Obituary of William Bonini
William E. “Bill” Bonini, 90, of Princeton, NJ passed away Tuesday, December 13. Students, colleagues and friends lost a teacher, mentor and loved one; he died peacefully with family at his side.
A devoted husband and loving father of four, the core of his adult life was spent in Princeton, N.J. where he served as a Princeton University Professor for 43 years, as the George J. Magee Professor of Geophysics and Geological Engineering. He was on the faculty of both the Departments of Geology and Geophysics as well as Civil Engineering and Operations Research. He is recognized as an inspiring educator who worked with generations of undergraduates and alumni. He served as Chairman, Director and Undergraduate Advisor of the Geological Engineering Program, and Undergraduate Representative for the Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences, from 1973 to 1996. He was honored with the Princeton President’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992 and the Princeton Award for Excellence in Alumni Education in 2010. He proudly served as Director of the Princeton Summer Field Course program at the Y.B.R.A. Camp in Red Lodge, MT for over 30 years. His primary research interests were in the geological and geophysical study of regional geology, including mountain ranges and regional tectonic patterns; shallow-zone geophysical methodology in groundwater and engineering geology. He completed foundational work in the fields of magnetic and gravitational geophysics, in studies that took him around the globe multiple times. He had a deep passion for undergraduate education and mentoring, in which he engaged in considerable service at the University and beyond, including publishing geology laboratory manuals with colleagues.
Bill was born in Washington, D.C. on August 23, 1926 to Thelma Louis (Scrivener) and John Emory Bonini Jr. A fourth generation Washingtonian and middle child of three, he grew up surrounded by family and was raised by his parents with an active helping hand from his grandmothers Mary Elizabeth Allen Scrivener and Carolina Louisa Weigel Bonini. As a boy his family spent the hot Washington summers camped along the Potomac River and he was an avid member of the Boy Scouts, eventually earning the distinction of Eagle Scout. His family were active members of the Georgetown Lutheran Church where he sang in the choir, and his time in the Scouts began his lifelong interest in teaching and the outdoors.
Bill was the first person in his family to earn a college degree, graduating from Princeton University with a B.S.E. in Geological Engineering in 1948 and his M.S.E. in 1949. His college years were interrupted by service in the Navy during World War II. Bill was drafted into the US Navy as a Seaman 1st Class in 1945, and after his active service was completed he returned to Princeton as a member of the Reserves. He later earned a Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics at the University of Wisconsin under the direction of George P. Woollard. It was in Madison where he met the love of his life, Rose Rozich, whom he married in 1954. Over the course of their 62-year marriage they raised four children.
He leaves his wife, Rose; his son, John A. Bonini and wife Loretta Estabrooks; daughter Nancy M. Bonini and husband Anthony Cashmore; son James P. Bonini and wife Patricia; daughter Jennifer A. Bonini and husband Scott Miller; seven grandchildren Christine, Megan, Caroline, Jay, Sam, Keegan, and Maggie; and many colleagues and friends. He was preceded in death by his two sisters June and Doris.
A memorial will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers Bill requested that any memorial donations be sent to help support the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association (YBRA) Field Camp in Red Lodge, Montana. Donations can be made online at www.ybra.org or by mail to: Denny McGinnis, YBRA Bonini Memorial Contribution, P.O. Box 20598 Billings, MT 59104-0598.
Arrangements are under the direction of The Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton, NJ.
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