My mom Karen Bondaruk passed away on Friday September 4th about 9am. In lieu of a memorial service and flowers I'm collecting donations for her to get a gravesite marker at her mother, Irene's, gravesite. My grandmother and my aunt are buried next to each other at the Multnomah Park Cemetery on the corner of 82nd and Holgate in SE Portland. This is the neighborhood the family grew up in and lived in or close by for most of the my mothers life. My mother died in her sleep of natural causes. She was 74 years old. She looked peaceful, like she just dozed off while watching one of her favorite TV shows. She liked Home Improvement shows; shows like America's Got Talent, Law and Order, and of course movies.
My mom was valedictorian of Villa St Rose High School in 1964. She graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with High Honors in 1991. She worked most of her adult life at Reed College as the Faculty Secretary for the Humanities and many other departments. She loved to work at Reed and had planned to work there into her 70s. She retired due to health reasons in 2014. If you met her at Reed you may remember her for the small pepper dog she brought to work everyday named Shem Nettle. Or possibly you met my mom when you came to get the Humanities 110 syllabus as a freshman or when you submitted your Qual as a junior or your Senior Thesis.
Shem Nettle was a Dandie Dinmont terrier, which is a very rare breed of dog, and was my mom's daily companion for 15 years or so. My mom raised dogs and ran a kennel with my father in her 20s. Shem Nettle was a puppy born to Piper and Archie who were the breeding pair my parents choose to work with. Shem Nettle was with my mom everyday from birth to death. My mom loved to see a Dandie Dinmont Terrier and would shout with glee whenever we saw one. My mom also raised Basset Hounds which my parents brought to the US from Yugoslavia. As a child I remember having anywhere from 10 to 15 Basset Hounds to be my friends.
My mom married in 1965 to Robert Edward Bondaruk Sr. I'm Robert Jr. My dad was in the Air Force and gave my mom the opportunity to travel the world. My mom loved to travel. My mom and dad lived in England, Italy, Annapolis Maryland, Tampa Florida, Warrensburg Missouri, and Tacoma Washington. My mom also traversed the United States several times by car. Some of my earliest memories are of traveling with my mom from Florida to a Bauman Family Reunion in Portland, OR. She took me to some western ghost towns and I thought she was the coolest mom ever.
My son, JT, was born in 2002. My mom loved being a grandma. She was invaluable to me; picking my son up after school, taking him on vacation with her, babysitting whenever I needed it, and joining us in many family activities like camping, vacations to Disneyland and Paris, which she paid for, and family dinners. My mom loved to host holiday dinners especially Thanksgiving and Christmas where we would celebrate with her four brothers and sisters and their children.
I saw my mom the day before she died. We chatted for a couple hours. I went over to help her with getting some things from the fridge. She wasn't very mobile the last year or so. She could manage just a few blocks walking. I did get to take her out for milkshakes at Mike's Drive In the previous day. She loved milkshakes and Mike's is a great place to get one. Mike's was a regular hangout of ours and we frequently ate dinner there together on Friday nights for most of my life. I took her to Mike's so I could spend a little more time with her doing something she loved. We had a lovely afternoon meal together chatting about nothing.
My mom is survived by me and my son JT, her brothers Dick and Trey, as well as her sister Sue. She is also survived by two daughters, Sara Dawn and Debbie, and a son, Joey, from a second marriage and their children. She was very close with Sara Dawn, the youngest daughter, who became to my mom her own daughter with whom she shared a lifetime relationship.
Thanks for thinking good thoughts for my mom.
P.S. My mom loved Christmas and Santa.