Celia J. Bonville, 99, a resident of The Elms in Westerly, RI, died May 10, 2022 from complications of old age and a recent fall.
Celia was born to the late Edward F Johnston, Sr and Olive (Stevens) Johnston on March 22, 1923 in Fort Fairfield, Aroostook County, Maine, just a few short miles from the border to the Canadian Province of New Brunswick. She was taken home to the town of Easton to join her older brothers Tim (Henry S) and Bob (Robert E) and await the eventual arrival of her younger brother Ed (Edward F, Jr) to complete her birth family. Raised in Easton during the Great Depression years, she graduated from Easton HS in 1940 in a class of 20 and entered the Eastern Maine General School of Nursing in Bangor (now part of Husson University) to train and obtain her Registered Nursing (RN) certification. After numerous hospital nursing assignments, she would subsequently go on to become a school nurse and earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Rhode Island College in 1978 at the age of 55.
While a young teenager, Celia met a young baseball player from the nearby “city” of Presque Isle by the name of Bill Bonville, which would lead to a WW II correspondence courtship between the nurse and her sailor, culminating in their marriage in November of 1944. Their early years were spent in the GI trailer park at the University of Maine in Orono, complements of the GI Bill, and the beginning of their family with the arrival of their oldest son Steven. Sons Ted and Curt would subsequently arrive to complete Celia’s marriage family which, being a coach’s family in the ‘50’s, lived in a number of communities in New England, most notably the Cape Elizabeth, ME and Stonington, CT / Westerly, RI areas.
In 1978, Celia was invited to become a member of the Christ Church (Episcopal/Westerly) Altar Guild which began a decade’s long and very meaningful personal ministry. She also greatly enjoyed gathering with the Westerly Retired Nurses group for many years.
After serving as a school nurse in the Westerly School System (stationed at Babcock Jr High), she and Bill retired to their summer lake cottage in Fryeburg, ME and wintered in Melbourne, FL for many years. A few years after Bill’s passing in 1994, she returned to Pawcatuck, before eventually making The Elms in Westerly her home at the age of 95. Her lake cottage, known by the family as Maine Camp, remains the summer gathering place for four generations of her family.
Celia has frequently been described as a spunky and, at the same time, very caring individual of quiet strength and having that glimmer in the warm eyes of a gentle soul. As might be imagined she was adored by her far flung family of many generations, and known as “Grammie B” to a multitude of friends of her adult grandchildren.
Celia was also predeceased by her three brothers and, most sadly, by her dear son Ted. She is survived by sons Steven (Jane) of Cumberland Foreside, ME & North Port, FL and Curt (Mary) of North Stonington, CT; daughter-in-law Nancy Noyes of West Bath, ME; grandchildren Erin Elizabeth of So Portland, ME; Michael (Alisun) of Bozeman, MT; Jenn Gulan (Patrick) of Mason’s Island, CT; Dan (Sarah) of Groton, CT; step granddaughter Sara Cunningham (Chris) of West Bath, ME; eleven great grandchildren; sisters in law Inez Johnston and JeanMarie Body-Johnston; special Johnston nieces and nephews, and a precious few younger cousins.
A Eucharistic service will be held in the Tobin Side Chapel at Christ Church, 7 Elm St, Westerly, RI on Saturday May 21st at 1pm, with reception to follow in the Parish House. The service will also be streamed on the church’s website (www.christchurchwesterly.org).
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Celia may directed to:
7 Elm St
Westerly, RI 02891
The family would like to thank those who most recently rendered such respectful care for our loved one: the staffs at The Elms, Fox Rehab, Beacon Hospice, and the platoon of nurses and aides at Westerly Hospital.
For online condolences, please visit www.buckler-johnston.com