April 15, 1952 – January 19, 2018
Bonnie Jane Polhamus, 65, of Yuma, Arizona died Friday, Jan. 19 at Yuma Regional Medical Center. She was born April 15, 1952 to Raymond and Hilda Ruff in Moses Lake, Wash. She was married for 35 years to Gene Polhamus.
After graduating from Moses Lake High School, Bonnie attended Washington State University, majoring in music. She went on to become a talented pianist, singer, and both vocal and piano teacher. She played piano for many churches and events in the Grant and Lincoln county areas.
Before moving to Yuma full time in 2016, Bonnie worked for Eastern Washington Bank and North Cascades National Bank, and was promoted to Regional Manager over five branches of Columbia Federal Savings. She left banking to become the Human Resource Director at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake, then became Human Resource and Foundation Director for Columbia Basin Hospital in Ephrata.
She and Gene owned and operated Babe’s Coffee and Gift Shop in Wilbur, named after Gene’s nickname for Bonnie. She also worked at the Creston Post Office. They subsequently purchased the historic VFW Hall in Wilbur and remodeled it into a restaurant with a patriotic, military appreciation theme and named it Boyd’s Place after the former VFW director.
Bonnie was passionate about civic involvement and was appointed by the governor to the Big Bend Community College Board of Trustees, and served as president of the local Soroptimists, Lions and Red Hats, to name a few. She also served as the coach for the Miss Moses Lake pageant, was involved in Relay for Life and received many awards including Persons of the Year and Business of the Year in Wilbur, Wash.
Her family and friends said she was a “great organizer and entertainer and always had to be in the thick of things.” She loved dogs and kept a huge scrapbook of her myriad pets over the years which encompassed many rescues including her current basset hound Hank, who was seen regularly driving around Desert Lakes with Bonnie on her butterfly golf cart.
Her home and yard were filled with thousands of butterfly creations and decor and were significant to her for their symbolism of new life beginnings. She was a card and scrapbook artist and loved cooking. Her favorite listening music was anything performed by Neil Diamond and she had “Diamond Girl” tattooed across her shoulder.
Bonnie was an active member of Zion Lutheran Church in Davenport, Wash. Pastor Jim Stern shared how full of joy Bonnie always was and how that was evidenced in her music. “She made the organ sing. She always brought life with her when she sat down at the keyboard. Bonnie lived out her faith through music, service and fellowship,” Stern said. She played for weekly services and events and countless funerals at her church and others nearby. Her favorite hymn was “Old Rugged Cross” according to her pastor.
Bonnie’s longtime Washington friend, Ruth Oehlwein, said she was loved by all, had no enemies and was always kind. She recalls many events that Bonnie organized including a style show and a community Valentine dinner.
Since moving to Yuma, Bonnie was known for her kindness to her neighbors. She performed on the piano at a Veterans Tribute, an Old Fashioned Christmas gathering and the Sanguinetti House Museum events.
Bonnie was predeceased by her parents and is survived by husband Gene at their home in Yuma; brother Harvey (Sue) Ruff of Warden, Wash.; stepchildren Eric (Vicki) and Timothy Polhamus of Moses Lake, Gene Jr (Tara) Polhamus of Hollywood, Calif. and Jennifer (Mike) Smith of Riverside, Calif.; nieces Lori and Lisa Ruff; nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
There will be a memorial celebration of life in Moses Lake, Washington at the Elks Lodge on Friday, February 9, 1 PM. Casual attire appreciated.
A memorial celebration of life and potluck was also held in Yuma at Desert Lakes Community Clubhouse on Sunday, Jan. 28 at 4 p.m.