Bonnie Jean Smith

August 15, 1944January 14, 2018
Obituary of {subject.fullNameWithPrefixAndSuffix}


Nelsen Williamsburg

Bonnie Jean Smith, 73, passed away at Consulate Health Care of Williamsburg in James City County, Virginia, on January 14, 2018. She was born August 15, 1944 at Monmouth Memorial Hospital in Long Branch, New Jersey to the late Bonnie Jean Jones and Lloyd B. Howland. After a separation, Bonnie's mother struggled alone to raise Bonnie Jean in Asbury Park, NJ until she met Louis W. Letsche, a World War II combat infantryman (U.S. Army 66th Division Black Panthers). They were married in 1958. Bonnie grew up in Avon, N.J., enjoying her days at the beach and the Methodist summer camp sessions. She attended Neptune High School, working summers as a telephone operator for New Jersey Bell. Her parents were career New Jersey Bell employees. Bonnie graduated from Neptune High in 1962. She attended Seton Hill College in Greensburg, PA, and West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. On June 10, 1965, she married Kingsley R. Smith II in Atlantic City, NJ, followed by a honeymoon in the Poconos. They moved to Highland Park, Los Angeles, CA to start a new life together. This was cut short by the Vietnam war draft, so Kingsley joined the U.S Army. After Basic and AIT, they travelled to Stockton, CA for 6 months of Logistics Headquarters Company formation. During this time Bonnie gave birth to Christine Anne. In January 1967, Bonnie and Christine went home to her family, and Kingsley flew to Vietnam for a year's tour in Qui Nhon. Following his return to the USA, she and her daughter enjoyed the quarters at Fort Eustis as he served out his last year in the Army. The family then returned to West Virginia University where they completed their degrees, with Bonnie earning a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and graduating with honors in 1970. The next two years were spent in Cross Lanes, WV outside of Charleston, WV, and Bonnie had her second child Kingsley R. Smith III. This was followed by another move to the Denbigh section of Newport News, where a home was bought so the children would have a stable environment in which to grow. Both children graduated from Menchville High School. Christine graduated from William & Mary, and currently teaches mathematics at Council Rock High School South in Holland, PA. Kingsley III attended Thomas Nelson, then got a job with Verizon which he still holds, becoming a career employee just like his grandfather Louis, whom he idolized. Bonnie was an active member of the Junior Women's Club of Newport News for many years. She was also President of the Sanford Elementary School PTA for a year. In 1981 Bonnie accepted a scholarship to Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), and proceeded to earn her Master of Arts in Education over the next two years, graduating in May, 1983. She began teaching special education at the Hampton School for Deaf and Blind, and went on to work at James City County Schools Clara Byrd Baker Elementary, Norge Elementary, and finished up at Toano Middle School after she and her husband moved to James City County in 1997. She spent 32 years teaching special education, and retired from the Williamsburg-James City County School system in 2014. She was highly regarded in the W-JCC School system community. She was a member of the Virginia Education Association. Bonnie enjoyed knitting, cross-stitching, reading, cross-word puzzles, meeting her friends for lunch, watching television, her dog Sophie, and all things Elvis. After bravely fighting two consecutive major illnesses from January 30, 2017 to January 14, 2018, Bonnie Jean passed away peacefully with her children by her side. We are grateful to the fine staff at Consulate Health Care and their partner At Home Care Hospice. She is survived by her husband, daughter, and son; son-in-law Sam P. Caruso; daughter-in-law Jennifer Sassin Smith; grandchildren Lauren Michelle Pettine and her husband Christopher, Madelene Anne Caruso, Anthony Salvatore Caruso, and Kailee Jean Smith; great-granddaughter Kaelyn Olivia Pettine. Bonnie and Kingsley were married for 52 and 1/2 years. She will be greatly missed by all.

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