Ruth Louise Bonner, 87, a lifelong resident of Tucker County, passed away peacefully in her sleep during the early morning hours of June 8, 2023, on the farm where she had lived for over 58 years. She had been in declining health since suffering a stroke in early December.
Ruth was born on Thursday, June 13, 1935, on the U.G. Lanham farm that is now part of the Canaan Valley State Park. She was the oldest of two daughters born to the late Hancel and Erma (Lanham) Mallow. She was raised on the old John Raese farm on Cortland Road that later became known as Mallow's Canaan Valley Dairy. Her formative years were spent working on the farm, milking cows, and delivering milk door-to-door to customers in the Town of Davis. After her parents built Mallow's Maple Grove Lake and Restaurant, she managed the horseback riding there until it was sold in 1961. She and her father also operated the first horseback riding concession at the Blackwater Falls State Park.
Ruth attended the Cosner School in Canaan Valley and graduated from Davis High School in 1952 as the salutatorian. She also attended West Virginia University.
On February 4, 1955, she was married to Kermit Lloyd Bonner. They remained married for 65 years until his death on December 31, 2020. Ruth and Kermit shared common bonds based on a love of farming, the land, and each other. She was a quintessential farm wife in all respects. Ruth fed livestock and delivered calves in the winter, tended garden in the summer, raised children and cared for grandchildren all while putting three full meals on the table seven days a week and managing a household with little complaint. A private person, the hallmark of her life was reserved grace. The phrase "They don't make 'em like they used to" was written with her in mind. Truly she was one of the last of a dying breed in the Dry Fork community. Her death is the end of an era and the turning of a page. Not many in the area did not sit at her table or enjoy a covered dish she prepared for a reunion or community function. She was a legend in her own time.
Ruth is survived by her sister, Betty Smigal of Davis, and by three daughters, Laura Kaye Mallow of Powhatan, Virginia, Linda Ann Adams and husband Jeff of Fort Ashby, and Kimberly Sue Bennett and companion Milton Waybright of Red Creek. There are five grandchildren, Margie Mallow Jurkuta, Warren Mallow, Alicia Taylor Kirby, Kermit Bennett and Lindsay Bennett Clark. There are also ten great grandchildren, Erica and Carter Epperly, Jaicob and Kylie Mallow, Deacon and Madeline Kirby, Elijah Bennett, Kaden Brown, and Audrey and Allison Clark. Several nieces and nephews also survive, as well as a multitude of cousins. Ruth was predeceased by a son-in-law, Patrick Taylor, and a brother-in-law, Alex Smigal, Jr.
As owners and operators of Stoneridge Farms in Red Creek since 1967, Ruth and Kermit received many honors for their work on the farm. She served on many committees and was a member of several organizations. She was once named West Virginia State Grange Association Secretary of the Year. Ruth was a long-time trustee and treasurer of the Buena Cemetery in Canaan Valley, and she attended the Flanagan Hill United Methodist Church.
The family will receive visitors on Sunday, June 11, from 4 to 7 PM at the Hinkle-Fenner Funeral Home in Davis, where the funeral service will also be conducted on Monday, June 12, at 11 AM. Ruth will then be laid to rest beside her husband and her parents at the Buena Cemetery, within sight of her birthplace. She will never be forgotten.
A reception will be held after the service at the Flanagan Hill Community Center.
The Hinkle-Fenner Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Bonner family at this time.