's parenting exploits was also an eye opener. Imagine my surprise when I heard that he'd allowed one of his kids to park a car on his lawn. Growing up in Murphy Canyon, me and my friends were barely allowed to walk on ours!!
Throughout all the years of ups and downs, you have always had a strong influence on me Dad. I love you and I will miss you always, Your Daughter, Linda
Cheryl Bonte Lawlor
March 21, 2020
I remember Dad’s tomatoes. A better one does not exist. Must have been the Virginia dirt...
In Maryland, we had an apple tree in our yard. One afternoon when I was 5, I thought it would be a good idea to take a bite out of all the apples I could reach. Well Dad apparently didn’t think so-I turned around to see him bent in half running through the low branches toward me! I started to run, but another good idea (obviously my first) hit me-I’d better stop or it will be worse. I got a couple of swats and sent to my room...
Another thing I remember is how amazed I was when I saw that Santa’s handwriting looked a lot like Dad’s! Still didn’t put 2 and 2 together, however...
Beth, with regard to the chocolate, I found that stash too! I’m thinking that if he really minded us finding it (on more than one occasion) he would have hidden it better...
As difficult as it was for all of us to reconnect, I’m grateful to have met the man he turned out to be: gracious, grateful and pretty dang funny! We wrote to each other and would enclose interesting articles and funny comics.
It will be strange reading the comics and not be on the lookout for the “Dad worthy” ones to clip out and send to him.
I love you Dad-please say hello to Moz for me.❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
March 19, 2020
Thomas J. Bonte was my father. When I was young, he was away much of the time, due to his military obligations. When I was about 7, I discovered that he had some Hershey Bars in his workbench in the garage, where he built his model planes. It was an incredible find, because we were not allowed candy very often. On this day, I was supposed to be getting the broom for my Dad. I am not sure why I was looking in the drawers, but once I found the candy, I immediately put at least half of one of the bars in my mouth. My Dad then came into the garage asking me why I was taking so long, but I could not talk because my mouth was full of chocolate. I just pointed at the models on the bench as if to suggest I was looking at them, and to my surprise my Dad was "fooled". He just told me to come back in when I was finished. I was shocked and relieved that he did not notice what I was doing. As an adult, I know that I did not get away with anything, that he just chose to ignore what I did, and not embarrass me over sneaking some candy.
My other memories are a swirling mix of Navy picnics at Admiral Baker’s Field; family barbecues; the Blue Angles; Burgie Beer; the Thanksgiving that we all drank a bottle of Coca-Cola at dinner; Fraiser (the only cat we knew our Dad to like and share ice cream with) and field day at North Island. That day at North Island, I remember Dad showing us the "Bonte" candy bars in the vending machine, we were so excited.
I did not get to know him as well as I would have liked, but I know that, among many characteristics, he was a great photographer, hard worker, dedicated Navy man; he was funny and had excellent penmanship. He passed his love for photography, comics and westerns to this daughter, and in the end, I hope he knew how much I loved him.
March 16, 2020
My sincere condolences to the family. Tom was my first Master Chief in 1981 and the standard I held all others to after I worked for him. He was the example I aspired to be over my 28 year Naval career. I too am saddened at his passing.
March 16, 2020
Where to start? Those hours talking to you in the garage while you were building your model airplanes, the joy I felt on the days you came home from deployment, the time you walked home from Jack Murphy Stadium because you didn't want to stand in line to get into the Padres game and so many more. Love and miss you Dad.
March 15, 2020
Probably one the best days of my career or for that matter my life is lwhen at his retirement party he cam to me and thanked me for helping put his party together. He shook my hand looked me in the eye like a Brother. Finest MCPO I ever worked for. He had all our backs. RIP Master Chief.