Bonita Marion  “Bonnie” Ladd

Bonnie Ladd

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience and just plain love for one another.” — Erma Bombeck

Some people seem to be born to give of themselves to others. Bonita Marion “Bonnie” Ladd was that kind of person. For her, life was about her family and giving to her coastal community.

Originally from Plentywood, Mont., she moved to Westby, Mont., after she married Dave A. Ladd in October 1961. Two years later, the couple moved to Oregon, finally settling in Hammond in 1967, where Bonnie very soon thereafter got a job as a postal clerk in the Hammond Post Office. They raised three sons, Corey and his wife Roberta Ladd (still residing in Hammond), Steve and Laura Ladd of Battle Ground, Wash., and Kevin and Bernadeth Ladd of Warrenton.

By 1977, Bonnie was postmaster and soon became a fixture in Hammond, as husband Dave recalled: “She was at the post office for about 30 years. Now Hammond is a small town, so being the postmaster with a lot of people coming in all the time, she got to know about everyone in town. She was a friendly person and was always doing public relations. It wasn’t a requirement of the post office of course, but it was a requirement of a small town to be friendly with everyone, and to know what was going on.” Close friend Beverly Hoofnagle agreed. “I think she knew what was going on all over Hammond and a little bit of Warrenton too!”

Son Kevin Ladd understands why his mother was so successful at the post office. “She enjoyed dealing with the public, helping out wherever she could. She liked being with people; she was definitely a people person. She loved the area and it was where she wanted to be.”

Bonnie came to love her new adopted community and spent her life making it and the surrounding area a richer place in many ways.

One of her fondest endeavors was teaching the Viking, Nordic and Scandia troupes of dancers. Husband Dave remembered how she got herself and the entire family involved. “There was an ad in the local paper that a dance troupe was starting up, so she went and signed up our two oldest boys – the youngest was still too young. She ended up filling in all the time and after a couple of years took over with a couple of others. When they quit, she just kept doing it. She taught for about 30 years.”

Janet Bowler, who worked alongside Bonnie in the dance troupe, remembered the good times they had. “Bonnie was involved with the dance troupe long before I was. She was always a very capable teacher, a warm person, and kind and open to everyone who came to dance. We had many good memories. I especially remember dancing with the troupe at Disneyland. We had a special bond because Bonnie and I both originally came from northeast Montana, so we liked talking about our experiences there.”

As time went on, Bonnie’s husband Dave got involved doing music and sound and her youngest son Kevin started dancing as well. Today, Kevin has taken over the troupe, and while her sons Corey and Steve no longer dance, Dave continues to do the sound and music. Bowler remembered when Kevin was first dancing. “Bonnie trained her son Kevin. He was a very good student and a capable and lovely dancer and it’s great he’s continuing the tradition of Scandinavian dance here.”

Bonnie’s impact on the troupe did not go unnoticed, as her son Kevin recalled: “Many years back at one of the Scandinavian festivals, they declared one of the days in June as Bonnie Ladd Day in honor of her dedication to the dance group. To have a day named after you, that’s a statement about your commitment to the community.”

Music, too, was a passion of Bonnie’s, as son Kevin related. “My mother was very musical. She sang in the church choir, played guitar, learned a little piano and even took violin lessons later on in life. She tried a little bit of everything.”

In addition to music and Scandinavian dance, Bonnie enjoyed oil and watercolor painting, arts and crafts and traveling.

Church was also an important aspect of Bonnie’s life, and she was a member of the First Lutheran Church of Astoria. Being the giving person she was, she naturally started teaching Sunday School and Bible School as well as singing in the choir. Her love of children was equally strong, and in time, she and a crew of volunteers started teaching an after-school singing group called the Children’s Ministerial Team. Hoofnagle remembered Bonnie’s affinity for children. “She was a very sweet person and cared about the children. She loved the kids and loved teaching them and being around them. If you didn’t have a tape to play, Bonnie could sing a tune and the kids could dance to it. She had a very good voice.”

But perhaps son Kevin summed up her life best: “She was my mother, my doctor, my preacher, my role model and my hero ... She treated everybody fairly. I think basically everyone will remember her as family, part of their family. She was a mom to a lot of different people around here.”

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