“There’s one more angel in heaven; one more star in the sky.” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lyrics from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat couldn’t be truer when I think of Bonnie Skinner.
Bonnie was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, friend, mentor and most importantly follower of Jesus Christ.
She loved to regale her audiences with her colorful sanguine stories of growing up on Sand Mountain, AL. One of the all-time favorites was about how she would rearrange the flowers on the headstones at the cemetery across the road. Bonnie was determined that everyone would have flowers. But Bonnie never failed to remind us all that “Jesus was our best friend,” a lesson she learned at a very young age.
As a military officer’s wife she could easily identify with the struggles of other women in that same situation. Thus began her ministry, Happiness on a Shoestring. Over the years Bonnie encouraged and mentored hundreds, if not thousands, of women around the country helping them to understand that life was not always about what you had but about what you made of it.
In 1992 Bonnie attended the Christian Leaders Authors and Speakers Seminar (CLASS.) Quickly she became a valued member of the CLASS staff. Most often Bonnie would be the first person to greet you at the front door. She had a gift of hospitality and used it to share God’s love and grace with everyone she came in contact with. As a Certified Personality Trainer, Bonnie gave numerous seminars and workshops helping people to understand their personalities and those of their family and friends.
With an enthusiasm for life that was contagious, Bonnie not only was the life of the party she usually organized the party. One of my favorite memories came during Bonnie and Jack’s 50th wedding anniversary. CLASS Alum, Elise Schneider and I arrived at Bonnie’s home to “help” with the festivities only to discover a chart on the refrigerator. The chart told us when we ate, what we ate and what our assignments were for the reception. That was our Bonnie.
Like many of us, Southern Gospel recording artist Ann Downing first met Bonnie at CLASS. “We became instant friends, having a lot in common from growing up in the cotton fields of the Deep South. Bonnie was such an encourager from the moment I met her. I invited her to speak at my Middle Tennessee Women's Retreat. Bonnie won a special place in my heart...as well as thousands of others all over the country. I'm so thankful I knew her; I miss her!”
Bonnie had many accomplishments to be proud of. In 2009, her memoir, Happiness on a Shoestring, was published. But she would tell you herself that she was most proud of her 60 plus year marriage to Jack, her three children, David, Susan, and Becky, eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Bonnie’s love of life was evident in all she said and did. Even in the tough times she always found the silver lining in every cloud. She was full of witty sayings that could always put a smile on your face. I leave you with one of her favorites, “If life gives you lemons, make the best lemonade you can.”
Yes, Andrew Lloyd Webber was right when he wrote, “There’ one more angel in heaven; one more star in the sky.” Her name is Bonnie Skinner.